Contemporary Creative Nonfiction Fiction

Marcia the cat and I once flatted together in the capital . When her person Chrissie moved out she swore it’d take her ages to recover. At the time I’d found that a bit harsh. After all no one told her to bring her over sensitive cat into the household.

Watching now as she padded gracefully through the open French doors that seemed a lifetime away. From the way she was eyeing me it was as if we’d never met.

“It’s me Marcia.”, I whispered. “Surely you remember me?”

The expression she fixed on me said otherwise. “Traitor.”; I mouthed hoping my former human flatmate Chrissie wouldn’t hear. As Marcia’s “person” she had very fixed ideas about the treatment of her feline companion. Calling Marcia a traitor wouldn’t go down well.

I shrugged, “No I guess you don’t.”

Though considering I’d been responsible for the dog I couldn’t imagine her forgetting me in a hurry, ‘Which means you probably do but are denying it. Definitely a traitor.’

Marcia of the sleek, white fur and pink ears. Nervous Marcia who’d survived two years in a flat you could only describe as whacko. I wondered if she’d ever forgive us for making such a dent in her feline psyche. I’d made two huge faux pas, labelling her as an albino and introducing a dog into the mix. By contrast her new home in Dunedin was quiet and predictable. That’s how Marcia preferred life. Her eyes bored into me as I took a seat. Their expression made it clear this was her place. As her appointed companion for the evening we would play by her rules.

As Chrissie hurried outside to catch her ride I settled in for the long haul. It promised to be an interesting night,

“Well Marcia ole’ mate it’s down to you and me.”, I ventured. Her expression implied unpleasant flashbacks. So as I closed the French doors I tried another tack. Chrissie had made it very clear that Marcia must be kept in at night. ”Ok, we’ll forget the ole’ mate bit.” I tried sheepishly. “Look I’m sorry about Wellington, but I wasn’t used to the finer feelings of cats. My family have always been dog people.”

To my mind this sounded sincere enough. Marcia however regarded me with a look of pure scorn. Screwing up her nose she ranged herself in front of me adopting what I called “her sphinx pose” as she regarded me down its aquiline length. Her way of putting me firmly in my place. “I know apologies seem cheap but I really am sorry” Just what was I doing justifying my past to a cat? This was definitely stretching the bounds of friendship.

I contemplated a DVD. Chrissie had oldies like Dead Calm with Nicole Kidman before she became famous and Silkwood with Meryl Streep where she revealed she could sing. I was a fan of both actresses, Beau Bridges who also appeared in the latter held no appeal. Kidman won out.

The movie was progressing nicely when Marcia padded closer. Rubbing herself against my leg she inched away as I reached to stroke her. Clearly an indication that touching wasn’t permitted. Instead she positioned herself between me and the TV. Avoiding her gaze was impossible and now I had one up on the gossip magazines. “Cat in Dunedin New Zealand upstages Nicole Kidman,”

I contemplated ejection into the dark reaches of the well appointed backyard. However from past experiences I knew this would not be in my best interests. Marcia was Chrissie’s most significant other, She had rights here (unlike Wellington) and those not prepared to show due respect soon became persona non grata. Things had changed for this feline and she knew it.

“Just try it”, she seemed to be saying fixing me with her all too familiar scowl. “and see what you get,”

I imagined her witnessing my ejection into the murky depths of Dunedin, and loving every minute of it. Unnerved by her disdain I tried again to explain. It was nothing personal, I’d always been more of a dog person. Growing up pets fitted around humans. I couldn’t help but speculate upon my own sanity. Since when had I last sat virtually talking to myself while a cat took delight playing psychological mind games?

At the sound of a key turning in the lock I decided I’d had enough. Jumping to my feet I threw up my hands begging Marcia to give me a break. Meanwhile Chrissie removed her coat, then bent to hug my feline protagonist.

“Your cat….er had a real knack for mind games.”, I exclaimed.

”So”, Chrissie replied “she’s finally managed to make you feel uncomfortable? Can’t say I’m surprised.”

”You almost make her sound human,”

At the same time I nodded to Chrissie’s offer of coffee,

Once we were seated with our drinks she described our former living arrangement from a cat’s point of view. All the while she stroked Marcia who nestled comfortably at her side. Growing up pets were considered family members. Marcia had come from that loving environment into a maelstrom of chaos. I’d exacerbated the situation by insisting on a dog.

“I guess I’m to blame too for thinking it could work.” Chrissie admitted. “I guess I was selfish too. Preferring to share rent than pay for a bed sit.”

She had a point and by the time I left we’d patched things up. Marcia too was prepared to forgive. She allowed me the occasional stroke, even purring as she rubbed against my legs. There were a couple more conversations and a definite easing of the mind games. In fact to give Marcia her due she’s a bit of a Kitty Warrior, There’ll definitely be more contact too, because Chrissie’s asked if I can cat sit long term. Like when she does her O.E. I’ll get to live her life while she’s away, living in this cool place and of course a lot more conversations with the cat, Just Marcia and Me……and maybe if I ease him in the dog as well. This time though under controlled circumstances and playing by her rules.

February 25, 2023 04:36

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