My Darling Katarina

Contributor: Lauren Erath

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Two bells and a pearly button on a purple ribbon, the clinking of such has always given me grief. Even so, Katarina insists that her bracelet is more bearable than my biscuits. Yet no guest has bemoaned my breakfasts, unlike the patter of this impatient pest, the trauma of which proves permanent.
“They’re too soft, like Pirouette, and who would crave a kitten like that?” she asks, analyzing the bread as an artist would a brush’s end.
Bored, Katarina places her thimble on her pinky, with which she clanks the candlestick holders. Her twinkly eyes wander about the worn table cloth. Meanwhile, Pirouette parades atop her shoulder.
“Eternal child, take that cat from your shoulder and don’t tamper with the candlestick holders any longer. We can’t afford another catastrophe like last April,” I shrill amidst my clinking dentures.
“How can someone be troubled by something so silly and simple?” Katarina asks, placing Pirouette on an apple.
The pet poses as if such an action were subtle, while Katarina plays with its purple bow. It matches Katarina’s dress in tone.
“What seems simple and silly to you is nothing less than horrific and cruel to everyone else. Have you forgotten the near forfeit of Ms. Erica’s pulse?” I inquire, wishing I’d have hired that ‘antique collector’ after all.
I snatch Pirouette’s new pedestal, polishing and returning it to the table.
“I can’t recall that incident,” Katarina says, fixing her frills and stroking her wit, “common sense states Pirouette and I couldn’t have been there, which Ms. Erica made most clear.”
“Oh, certainly! Certainly! How much longer must such humor haunt my scant guests and me?” I demand, knowing Katarina will reply gaily,
“It will continue until I’m undoubtedly dead.”
Katarina, bold as ever, chances another clank against a candlestick holder, chuckling as the candle crashes into the crepes.
I sigh, apprehending a cloth from my apron with an arthritic hand, muttering “Your naughtiness is why I won’t light its neglected end.”
The doorbell decrees that raw guests wish to request our residency.
“I’ll get it!” Katarina insists as she masquerades into the main hall with mocking innocence.
“Stop your stomping and sit. I’ll greet our guests!” I say, crossing the room as the clock cries noon instead of nine. “Must you meddle with the hour hand?” I ask my little madam as I clasp the door knob.
“Oh my, come in!” I exclaim, letting in a grim, sickly man stricken by rain.
Hopefully, this one’s mundane.
“May Pirouette and I play in the puddles?” Katarina asks, peering through the shutters, “Perhaps our guest should retire in a relaxing atmosphere. Should we remain he may claim we’re...”
“Yes, before your impatience is more severe,” I whisper, wrapping my sweater on the sneezing sir.
“What was that?” he asks, extracting the sweater and seizing a cask from his coat.
“Oh you mustn’t mind,” I entreat, ushering him upstairs to our handsomest of suites. “I converse with myself from time to time. Since I lost Herald to a tuberculous spine I…”
“Hear that?” my guest mutters, concealing a mucid cough.
“Pa-pardon?” I sputter, aloft the aged staircase, cursing Katarina and her childish haste.
“The screeching. How strange,” he replies, straining his rosen ears, “Too strong and rigid to be mice, I fear. Storm-caused? How odd. Should have picked a sturdier stay I suppose.”
“That’s those blabbering demon-birds. You know, they crowd the courtyard in droves,” I assure, snatching his abhorrent liquor. “Now come along and change your clothes.”
“This room’s air is rather stale,” he states, sulking about the suite like a lake-less loon. “Rather like a tomb…”
“Lone chambers are quite lamentable. Surely your wife would make such solemnness less tangible,” I say, dividing the drapes.
“I’m a bachelor,” he barks, “and will bald before I marry, I swear. This mare isn’t fit for matrimony’s reigns. Besides, women are wearisome as an ink stain. Once they appear, there’s no thwarting them.”
“Oh my!” I exclaim, clutching my chest at what I witness beyond the window. “What the screeching is, you’ll never guess! Surely it isn’t the crows!”
“Stop fretting, such frivolity’s grotesque…by God!” he gawps, galloping off, moaning “Demonry! That damned swing is possessed!” while the stairs shudder at his departure.
“I’d rather ingest every screech of someone who is troublesome and sweet than bear the blatant pounding of a presumptuous, drunken poltergeist!” I cry, gazing out the glass and echoing her laughs as thunder blares and bold lighting shows the impossible to and fro of that phantasmal child, forever known as my darling Katarina.

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Lauren Erath studies Creative Writing at Concordia University Saint Paul. She enjoys writing fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry
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