Her dazzle didn’t work on him. His myopic view of the world focused on science alone. Furious, she threw a basin of water in his face. Sputtering, he finally looked up at her.
"I can tell you're a cat person," said the attendant behind the counter at the animal shelter. "But there are cat worshippers, who dote on their cats and treat them like royalty, and there are the 'Cats are aloof,' folks who provide food and shelter, but otherwise ignore the cat."
"I'm the 'cat worshipper' type."
"We have just the thing for you," said the attendant as he led her into the room full of cages.
"How about this one?" he asked, pointing to a cage half way down the row.
"Perfect!" she said.
The attendant opened the cage and put a collar and leash on the small, blue-eyed blonde woman inside and then gave the leash to the large gray tabby he'd been talking with.
The adoption finalized, the seal point Siamese attendant said, "If she doesn't work out, you can bring her back anytime within the next month.".
Fridays were always difficult. Images from the confusing recent past –fact or fiction? – flashed through her mind. Unable to sort it out, she confided in Aunty Em, always a paragon of good will and common sense.
“Fridays can be stressful,” Em agreed. “Stick to simple everyday tasks, nothing
mentally demanding. Cleaning, gardening, sewing . . . ”
Cleaning? Ugh! It was too cold for gardening. She picked up a pile of unfinished mending and went to the sewing machine. Oh, s--t! The bobbin was empty.
That did it. Time to start a new thread.
I told the teacher I had to go.
"Really," I pleaded.
"There isn't time," she said. "We're on next and you’re one of the angels watching over the manger."
"I can't wait," I said. "I'll hurry."
"We're on now," she said, giving me a push into the spotlight.
I made it to the back of the crib where the Christ child lay, and then I could hold it no longer.
It started as a trickle down my leg then spread beneath my long white dress and soaked into the hay.
It was such blessed relief, I'm sure I looked angelic.
Bereft, Alice fell asleep gazing out of the window. Her beloved cat had vanished; she couldn’t imagine life without it. She needn’t have worried, it returned the following morning.
“Where have you been?” Alice asked grumpily.
“I’ve been out, studying stars with a new cat called Batman,” her cat explained. “We looked at Orion. Pretty nifty dude, actually.”
“For a Trappist cat, you’ve a lot to say,” Alice replied, adding jealously, “Are you about to leave me for Batman?”
“Orion’s the nifty dude,” her cat said. “And fear not, I may be a Trappist, but I’m also a humanist Trappist.”
“I guess you’re wondering where I’ve been,” he said.
She looked away, afraid he would see her eyes, red from crying and lack of sleep. He had moved in a month ago after losing his job and his apartment.
Now it was 6 in the morning, and he was just returning from his restaurant job. Where had he been? With that waitress who kept calling? With his buddies at the strip bar?
She wondered what would happen if she confronted him. Would he storm out and leave her alone, again? She turned her gaze back to him.
“Can I get you some coffee?”
From up here, the view is spectacular. As I glide through the clouds, my arms outstretched, I can see the colored checkerboard of earth below. I can feel the wind through my hair and across my face. I can hear birds chirping from trees at my current eye level, along with planes even more clearly than from the ground. I can smell the fresh air like never before. I can taste bugs that accidentally get stuck in my teeth. Yep--flying is cool ... especially for a person!
She approached the gurney grabbing the patient by the throat. “Where’s the key?”
People rushed in from all sides – nurses, a gynecologist, even one of the janitors. No one could prise her grip from the man’s neck.
“Get lost,” he croaked, a grin on his face.
“The key to set my child free. Now. Or so help me god I’ll ...”
She could feel the vibrations of his laughter through his larynx. Her grip tightened. Something cracked under the pressure, his eyes bulged. The small crowd moved back. A bad smell. She looked down. His bowels .... and the key.
Ho Ho Ho
The 700 plus Christmas cards she had to write wasn't the worst aspect of the festive season, Alice reflected, but Christmas karaoke certainly came close.
