Cat Sense

Contributor: Bruce Costello

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Douglas the black cat watches. With unblinking eyes and twitching nostrils, he probes the atmosphere around the meal table. His dear Shona has invited a perfumed woman to dinner. And Douglas is a very intuitive cat.
On the mantelpiece a wisp of incense curls from a burner.
“Will you ever try again?” Missy asks, leaning forward, blue eyes smiling beneath dark eyelashes
Shona screws up her face.
“I’ve tried enough,” she murmurs, gesturing with open palms. “Each time I hold a bit more back.”
“Men hurt us,” Missy sighs. “But sometimes you have to take a risk in love.”
“But not too soon?”
“Of course not. When you’re ready.”
Shona closes her eyes, wrinkles her brow, and shakes her head. A few minutes pass. Neither speaks. Celine Dion stops singing.
“Shall I put the CD back on?”
Missy stands and crosses the room.
“All right then!”
Missy spins around. Shona’s hands are gripping the table as she pushes herself back in her chair.
“Okay! If I thought a man loved me and didn’t want to just use me, I wouldn’t hold anything back. I would take the risk!” Douglas stirs and mutters to himself.
Missy returns to the table and sits without a word. Her hands press hard on the arms of the chair, her fingers showing white against her scarlet nail polish.
She blinks, sniffs and turns away, with a glance towards Douglas, who is staring at her, eyes wide with suspicion.
“What on earth’s wrong?” asks Shona.
“I’m sorry, my dear,” Missy breathes, clutching her breasts, looking up through tears. “I went to a specialist yesterday. He gave me a diagnosis. And a prognosis.” “Not.....?”
Shona tiptoes around the table, kneels beside Missy’s chair, takes her hands, holds them to her cheeks and cries.
Douglas springs into the air. “She’s on heat! It’s a trick!”
“Stupid cat’s gone demented,” says Missy.
“I’ll put him outside.”
A panic attack jolts Shona awake. ‘Deep, slow breaths,’ the therapist had said. ‘Remember your dreams. We must explore your unconscious fears.’
It’s three AM. Shona creeps out of bed and changes her sweat-drenched nightie. She goes for a pee, and then to the kitchen, makes a cup of black tea, and sits at the table. The dream has vanished.
And that other thing the therapist said, what was it, you want something real bad but you’re scared what’ll happen if you get it, so you settle for something else, a compromise solution? What was that all about?
Shona returns to the bedroom, slips into bed, and wakes later to a stroking on the back of her neck.
How nice. How lovely.
The city is dawning, cars honking, sparrows farting. Visions of the everyday leap into Shona’s mind - traffic, the checkout, endless grumpy shoppers.
Anxiety rises, like reflux. She turns, pulls the other to her, touches her shyly down there, marvelling at the response, then feels profoundly content as the woman raises herself on an elbow and smiles down at her.
“We’ll be fine together, my darling,” whispers Missy.

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Bruce Costello retired recently and took up writing as a pastime. So far, he's had modest success and lots of fun
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