Did You Hear the One About the Woman Who Hates Cats?

Submitted into Contest #187 in response to: Write about a human and a cat that come to some kind of mutual understanding.... view prompt

25 comments

Friendship Funny Fiction

      Jenn’s thirty-two-year-old husband, Jaret, passed away three months ago from throat cancer. It shocked everyone, for no one knew he was sick. Especially Jaret, who had gone to the dentist for his annual checkup when the doctor noticed unusual growths on his enlarged tonsils. A trip to an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor and an oncologist confirmed the professionals’ opinions. From there, it went all downhill.

      Jenn was understandably devasted that at twenty-nine, she was a widow. However, she was also spiritual and came from a family of self-described witches. Not in the pointy hat, broom riding kind of way, but the nature-loving, follow the lunar cycles, pray with your crystals around a ritualistic alter style. So, it only seemed natural to visit a psychic medium to see if she could talk to Jaret one last time.

      “Jenn, would you look at that?” Julie exclaimed as they exited Jenn’s Honda Civic in front of an unremarkable ranch-style home in an older neighborhood in the town they grew up in.

      “What am I seeing?” she sighed, already convinced it wasn’t meant to be with the mediumship thing. “Is it a sign to get back in the car and save me three-hundred bucks? How do these people come up with their fee structures, I wonder?”

      “Maybe your problem is that you need to open your eyes! Look at all the cats!”

      “I don’t see any…Oh! Well, hello there,” Jenn jumped. A large yellow tabby cat stood at her feet, staring up at her with the most enormous eyes she’d ever seen. As she leaned down to pat it, the cat turned and flicked its tail at her. She got the impression that it didn’t want her to touch it, which was fine by her. She never really liked cats anyway, with their fickleness and unappreciative behavior of a human’s affection. Considering their witchy ways, her family thought this was one of her most significant flaws.

      Tabby, as Jenn instantly referred to the cat in her head, flicked its tail again as if to tell her to follow it. So she did, with her older sister Julie close behind.

      “I’m pretty sure it wants us to follow it,” Jenn said absently as Julie caught up to her right side.

      “Seems like it, doesn’t it. Although I think going to the front door would be more appropriate,” Julie replied as the cat wove them through a small footpath between Italian Cypress trees and eight-foot-high lilac bushes that could use a good trim.

      Arriving at the back of the large property, the cat turned and curled its tail around its body and lifted its front paw to lick. The women stood in front of a miniature house. It was a shot-gun style bungalow that looked like a life-sized gingerbread house, complete with a gabled front porch, bright blue door, and matching blue painted window frames.

      “Whoa!”

      “Wow!”

      “Welcome!” a disembodied female voice called. “Go on in and make yourself at home. I’ll be right there.” She had a lilt that placed her from a different land and perhaps a different time.

      “What do you think?” Jenn asked Julie.

      “I was going to ask you the same thing!”

      Tabby yawned and walked away, bored with the women’s indecision.

      “We’ve made it this far. Might as well, I guess,” Julie encouraged, placing a hand on her younger sister’s back and giving her a little shove up the one wooden step that led onto the porch.

      “This is really something,” Jenn replied, admiring the porch swing mounted perpendicular to the porch opening on their left. Its bench was ornately carved to match the other architectural elements of the home and painted the brightest white Jenn had seen.

      Julie nudged her sister again, and they cautiously tiptoed inside.

      “Wow!”

      “Whoa!”

      “Welcome!” the disembodied voice came again, this time from behind them, causing both women to jump.

      “Oh, my dears. I’m sorry to startle you. Please, please, make yourselves at home. Can I get you some tea?”

      “No, thank you.”

      “Yes, please. Peppermint if you have it,” Julie answered. 

      “Really?” Jenn mouthed, rolling her eyes.

      Julie shrugged as she spun around, taking in the bright, beautiful space.

      “This is NOT what I expected at all,” Jenn sighed, appreciating the high ceilings accented in painted a-frame moldings. “And no cats?” she said aloud before stuffing her fist in her mouth to stop her from saying any further possible insults.

      Julie smacked Jenn on the back, but their host had already disappeared someplace else within the larger-than-life house.

