We take it in turns to rock her like a child, this woman whose name is still missing and whose label in my brain reads Awful Curtains, Seventy-Two. She is heaped on the pavement where it happened, in a daisy-speckled housecoat and a corduroy cap. My winter coat quilts her shoulders and I am parroting It’s okay. The vet – someone called him, before they knew – plans his next move. The woman hasn’t spoken; she is sobbing and shivering like January and I have no idea what happens next. At first I was slow to catch up to the visuals. I might have seen an old rag being flattened. Bag. Thing. Animal. I might have seen three youths running. Away? Piece by lonely piece it came together and I mumbled it to you: That’s her cat, with inflections that I hoped you’d read. We stood like a queue for the deli: you, me and the man from Twelve, none of us wanting to tear off this particular ticket. You moved first, a step off the curb to check for traffic; I thought that was measured, pragmatic. Mentally I backed slowly away, already flicking the kettle on to drown my fear. You went to check it, the cat-rag, and straight off I knew you knew. A lesser human would have swung it round triumphantly: It’s just a toy! It’s fine! but you cradled it, that mangled plush white cat, and I saw (although you would deny it now) how you deftly gave its squashed belly a little plump as you walked it over to the waiting vet.
Marie lives with her husband, three sons and their saggy baggy cat. She walks in the nearby fields and writes in the shed. She has short fiction featured or forthcoming in Sledgehammer, The Birdseed, Re-Side, The Cabinet of Heed, Gastropoda, Moss Puppy and more. She also has poetry in several literary magazines.