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Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Boy's Cat

It's the insatiable crying that drives me mad.

Every night, she walks from room to room searching and crying. It's like she knows when I am just about to doze off. She sits by the side of my bed. She knows I let one hand hang over the side and she arches her back until my fingers are running through her fur. She turns around and puts her head under my hand forcing me to scratch her behind the ears.

She came to us by accident. My Mother's cat had kittens. My son was almost three at the time. He fell in love with the long-haired ginger curled up in the cardboard box. Nan said he could have her.

She slept on his bed. As he grew, she grew. She followed him around the house and waited for him to come home from school each day. She went to bed when he did. Snuggling into his back or stretched out on top of him. Leaving a trail of fur all over his bedspread.

He played X-box with her sitting in his lap or lounging next to him. He rubbed her fur without knowing it and scratched her head instinctively.

I have never had to do anything for her. She wasn't my cat. I don't know why she seeks me out at midnight every night. She stares directly into my eyes, meowing like she's asking me a question. "What do you want?" I ask her, exasperated by her relentless crying. She asks again but I don't understand. She follows me around the house all day long crying and crying. It never stops. She's not hungry, or sick. I don't know how to pacify her.

I turn the key to the front door. The sun is shining in through the foyer window on the slate floor. I open the door and she is enjoying the sun rays, stretched out like she is laying on a beach. When I come in she jumps up and swirls around my feet. I scratch her head hello and go into the kitchen. I get her food and lay it on the floor but she doesn't go near it.

I can hear the school bus stopping at the top of the street. She scratches franticly at the door to get out and I open it to let her go. I watch her cross the street and run like a cheetah to the corner. She greets the bus. The driver opens the door and the children pile out. She sits, watching each child walk by. Some stop and scratch her head and her tail sways in appreciation. The last of the children get off and the door closes. The bus pulls away. She's still sitting there. Waiting.

The last boy off the bus rubs her head then walks down the street towards his house. She follows him. He turns around and smiles. He waits for her to get near then reaches down and scoops her up in his arms. She nuzzles into his neck. The boy strokes her back and her long tail sways around his waist in glee.
He gently lays her down on the sidewalk as he gets closer to his house. She sits and watches him go inside. She gets up and meanders across the street to our house and paces in front of the door as if to say, "I am home now." I let her in and as I close the door she locks eyes with me meowing and crying all at once. Asking me the same question she asks every night when I am trying to sleep. I don't know how to get it through to her. She never gives up asking. She never stops crying.

Frustrated with my response, she bows her tail and runs to the basement. I follow her down there to see what she's doing. I don't come down here anymore. She leaps up on the couch and curls into the abandoned white hoodie bunched up in the corner. It's covered in fur. She's slept there before. I should throw it out, but I can't. She smells him on it. I sit next to her and scratch her head. She begins to cry again. Asking the same question. I tell her over and over again but she doesn't get it.

He's gone I tell her. She cries again and it sounds like "Why? Why?" She crawls onto my lap. Arching her back like a Halloween cat and then reaching her cold nose up till it touches mine. Her eyes are green and she locks them on mine. "Where is he?" She's asks. I tell her every day, "The boy is gone. You have to learn to let go."
She walks off my lap and back to the hoodie. Laying down with her back towards me. I know she's saying "I don't believe you."

Suddenly she jumps to her feet and runs up the stairs. I can hear her scratching at the front door. I chase after her. I can hear the second school bus at the top of the street. I open the door and she runs up to the bus stop. The doors open and she sits patiently. Watching the kids get off. The doors close and the bus pulls away. She gets up and begins the slow walk back to her house. Her tail is down and I can see her mouth moving. She's crying again.
I let her back in. I hate the sound of the school bus. I miss the boy too. I long to see him jump off the bus with his heavy book bag over his shoulder. Running towards home and her running after him.
She searches the house again. Looking for him. I follow her to the basement. Now an empty, hollow room filled with electronic games, a TV and couch. The walls are a shrine to his accomplishments. Certificates and trophies are everywhere.

She's crying. "Where is he?" She leaps back to the couch and curls up in the boy's hoodie. I lay on the couch and she climbs on top of me. I cry with her.

"Where is he? Where is my baby boy?" The tears sting my eyes and roll down my cheeks. She lifts her head and meows back to me "Why? Why?"

She jumps off and runs up stairs again. I go behind her. She's scratching at the door again. She wants to go out. I open the door. There's a group of boys heading to the park. She chases after them. They don't notice her trailing behind. I can hear her cry. I know what she's saying. "Do you know where my boy is?" They don't pay any attention to her.

She'll keep me up again tonight. Continuously crying. Like me. Asking "Where is my boy?"