      “This is way bigger inside than it looks. How can that be?” Jenn whispered.

      Julie grinned mischievously. “Magic? Like those Harry Potter tents when they went to the Quidditch Tournament with the Weasleys!”

      Jenn hissed. “Nerd.”

      Both women sat down on a striped, blue loveseat that seemed to match the color of the blue on the structure’s exterior. As soon as they settled, a tall, thin woman holding a serving tray appeared from a previously unseen doorway. She seemed to float across the room, her billowing dress flaring out behind her as if an invisible wind was directed only at her.

      “Are you seeing this, or am I tripping?” Jenn whispered to Julie.

      “If you are, so am I,” Jenn murmured back as she accepted a teacup from their host.

      “I’m so happy you are here. You must be Jenn, and you are…the sister…also a J name. Jess…no…Jul…Julianna. Am I right?”

      Both women gasped and grabbed each other’s hands in support or fear. Maybe a little bit of both.

      “Jenn, you told me on the phone that you’d recently lost your husband. I am truly sorry for your loss. But you know, they are never really gone, our loved ones. Some have jobs to do on the other side, some are still reeling from their transformation, but many are just clambering to get back in touch with the ones they’ve left behind. I don’t know if you are familiar with the process, but something tells me you are. This is how it works. I light a candle and some palo santo. That’s a sacred piece of bark that helps keep the energy nice and upbeat vibrationally. Then, I say a little prayer and ask your spirit guides and anyone else wanting to come by to say hello. The fact that you brought your sister with you may affect who actually comes through, but I believe you are hoping it will be your husband.”

      “Yes, ma’am. Jaret. I need to know that he’s okay and possibly the location of an item I can’t seem to find. But mostly, I just want to make sure that he knows I loved him very much.”

      “Of course, dear. I can tell you Jaret knows that already but let me see if he will come and tell you himself. Give me a minute here…”

      Jenn shot Julie a look when her teacup began to rattle from the shake in her hand.

      “Sorry,” Julie mouthed, as they watched with rapt fascination as the medium went through her ritual.

      “This is not like the other times,” Julie whispered, unable to contain her excitement.

      “Shhh!” Jenn snapped anxiously. “Don’t fuck this up for me.”

      “It’s okay, ladies. Relax. Let your minds and hearts be filled with love from all your dearly departed ones. There are so many I’m sensing around you both. It’s like a bright bubble of pure love surrounding you in a comforting embrace.”

      Gooseflesh popped up all over each woman’s body as if on cue. Jenn shivered with a chill that tickled up her spine.

      “I’m sensing a J spirit,” the medium spoke, her eyes still closed from her prayer, her arms opening wide in welcome. “Ah, but not Jaret. Another J.”

      Suddenly, her eyes popped open wide, her pupils dilated to the size of saucers.

      “Helllloooo, sisters! Boy, are you guys a sight for sore eyes. How long has it been? A hundred years?” the medium spoke and laughed, but not in her original voice. It was deeper, heartier, like a man’s.

      “Jacob?” Julie gasped.

      “In the flesh. Well, not my flesh. How the hell are you two? God, I’ve missed messing with you guys. I tried right after I passed over the veil to send you signs, but neither of you ever paid attention. For supposed witches, you guys suck at being in touch with the spirits.”

      “Why do you think we’re here, ass?” Jenn laughed. “Where’s Jaret?”

      “Jaret? Your husband, Jaret? How should I know! He was always slinking off behind your back. Maybe check his phone.”

      “He’s dead, Jacob. He died two months ago,” Julie snapped. “Don’t be a dick.”

      “What do you guys mean? Jaret cheated on me?”

      Julie rolled her eyes, and so did the medium.

      “Oh, come on. You didn’t really know?”

      Involuntary tears pooled in Jenn’s eyes. “This is NOT what I came here for! I want to talk to Jaret!”

      “Oh. Hey, sis. I’m sorry. We all thought you knew and just played dumb. Forgive me. Hey, listen. I’ve got a joke for you. You ready? What’s it called when all the cat treats are gone?”

      “Whh…what?” Jenn choked, holding back a sob.

      “A cat-astrophe!” the medium cackled in her brother’s distinct timber.

