Umbrellas and Broken Dreams

Written in response to: Start your story with a character being led somewhere by a stray cat.... view prompt

1 comment

Adventure Fiction Sad

Sitting on the Other Side of the Lake watching the rain had become a hobby of Dave’s since the breakup. 

He knew that Abbi had returned to Brazil to finish her studies, but he imagined her sitting on Her Side looking back at him, nonetheless.

Just like they used to.

Before she left the first time.

Little sprinkles of water turned to hard pressing nails in the blink of an eye. Then back to tiny needlepoints at once. And back again.

It was one of those days where the rain couldn’t or wouldn’t stop… but it also couldn't or wouldn’t make up its mind about what kind of a mood it wanted to set.

It was oddly comforting in a way. 

He wasn’t quite sure how he was supposed to feel either, and he was happy to let the rain dictate the level of his quiet discomfort.

He knew he would have to let go of Abbi eventually. He always did. 

But as far as long distance relationships had started… well, theirs was pretty terrible if he was being honest.

He found it too painful to talk to her about old memories. And when she had shared some new memories, new moods, with him he had been unable to respond in the correct, excited tone.

What do you do when your dreams become painful to others?

Or your memories for that matter?

“Meow.”

The little cat had broken his dilapidated train of thought. 

The tiny little meow snuck into his consciousness and seemed to hold him hostage.

Cat’s weren’t usually Dave’s thing, but this one had been sneaking up on him for a few days now. Every time he sat in his favourite spot.

So one day he decided to let the little cat lead him through the streets, and that’s how he ended up here.

At a little coffee shop he’d never seen before. Surrounded by cats.

It was almost creepy, except for the cuteness factor. A factor he didn’t know had existed until now.

Let alone the journey to get here. 

It had been as if he was in a dream.

A weird and painful dream.

Though at least this one is only hurting me.

Pondering his and Abbi’s relationship, he had wondered down the street, following the little cat’s bobbing black tail.

He decided it was a little cat, rather than a kitten. It seemed too wise to be only a few months or weeks old.

However old kittens are.

“Meow.”

The cat looked up from its saucer and seemed to demand his attention - but Dave had no idea what kind of attention he was supposed to give.

His latte was on the way. Wasn’t that enough?

I spent money at what is clearly your hang out, Little Cat. What more do you want me to do?

You’ve successfully recruited me. 

Consider me converted.

I like it here…

Now what?

“Meow.”

Leaving the lake had been harder than he imagined. Looking through the gumtrees to her apartment had become an obsession since she left.

Imagining lying on the couch inside there with her. Quietly laying about, watching her play video games while she sat on the floor in front of the couch. 

Waiting for her to either shout for joy and kiss him, or let out escalating strings of swears until she gave up and crawled up on the couch to snuggle into his body.

Much like a cat.

Though he had never thought of her that way before.

And it was a good thing too, because she would have hated being likened to a cat!

At least I didn’t screw things up by calling her a cat.

Yet the blame did not rest solely with him. 

She was the one who decided to challenge my worthiness as a person by starting a fight at her highschool reunion.

A reunion neither one of us wanted to attend.

Though isn’t that the way with all highschool reunions?

What happens when your obligations hurt another person?

“Here’s your latte! Oh, and I see that Curtis found you! He often brings in new customers for you. Where did he pick you up?”

Dave kept staring off into the distance and completely missed the opportunity for banter.

He was still trying to figure out exactly where the little cat had taken him. 

He’d followed little Curtis up the little makeshift laneway that bordered his flat. Past a couple of open streets and the down an actual laneway in town into a coffeeshop of all places.

A shop where almost everyone was holding, looking at, or talking about cats. 

A cat-fe.

Dave laughed and thought himself clever before realising that ‘Cat-fe’ was the name on the sign of the building. 

He sipped his latte and remembered the last time he had coffee with Abigail. Though of course he always drank hot chocolate. 

They had always joked he wasn’t grown up enough for coffee. Ordering a latte was his way of trying something new. Rebelling against the notion that Abbi still got any say in his ‘new life’.

He sipped the latte until it was finished.

And hated every moment of it, telling himself:

That wasn’t that bad. It’s definitely getting better.

Kind of like this breakup. 

Hopefully like his life.

As he got up to pay, Curtis left his side and went over to another customer. 

Bye Little Cat. Thanks for the morning out.

Dave decided to look around the laneway. He vaguely knew where he was, as he and Abbi had walked past this place many times.

Though usually it was Abbi who had given in to spontaneity and chosen which side streets to wonder down.

They had moved to Brisford together, you see. Different apartments, same uni course.

All those years ago. 

And now she was in Brazil, of all places, and he was stuck with a bunch of her stuff in his apartment, in between jobs, and over all down on his luck.

But at least he was away from the lake.

He remembered to grab an umbrella on his way out. Not his umbrella, mind you, an umbrella. From the bucket of discarded umbrellas at the door.

That’s how they get you.

They make you feel safe with cats, coffee and umbrellas and then you’re hooked for life.

He looked around to see if Curtis the little cat would come with him on this leg of his journey. But Curtis was sitting on the lap of some other customer, purring away.

Oh, that’s what you wanted, Little Cat.

My apologies.

What do you do when your inability to provide unprompted affection hurts the little cat who lured you out of your shell today?

And maybe that’s all Abigail had wanted too. A little bit of unprompted affection.

Sigh. 

And now I’m right back where I started.

Thanks for the fun while it lasted, Little Cat.

March 02, 2023 01:20

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1 comment

Liz Smallwood
12:02 Mar 08, 2023

I love your description and enjoyed this very much. You set the scene well and yes, cats are definitely fickle, like many a lost love. A good read.

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