The second coffee grew cold as my sighs grew old. It rested on my kitchen counter, mocking me, right next to the trash can. I should just knock it over and let the whole thing be gone. The five bucks I spent on it were already gone, so there’s nothing to lose. But I didn’t.
Originally, I wasn’t even planning on buying a second coffee. But when the barista said, “your usual one coffee just for yourself,” with a sneer smile--he didn’t actually have one of those--as I held up the line of people ready to spend twenty pus dollars on beverages for their friends, or lovers, or coworkers, I just couldn’t stop myself from remarking, “actually no, I want two coffees. One for me and one for a friend.”
That’s right, I thought as he prepared the coffees, paying absolutely no attention to my imaginary conversation or me, I have friends!
Except, I don’t and that coffee now room temperature because I can’t handle more than ninety-five milligrams of caffeine per day.
I sighed as I stared at the paper cup.
What a waste.
I plopped down on the right side of a beige love-seat into my familiar butt mold. The left side is still as pristine as the day I got the damn thing. A reminder on my phone beeped. Take out the trash, it flashed. With a sigh, I grabbed the trash bag, gave the coffee cup a quick glance on the counter as I left it there and headed out the door.
As I chucked the bag into the greasy dumpsters behind my apartment building, I heard a soft meowing from the depths of the alley. I tightened my hood around my face and whispered. “I swear to god, if you’re a serial killer posing as a cat I will drop kick you.”
It meowed again. Defying my logical mind, a feral curiosity pulled me deeper into the alley. “Hello?”
A third meow answered as I tried to locate the source. I ducked my head behind a cardboard box to find a stray calico cat with a swollen front paw. I exhaled in relief. “You’re just a cute little cat. Awe.”
My eyes narrowed on the swollen paw. “What happened to you little guy?”
He meowed in response.
“Don’t know why I was actually expecting a verbal English response from a cat. I’m a little crazier than I remember!” I chuckled to myself at my own joke. Okay, maybe a lot crazier. Who’s counting? Shut up!
Slowly, I reached out for the cat’s paw to investigate, but he hissed and swiped at me. “Ow, rude!”
The cat shifted in place, resettling into a donut formation. Then, I got a clear shot of the paw; a bloody, red thorn was stuck in it. Must have been hurting like a bitch.
I rubbed my hands together. Alright, Emmy, you can do this, I coaxed to myself, just gotta out con the cat.
Again, I reached out for it. It snarled and slashed my skin. “Jesus Christ!” I cried as I held the wound to my chest. “Would you stop that?!”
Out of irritation, I slapped the cardboard box on top of him. Out of luck, only his injured paw stuck out. Quickly, I yanked the thorn out. Then, I removed the box and prepared for an angry anti-box cat. But, he didn’t hiss anymore.
Still a little shy with his paw, the calico limped over to me and purred as he brushed his face over my calf. A small smile found a home on my face as I picked him up. “Me and you, we’re not enemies.”
His ribs poked out from his fur. “Let’s get you some food, alright?”
I set the calico on the kitchen counter as I chopped up some carrots for the cat to chew. As I set the plate in front of him, he turned his head away. “Picky little thing, aren’t ya? Well, I think I have some shrimp left in the fridge from eating out last week.” I kept talking as I pulled out the foam container. “I ordered two meals since my mom gave me this gift card for two at this really fancy place uptown. You’ll like this.”
And like it he did. Within seconds, the greedy kitten had scarfed down all the shrimp I had saved. He purred and nuzzled my hand. “You’re pretty cute, you know that?” I scratched his head. “I think I’ll call you… Ami,” I purred with what little French accent I had.
Ami chirped with approval and started prancing around my kitchen counter with a new sense of authority as my new roommate. When he reached the edge, he swiped at the cold coffee cup and it splashed into the trash can.
“Ha!” I laughed and retreated to the love set where Ami followed me. He took up refugee on the left side. “I think I’m gonna like having you around here, Ami.”
The next morning I woke up to the smell of a rotting, infected cat carcass.
Maybe I should have taken the dirty alley cat with an open wound to the vet after finding him. Oh, well. Hindsight is 20/20.
Plus, I’m too stubborn to accept this.
I twirled around to my bookcase. So where was that self-book on necromancy my weird aunt Alya gave me for Christmas. I tossed back all the other self-help books she gave me in a blind fury as I scoured for it.
“How to Cook a Meal That Won’t Poison You, nope. How to Avoid Accidental Tax Fraud, nah. The charred remains of How to Get a Boyfriend For Your Aunt’s Wedding in Ten Days? Should have let this thing burn a little longer.” I pinched it by the tenuous spine. “It’s still alive,” I whispered, horrified.
“Ah, here we go.” I pulled out Necromancy for Absolute Idiots, #2 on New York Times bestselling. “That’s funny,” I muttered to myself. “I didn’t realize there was a ranking below number one.”
I laid Ami on a dish towel and started flipping through the pages, letting the new book smell waft into my nose. “That’s the stuff. Better than drugs!” I eyed my stash hidden in my sock drawer. “No, actually, still second best.”
I thumbed halfway through to the easy stuff, skipping all the unimportant details like that ‘dangers’ of necromancy. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Clearing my throat, I read out loud. “Quia solus non sum daemonium daemonium super tollere. Adduc, florum.”
I grabbed a kitchen knife and slit my thigh, letting the leggy blood drip out and over Ami. I clapped my hands together and told myself, “well that should do it. So, how long does this take?”
Turning back to the book, I flipped through to find the time. “Huh, so this says it actually opens a portal to the underworld to retrieve the soul and--oop there it is.”
A glowing, swirling, purple and orange vortex opened up on the floor near Ami. “I feel like the book could have done a better job about warning about a two-portal to hell. Like maybe, one (1) author’s note about it wouldn’t kill.”
I poked a kitchen knife into the portal and I’m pretty sure I hit a demon horn. With a glance back over at Ami’s corpse, memories of those sweet four hours we knew each other came back. Like that time he knocked over the coffee cup. Ah, I remember it like it was yesterday.
I tucked the book into my pants and tested the portal’s waters by dipping my toe in. “Well, I’m not dead yet. Might as well.” And then I threw myself in.