My cat suffocated in my hair last night. I could not feel her struggle in my sleep, paralyzed by sleeping pills and anxiety. She loved me with all her life. I was followed no matter where I went. Even when I showered, she sat on the sink and waited. I used to set her on my shoulder while I planted celery seeds.
She was a gift from a dead friend. One night, Adrino came to the porch, placed her in the window and motioned for me to come outside. “Hey.” he said. “I know I’m lifeless and we can’t be friends any more, but this creature is alive and can replace my comfort.” I lifted the cat high above me, stared at her lavender eyes as my own gushed with fluid. “Meow.” I introduced myself. Adrino tickled my cheek then dissolved in the atmosphere.
She was terrified the first night she was mine. She ran through the house, upsetting the furniture and neglected glasses. I stepped through the broken shards to get to her. She hid beneath the couch for hours. I took a flash light and shined it on her. I’ll never forget the way she looked at me. It was as if she understood the same terror I felt. There was mercy in her eyes. She was gentle in her understanding of my depression. She wanted to heal me.
I haven’t had a hair cut in 16 years. I was in the fourth grade when I refused to ever let scissors shorten my hair again. I often trip on it when I am walking. Sometimes I hide my face in it so I will feel pretty and mysterious.
I never gave my a cat a real name. I just called her she. “Trot this way to me, She. I need your innocent affection.” On my 21st birthday, She and I sat together on the steps and drank water. It was the middle of fall, so the trees were shedding. Many of the leafs got into She’s bowl. The water tasted like Aspirin and decay. I think Adrino wrung out his sleeves in it.
I couldn’t live without She. When I pulled her carcass out of my hair, I was making plaintive noises, much like the disturbing sounds you hear from a woman after she has discovered she is alone again. I crushed her body against my heart, swaying with her as I pretended I was reckless enough to dance and let my bereavement possess me. Her fur smelt like my shampoo, which was mint. The odor alarmed me, as I knew what aroma was coming next.
I imagined where I’d bury her and that I’d bury myself too. I decided the celery garden would be suitable. Maybe she would nourish the roots.
The last time I ate vegetables they gave me heartburn. I opened the fridge, which was empty and climbed inside. I wanted coldness, absolute coldness. As I was shutting the door, She appeared and jumped inside with me. The temperature was not cool enough to soothe the burning in my chest. She’s body was freezing as I held her against me the night she died. I wished I had heartburn again.
I placed her body inside a Valentine’s day candy box. Adrino had bought it for me a few years before he died. I dug her grave with my own claws, clenching my teeth so I would not vomit with grief as I did so. When the hole was ready, I scooted the box towards it, my entire body shuddering.
“You will always be the love of my life.” I whispered. “I am already picturing the day we plant together again.”
I carefully laid her in the ground, closing my eyes as I covered her up. My limbs could barely support me as I staggered away.
“Do not be upset forever.” I heard Adrino’s voice close by. He was standing against the fence with an auburn cat in his arms. “I have more company for you.”
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