a year in stories::twelve

A lot’s been going on and I want to talk about it but I’ve no time. I’ve decided, though, to discuss more here, like I used to. Or, you know, post more regularly. I guess I never posted much about me here. I’ll probably be dumping all thoughts political here, though. That’s where my head usually is and has been for the last couple years. Anycase, a new story. Just wrote it real quick, in about half an hour. The whole thing came to me while I brushed my teeth. Hopefully you dig it. Pretty short this time.

There was a cat with a face


Today a cat fell from the sky, which isn’t so weird, but it looked just like my sister. Hard to say how far it fell from but it definitely had my sister’s face. The thing wasn’t hurt by the fall, just sort of bounced off the sidewalk, rolled around, then curled up and licked its paw. This all happened right in front of me, so close in front of me, in face, that I dropped the book I was holding, which, incidentally, was sort of about cats the way all Murakami is sort of about cats.

It just, like, stared at me and so I stared back. When I say it looked like my sister I don’t mean it reminded me of her. I mean it had a human face–my sister’s human face. It had cat ears and a cat body, cat legs and cat tail, but its face–not its head–was my sister’s. I got lost staring at it and found myself sitting on the sidewalk of 5th Avenue staring at this weird cat until some girl asked me what I was doing. What are you doing, she said and I said Just looking at this cat, and she said Why, and I said Because it looks like my sister, and she said my sister must be pretty. She asked if it was mine and I said no and stood up.

She was pretty, the girl, probably a few years younger than me, so I asked her to coffee and she walked with me. As we walked I tried to forget about the cat with my sister’s face by talking about other things, like how all the birds in the city are dying or how pollution makes the sky prettier or about how football is racist or how true liberty exists on a beach in the middle of the night. I couldn’t tell if any of this was interesting to her so I kept talking, switching topics, and then she noticed the cat with my sister’s face was following us and I pretending like it didn’t matter but she asked again if it was mine so I asked her what she thought would happen if the moon broke in half and on and on, talking faster, and even when the bombs went off and everyone ran in all directions and she took my hand or I took hers, I kept wondering if she liked me, if this was a good first impression when the second and third bombs went off.

Trained as a first responder, she ran into the dust and smoke kicked up by the explosions and I followed her. She tore her skirt to make tourniquets and bandages and she took my shirt which made me selfconcious about my muffintop and pale skin but she could barely see me. I wanted to ask her about movies and music but there was so much screaming and pain that I just watched her, tried to help. Kids were missing limbs and I knew they wouldn’t make it through the night but I carried them as fast as I could back into daylight, away from the cloud of debris. I lost the girl for a while when I saw the cat watching me while it drifted from injured person to injured person, spreading a calming, a relief. Hours disappeared in this way, my pants cut to shorts for bandages, my shirt gone, and my skin coated in dust and dirt and smoke. Gasping by an ambulance where an EMT gave me oxygen, I saw her again and waved with just my fingers. She ran and threw herself into my arms.

She lived nearby and we went to her apartment to clean up. Barely clothed now, she was way too pretty for me and I knew I had no business being there with her but I couldn’t just walk away. When we reached the door of her apartment she told me the cat was still following me and we went inside before it got to us.

She let me shower first but quickly joined. I can’t say what it was, but probably the chaos and the adrenaline and the fear of mortality caused her to fall in love with me if only for a little while. Love works like that, I guess. She didn’t have any men’s clothes so I wore a robe and then she collapsed into bed and fell asleep almost right away.

The moon was missing from the sky but there’s never any moon or stars in the city but I still think about it a lot. Down on the street, the cat watched me and I heard it meowing even through glass and across fifty or a hundred feet.

The girl snored and whens he rolled over she farted but I still thought–no, knew: she was the most beautiful woman to ever touch me. I left a note with my number on her side table then taped it to her door, then her bathroom mirror, then put it back on her bedside table and left in the robe. The note said I’d return it but I thought this was a one time only deal, because life doesn’t give you a gift and let you enjoy it forever, but maybe it’s sexist to think of a woman as being a gift.

The draft tore through me as I walked home in her bathrobe. The cat followed about a half block behind me the whole way home but I let it inside anyway. I’d never seen a cat in an elevator but it didn’t seem to mind. Really, the cat only seemed to care about me. Staring and staring and never looking away.

It was late when I got inside but everyone was still awake. My mother ran to me and held me, her tears wetting my shirt, wanting to know why I didn’t call or answer the phone and I realised I lost my phone somewhere. Dad hugged me too and my sister cried a little. We all heard the meow and I opened up the door to let the cat with my sister’s face inside.

Where’d you get that, they asked and I said it fell from the sky. None of them cared much about the cat, probably because we’re dog people, but I asked my mother if she thought the cat looked weird and she said like what and I said like your daughter but my dad started laughing because he thought it was a joke and my sister told me to shut up. Picking up the cat I held it right in my sister’s face and asked her if it was like looking in a mirror but she just took the cat from me and told me to go to hell.

Held in my sister’s arms, the cat stared at me and my sister stared at me and I guess I passed out or something because I opened my eyes and was on the floor, the cat with my sister’s face licking my cheek while my mother hungup on the doctor or nurse or whoever. Thank god said dad and they lay me in bed and the cat jumped in too. Before my dad closed the door he asked about the robe.

I met a girl, I said.

He laughed so hard he choked and then just closed the door.

The cat with my sister’s face keeps staring at me and I keep pretending to be asleep already.