      “Oh. My. God. Death has made you dumber,” Julie laughed despite herself.

      “Here’s another one. Why do cats make terrible storytellers?”

      “Jacob. Stop this,” Jenn begged.

      “I want to know!” Julie smiled and squeezed her sister’s hand, which she still held from their initial shock.

      “They only have one tail!”

      “Ha. Ha. Okay. Enough of the cat jokes. You know I don’t care for them.”

      “Well, you need to start, sis. It’s all about the cats for you going forward. I’m here to tell you so.”

      “What? Is this another joke?”

      “I’m afraid not. Listen, you need to understand. Cats are where it’s at for you. They will change your life.”

      “This has to be a joke.”

      “Hey. I’ve got to go. Mary, here, is fighting me tooth and claw to regain control of her body. You needed to hear this. And hey. I love you guys so much. I’m sorry I left you so soon, but I’m not sorry I’m here now. Life was just too messy on that side for me. You know?”

      Both women choked up, remembering how Jacob, their eldest brother, had suffered from addiction since his motorcycle accident mangled his leg, ending his chance at a professional kickboxing career.

      “Love you, bro!”

      “Thank you, Jacob. Even though I don’t understand any of this. I love you, too.”

      “Remember. Keep your damn eyes open for signs. I’ll send them. Be ready. Be open. And don’t forget about the cats!”

      “But I hate cats,” Jenn sighed as they watched their medium slump as if she’d just sat down and passed out.

      “What?!”

      “What?!”

      “What?!” All three women shouted one after the other.

      “I’ve never had that happen before!”

      “Never had what happen?” Jenn asked the medium.

      “Never had a spirit take over like that. It was the strangest feeling. I could feel their voice inside my own throat and their energy tingling through my arms and neck.”

      “That was our brother!” Julie cried, trying to process the shock and awe of what had just happened.

      “I don’t understand any of this!” Jenn groaned. “Was that for real? What about Jaret?”

      “Oh, for the love of God, Jenn. Jaret was an asshat. He was with a different woman every weekend the entire time you were together. We all saw it. Figured you did too and just didn’t want to face the fact that the love of your life was a lying, cheating, no-good whore dog!” Julie ranted before putting both of her hands over her mouth in shock. “I don’t think that was me!” She muttered through her hands. “Jacob, if that’s you, stop it!”

      A disembodied echo of laughter seemed to travel up to the rafters before fading away.

      “Oh, dear. What an experience. Well, obviously, I won’t charge you for this session since I have no idea what happened. In fact, I may never do this kind of work again!” Mary the medium whimpered as she stood from her chair and hobbled over to the front door. She suddenly appeared much older than when their session had started. When she opened it, the cat escort, Tabby, appeared and waltzed in like they owned the place.

      “Shoo! No cats inside. You know the rules,” Mary said to the cat.

      It just looked at her and let out a long, low meow before prancing over to Jenn and jumping up beside her on the couch.

      “Oh!” she squealed, leaning away from Tabby and into her sister.

      “Jenn. It’s just a cat!” Julie sighed, reaching out to give the fluffer a friendly pat on the head.

      “Is it, though? After what we just witnessed, how can you be so sure?”

      “Meeoooowww!” Tabby howled, bumping its head into Jenn’s arm.

      “Well, ladies. It’s been real,” Mary interrupted, dropping her lilting accent from earlier. “I’m afraid our time is up. Feel free to take the cat with you. They are all strays. Strays and ferals who hang around for scraps and treats. I never want to see animals go hungry or cold, but they are not allowed inside. I made a shelter under the crawl space of the main house. They come and go as they please. If I can grab them, I bring them to my cousin, who is a vet, where they can be vaccinated, neutered, or spayed. Then they are marked, denoting that they’ve been cleared with good health. See the corner of his ear? That’s how you can tell if a feral has been treated and released.”

      “But he doesn’t seem feral. He’s downright friendly,” Julie commented, rubbing the cat under the chin. All the while, he stood directly on Jenn’s lap, enjoying the attention.

      “It seems as though you’ve all come to some sort of understanding. Now out you go. Time for a thorough energy cleanse and a bottle of gin. Nice to have met you. Good luck with your future endeavors and all those niceties. Oh, and please don’t contact me again. In fact, lose my number altogether.”

