This can’t be healthy for either of us, Sedge. Folded curtains encase us, the eerie glow of the box on your lap is our only light. Rings of dust spilled around beer stains on the surface of the coffee table are our mementos of passing time. You haven’t moved in three days.
You release a sigh followed by muddled words.
I search the adjacent rooms expecting to find her, but they are vacant. We are alone in this house save for the last cracks of the drowning sun cutting through your bedroom blinds. The children play on the corner until the streetlights manifest themselves.
I return to you.
Your leg kicks apprehensively over the arm of your chair as you doze. You sleep more than I do now and I don’t remember the last time you ate. My dishes have been barren, my tongue dryer than it should. I’ve been living off droplets of tap water, while you live off liquid lunch. The last mouse I caught I brought to you. I thought you could use the nourishment. We need to help each other through this, I said. Mew. Instead of listening to me you reached for the spray bottle, squeezed it until I ran away. I licked its contents off my fur, for what little hydration it offered.
The mouse hasn’t moved from your feet since. What a waste.
The problem is lack of communication. Everything we say to each other becomes lost. If only there was a way for you to have heard all the poems I used to write for you while I kneaded your chest. Maybe things would be different. Maybe she would have stayed. But everything I say to you is redundant, disjointed.
I rub my neck against your foot. Mew.
Your eyes become alert, scornful through the scars left by crow’s feet. You land a kick against my side. You overcompensate and the rapid movement startles me. My shoulder meets the table leg, your beer crashes to the floor. The potent stench of stale bread fills the room. You rise for the first time since she left, grab me the skin of my back, pull me to your eye height. My voice is weak. I try to say I’m sorry, that I miss her too. Mew.
Your glare digs through my matted fur. Then, with a voice of grinding steel you tell me: No. You raise your open hand to strike me.
The sound of a bell stops you.
I’m dropped to floor and you kneel to the glowing box flipped sideways on the couch. You hold it in your hands, speak to it. The house is empty, yet a voice responds from inside the glowing box. In between your protests, I learn it’s hers. Her voice soothes me, yet angers you.
What started as a plea, rapidly contorts into salvoes. Both of you try to bombard the other into submission. It’s not enough to just simply burn the bridge, you must obliterate it.
Wind chimes from the glowing box. Her voice is gone. Silently, you smash the box against the wall until its inorganic organs lay amongst shattered glass.
I am scared. Mew.
I nuzzle against your outer thigh. You reach to pet me, but your hand misses. The broken glass slices your thumb. Red spills onto the floor.
I am blamed, for the cut, for the three days, for her. I become your outlet now that she is gone. You charge towards me, I try to run, but you grab my tail. It hurts so I slap at your hand trying to break the grip, but wish as I might my claws won’t grow back because you took them away from me. Furiously, you carry me by my neck to the door, red droplets trailing our descent.
I’m sorry for what I’ve done. Mew. For not being good enough. Mew. Please don’t discard me. Mew. I’m a living thing goddamn it. Mew.
You throw me out. Before I land on my feet, the door seals.
Slowly, I accept that there is no ‘us’ anymore, that I was the last ember of her dying fire in your heart and for that reason alone you resented me. Because I was your link.
My last thoughts, as I turn to the beasts lurking in the fortified darkness, the thoughts before I die are of you: You abandoned me, Sedge. You abandoned me.
The horribly illusive author, j.l.oneill, resides in a busted bungalow somewhere in Southern Ontario and practices as an electric wizard while writing surrealist horror. Read more madness at https://firstname.lastname@example.org.