Sunday 7 December 2014

Day 7 Cat in the Snow by L F Roth

There was the miscarriage; there was the cat. She connected the two. Who wouldn’t? But very soon doubt entered her mind. Was life ever that simple? If it was, why at this point? Why not the first time around? And why a cat? In some ways she shared Robert’s opinion. “Dogs,” he had said on one occasion, eyeing a Rottweiler that was charging down the street, a broken chain clattering behind it. “Dogs are useful.” A hair’s breadth ahead a cat squeezed under a fence. Phew! Dee shivered at the memory. “They’ll fetch and carry. They’ll protect you. They’ll die for you. A cat will only save its own skin. What good is that?” Now, she wouldn’t stand by to see a cat butchered by a Rottweiler, but other than that she agreed. Cats were no more special than, say, crickets.
So when she first caught sight of it out back, beside the small greenhouse, she noted its presence but that was all. Even that took some doing: she could barely make out the shape in the snow, not primarily because of its spectral whiteness, but because it kept so still. It took an effort to trace the opaque eyes, which neither blinked nor shifted position, and the pale pink nose, held rigidly still. She had no idea what possessed her to crouch down, once she was convinced those were eyes, that was a nose, and call out, but no matter: the cat didn’t respond. To Dee, that was a mark of past abuse, if not from Rottweilers then from some human beast. Perhaps to make up for it she got a small bowl and a couple of tins of cat food from the pet shop the same afternoon. She placed the bowl in the spot where the cat had been and lingered for a while. The cat had left no imprint in the snow.
Inside Robert’s voice greeted her.
“Did you go out at all today?”
“Briefly,” she told him.
“You know what the doctor recommended.”
“I know,” she said. “Well, it was less than that.”
“Why don’t you try swimming?”
But she shook her head. She didn’t feel at home in her body just yet. She wasn’t sure how far she could trust it.
The food was still there in the morning. She picked up the bowl. “Here, cat,” she called, rattling the frozen bits in case the cat was within hearing. A name would simplify things. Kitty? Molly? Snowy? Of course, whatever common name she chose might well be tainted. The gender posed another problem. Should it be male or female or, given the times, both? Female, probably, since the cat appeared to have been abused. Dee played with variations of her own name. Audrey? Deirdre? Delia? She tested them one at a time. Both whispered and spoken aloud she found the sound of Delia the most appealing. The movement of her tongue was pleasingly smooth, as it shifted gently from the ridge behind her upper teeth to the area a little further back before lowering itself to let the final vowel through. De-li-a. Spoken too fast, it became a sloppy De-l-ya. No cat would want that. “De-li-a,” she called. “Here, De-li-a.” No shadow moved across the snow.

About the author:
L. F. Roth: No tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, though a full CV could list a number of other occupations—but then, who cares? What matters is the fiction. A writerly CV would have fewer entries, among them short stories published by Biscuit (2011), Segora (web, 2012) and Earlyworks Press (2012, 2013, 2014).



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