      Jenn tentatively scooped up the cat, and the three of them left the house, moving on to their new lives together.

      “Welcome to Tabby’s Taqueria. Where tacos and cats are our thing!” the sign read outside a streetside café. “Be sure to ask about our Rent-a-Cat program. We unite lonely cat lovers with shelter cats who could use some playtime and cozy time too. If you enjoy your time together, foster and adoption options are available. Apartment manager doesn’t allow animals? Stop by any time for tabbies and tacos!”

March 03, 2023 16:39

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25 comments

Viga Boland
04:58 Mar 04, 2023

Now that’s what I call great writing! Everything works perfectly: excellent plot; great characterization; strong visuals and plenty of smooth, realistic dialogue. and unless I missed something, grammatically perfect style. And of course, the humorous touches always work for me. 😉 Your story also reflects knowledge of your subject. How do you know all this? Did you research it or is it something you’ve always had an interest in? Bottom line KT…I’m so impressed. I was checking your page daily to see if you put up a story but I see what you ...

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KT George
14:27 Mar 04, 2023

I'm happy you made it back after your movie! Lol. I'm also honored that you were checking up on me. It was a busy week, and I just didn't have the time to sit and create in my usual setting. I do have some knowledge of the subject! I happen to know a "Mary the Medium", although she is not quite the one here! Would you believe that this is very loosely based on a true story?! Eeek! My brother passed a three years ago, young and very suddenly. My Mary texted me and told me he contacted her with a cat joke to tell me so that I'd know it was ...

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Viga Boland
15:20 Mar 04, 2023

Wow…that is truly amazing. No, I’m not a believer BUT, as my younger daughter often reminds me, things happen that we have no e planation for. So we have to keep an open mind…and I try. That said, when you tell me your experience, then who am I to deny the possibility? On another note, I am in awe you could pull out such a well-written story in a “busy week”! Gees, I’m retired, sometimes wishing for more to keep this old brain busy, and it still took me till Thursday to come up with “Cat-brained”…such an easy and short story to write in com...

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KT George
15:45 Mar 04, 2023

Your confidence only fluctuates because you are comparing yourself to others when there is no comparison! You are a unique individual, having a unique experience all meant for you. You have a fantastic way of telling stories too. If everyone were the same, having similar abilities, it would be a very boring world. Embrace your gifts and share them. I am grateful for your contributions to this community.

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Viga Boland
17:00 Mar 04, 2023

Aw gee KT. You know just the right thing to say, don’t you. Are you a therapist? 🤔😜 And in my heart, I know you are right. I accept that what I offer is unique and will resonate with a certain group of readers, like you. What I have to accept is that here, on Reedsy, my style doesn’t warrant being shortlisted when compared to much deeper, or more intricately woven stories. That said, I realize that what I write and how I write it, might be better suited to things like Chicken Soup for the Soul or senior humor publications. Have started to l...

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Tricia Cundiff
04:25 Mar 06, 2023

Such a fun story to read! I'm not great about the mechanics of writing; I write what must come out! I love to read something that makes me laugh; this was a great time-out from my work! Thank you for your submission; I'll look for more of your work.

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KT George
16:35 Mar 06, 2023

Hi Tricia! Welcome to Reedsy. Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. I'm happy you enjoyed the read. I had fun writing it!

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Mary Bendickson
00:43 Mar 05, 2023

Yes, I liked your story even if my name is 'Mary' and sometimes my profession had people thinking I was trying to be more than a massage therapist/hypnotherapist. In fact I may never do that kind of work again. Am I wrong but I got the impression 'Tabby' might be 'Jaret' or was 'Tabby' going to be left at the taco place?

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KT George
16:39 Mar 06, 2023

Hi Mary! Thanks for reading and commenting. Mary is a common name in my family and variations (Marybeth, Marylynn, Maribelle...), so I tried to have fun with the Medium character. I am happy you liked it.

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Bb B
22:34 Mar 04, 2023

Well, KT, this is about as good as it gets. Well done. I love your show don't tell approach. "Stuffing a fist in her mouth..." line comes to mind. Thank you for sharing this story!