Her hook up with Danny had been rather too hasty, based on the judgement of their shared cat. How could Alice have known that Danny would have such a penchant for cheesy Christmas tunes pelted out at full volume after a sherry or five?
“At Christmas time, there's no need to be AFFRAAIIDDD,” he swayed to the music. “Oh yes there is,” Alice thought mutinously to herself, nursing the gun in her pocket.
Dear Lord, thought the cat as he peered at Alice through narrowed eyes, forgive me. Oh yes, even Trappists can be beguiled by the contrary spirit, perhaps especially Trappists! It had seemed like a good idea. Bring them together, let them learn to love each other. What was I thinking -- that they were cats?
A woman awakens and realizes, “I’m ready.”
On the freeway, a man grips the wheel, a pressure in his chest, but there is no one there to speak.
Two ambulances race to the hospital; one carries a woman in labor, the other a man whose breathing is labored.
In one room, a doctor eases an infant out of the birth canal; in another, a light traces a straight line across a screen.
The woman wonders when her husband will arrive.
Just another day in the life of planet Earth.
Heads that used to turn when she walked into a room now fail to notice her arrival, or else they turn in disbelief.
Eyes that used to look with admiration, lust or envy, now glance and look away, embarrassed or repulsed.
“It’s only been a few years since I saw her,” they whisper to each other. “Man, has she gone downhill in a hurry!”
“What the hell happened?” one old classmate asks another. “She used to be so vibrant and so lovely.”
The classmate turns away and walks toward her, smiling.
Flash fiction indeed, she thought, still recovering from the cat's outrageous remarks. She continued wrestling with the bobbin and fumbling for a new thread, while considering:
A touchy real estate situation,
A scheduled performance for which she felt ill-prepared,
The upcoming holidays,
Not to mention a backlog of regular work,
And all those unexpected interruptions.
The thread slipped from her hand again. Good lord, was that more gunfire down the street? She found it hard to be creative in this rushing stream of consciousness.
But she had an idea – almost. She reached for it -- Alas! 99 words.
The actors rehearsed for weeks, learning their lines and blocking. Carpenters built sets and artists painted them. Seamstresses sewed elaborate costumes. Advertising was plastered everywhere. Opening night finally arrived. The actors took their places as the music played over the speakers. The curtains opened. The lights came up. Alas, the auditorium was empty
Batman stood on my chest, purring into my face at 3:24 a.m. He wanted to be let out. I opened the kitchen door, and he disappeared into the dawn. I then saw Orion lying on his side over the barn roof. I’d seen his belt many times, but I never understood how people could imagine the entire guy in the sky. This night I saw his head, his upper body, the belt, and his legs. None of this was literal or realistic, but it was all there—Orion without a doubt. I owe it all to Batman.
“I’m stuck in traffic,” he said. “Just passed this burned-out shell of a car that must have caused the jam, but traffic is moving now, so I should be home soon.”
“I’m glad I decided to make chili tonight,” she said. “It just gets better the longer it cooks.”
“Had a great day,” he said. “Met a lot of nice people; learned a lot of stuff.”
“Pretty people?” she asked.
“Not particularly,” he said. “Just interesting.”
“Come home to me,” she said.
She could tell him later about the blood test.
First, she would rock his world on this plane.
Ici. There were waves and there were birds and there was a DVD. It hung on a string to stop the birds crashing into a glass sliding door. And it spun. Casting interfering waves to the man sitting at a table with a computer trying something impossible. And the waves interfered and proceeded into his eye and caused him to be, self-referential, needing no Wigner's friend.
The deformity of her face was pronounced: protruding jaw, bent forehead, glasses. But in his eyes she was beautiful, tall and slender, smooth pale skin. His parents were shocked. Grandfather yelled vehemently at the matchmaker. But to no avail. "We can't embarrass the bride." There was no recourse, no backing out. A plate was broken, the engagement was irrevocable. The wedding held two weeks later was lively. They rented near her parents. He studied. She worked. The parents paid. That's how it's done in their society. It took some getting used to. And it happened so fast.