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KT George
16:41 Mar 06, 2023

Thank you for the huge compliment, Bb! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. I had a lot of fun writing this.

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Zack Powell
17:12 Mar 04, 2023

This is a fun one, KT! I love the setup here - how we're meant to believe one thing about Jaret, and we're even meant to feel sympathetic about his death. Only to have all that flipped on its head halfway through when he find out what he was actually like. I enjoy stories that subvert expectations, and this one kept doing that. Love it. I appreciate the humor too, all the little jokes. Mary's fake lilt and accent, Jacob's brief possession of Julie, the taqueria, the silly cat jokes (read: dad jokes), asking a spiritualist for peppermint tea...

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KT George
16:44 Mar 06, 2023

I am happy you had fun reading this. It was one of those stories that just flowed out of me, and those always seem to reflect that joy. Thank you for the many compliments. I wish you luck in the contest. PS: With all the conjecture about life after life, it does make you wonder how much would change afterward, doesn't it?! 😜

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Kevin V
12:35 Mar 04, 2023

This is a good take on the prompt. I chuckled when she called her sister a 'nerd' because of the Harry Potter reference. I bet you had fun writing it. Tabby's and taco's! Creative.

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KT George
14:32 Mar 04, 2023

I'm so happy you got a laugh out of this one! I was hoping no one would get offended by the HP diss. I happen to love the series and would NOT be offended if someone called me a nerd. I'd wear it proudly. ☺️

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Stevie Burges
07:38 Mar 04, 2023

Well done. I liked that Tabby got himself a new home! Great writing- thanks.

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KT George
14:30 Mar 04, 2023

Thank you, Stevie! All Tabbies deserve a good home. 🤗

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Penelope Conlon
06:52 Mar 04, 2023

I laughed out loud, and really enjoyed where you went with this story, KT.

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KT George
14:29 Mar 04, 2023

Thank you, Penelope! I'm happy you got a laugh. That was what I was aiming for with this one because, to me, the idea of furry friends is to make you smile, laugh, and feel good. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

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Viga Boland
01:00 Mar 04, 2023

Just started to read this Kt but hubby has movie ready to go. Arrrgggghhhh. Was really into it too. I already know it’s going to be terrific. So I’ll be back as soon as the movie is over to finish reading it or I’ll do that in the morning. We’re in the middle of a blizzard here so I’ll have tons of time for reading and everything else tomorrow. No one will be going anywhere except outside to shovel. 😩

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Lily Finch
23:00 Mar 03, 2023

KT, Your work is quite a story when the medium is psyched out and claims she will never do it again and that the two should lose her number. Well done. I wondered how you would tie the brother's message into the storyline. Good job. I thought, at times, some of the conversations could have been shortened a bit between sisters and why the husband being a cheat was vital to the story. Otherwise, all good. All the fixins for a story. LF6.

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KT George
23:40 Mar 03, 2023

The cheating husband was a way for her to get past her emotional turmoil about his sudden death, which prompted her wanting to visit three different mediums. Basically, he wasn't all that, so she could move on and complete an arc for the story. I'm sorry I didn't make that clear enough. Maybe I'll go back and tinker with it before the deadline tonight! Thanks, LF6

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Lily Finch
00:06 Mar 04, 2023

No, don't change it because of what I said. It may be clearer to others. I have a thick skull you know. LOL LF6.

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Wendy Kaminski
20:47 Mar 03, 2023

Loved the Tabbies & Tacos! This was so neat and fun: "In fact, I may never do this kind of work again!" made me crack up. You psyched out the medium, lol. Gotta be a first! Lovely story, Kt - we actually have "Purrington's Cafe" near me that is a shelter-cat-interactive-type place like the one you mentioned. I haven't been yet, since I only heard about them at the start of Covid and they weren't open. I do want to go some day, but it'd be hard to leave without a new pal... :).

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KT George
23:38 Mar 03, 2023

I decided to have a little fun with this one. There are a couple of cat cafes around me and even a Rent-a-Pooch place too! They are entertaining, and it's gratifying to know these animals are not locked in a small kennel at a shelter, but roaming around freely, getting all the love. However, yes, it's hard not to want to take them all home! Thanks for reading, Wendy.

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