Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Guest Writer: Cath Barton

Not a Good Start to the Weekend

“Michael!” she yelled up the stairs at him. “My coat is completely covered in your cat’s hairs.” Oh, it was his cat today, was it?
“Well, you shouldn’t have left it lying on the floor.”
“I didn’t leave it on the floor. The ruddy cat pulled it down.”
Michael had by this time reached the bottom of the stairs, where Franny, fierce-faced, was holding up her once-black coat. Noise was still coming out of her mouth.
“Okay, okay,” he said. “I’ll get the cat’s comb and brush your coat for you.”
“You better had.” Franny, very red in the face, stomped upstairs.
*
Michael spent the next ten minutes searching for the comb. He knew the cat was moulting. But then so did Franny. They had both wanted to get the animal, though it was not the time to remind her of that. He couldn’t remember when he’d last used the comb. He rooted through drawers and cupboards, resolving, for the umpteenth time, to have a good clear out one day. Meanwhile, no comb. Sod it, he thought. What a way to start the weekend. This of all weekends.
“Franny,” he shouted up the stairs, “have you seen Merlin’s comb?”
No answer. And, come to that, where was Merlin? Gone to spread hairs somewhere else apparently.
Michael thought he’d better go out and buy a new comb. It wouldn’t exactly cost a fortune. He picked up his wallet, put on his (so-far-untouched-by-Merlin) coat and left the house. He knew that along the road and down the second turning on the right there was a short parade of shops. One of them was a sort of general store where he’d bought bird food in the past. He was pretty certain that he’d seen dried pigs’ ears there, and these were for dogs so it was a fair bet they’d have stuff for cats too.
Bugger! He thought to himself. This is not what I was planning on doing today. Making an effort, he straightened his back and took a deep breath. He was jolly well going to act as if everything was fine. Which it was supposed to be. Except that acting it didn’t quite work. He noticed the clouds coming over rather than the blue sky, the dog poo on the pavement rather than the daffies in the gardens. And wondered how and when there was going to be a calm moment to tell Franny his news.
*
As Michael approached the ironmongers Franny was out in the garden, looking for the cat. She was, to put it mildly, not feeling well disposed towards it. Blasted beast. Who in their right minds got a long-haired white cat? The hairs got everywhere. Merlin! Where was he?
Franny was worried. This was the first weekend for ages that she and Michael had been home together, and it was already going Horribly Wrong. They had to sit down and talk sensibly. She turned towards the house. The sun was glinting on something near the back door. As she walked up the path she could see that it was a key. She bent down to pick it up but before she could do so she was distracted by a small miaou. The sound was coming from under the mahonia bush. Merlin? The cat came towards her very slowly. He was holding up his right front paw. Oh, Merlin! The paw was hugely swollen and looked like a boxing glove. “My poor Merlin.” She spoke gently, but the cat backed off as Franny tried to pick him up, and retreated into his prickly den.
Franny snatched up the key and flung it onto the kitchen table as she went in. Seeing it had given her a funny sinking feeling but there was no time to think about that now. She had to call the vet. Damn! The surgery wasn’t open on Saturdays. She’d have to find out where there was a vet doing an emergency service. She felt by turns worried, cross and anxious and then the feelings all swirled together inside her and she burst into tears. Merlin crept through the back door and peered up at her. His paw looked awful. Oh, where was Michael?
Sod Michael, she thought. She’d take the cat to the emergency vet herself. She rang and found out where to go and then fetched the cat’s box from the cellar. She set it on the table and lifted the lid.
*
At that moment, unheard by Franny, Michael arrived back at the house and let himself in. As he reached the kitchen door he saw her, with her back to him, fastening the leather straps on the cat basket.
“What the hell are you doing?
Franny jumped. “I could ask you the same thing. Where have you been? “
“Out,” he snarled.
At that moment the cat, now shut in the basket, let out a piercing howl. “What in the world is going on Franny? What have you done to my cat?”
“Michael, the cat’s injured. I haven’t done anything to him but we need to get him to the vet.”
*
The emergency vet gave Merlin an injection of antibiotics. The cat recovered quite quickly, as cats do. That story had a happy ending.
Unfortunately the bigger story did not. Michael tried to explain how that key came to be lying outside the back door of the house, how he’d simply dropped it. Franny didn’t believe him – though she should have done, as it was true. Neither did she believe his story about getting a shiny new job, with a new shiny salary. Which was also true. He’d been planning to tell her that morning.
She threw him out. But kept the cat, who is still leaving his white hairs all over her clothes.

© Cath Barton 2010

Cath Barton lives in Abergavenny, Wales, where she writes, sings, gardens, walks and generally enjoys life. You can read her blogs on the 6S Social Network.

5 comments:

  1. Lightly told tale with heavy ending - this was a joy to read Cath, and the misunderstandings all too understandable.

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  2. Poor Michael didn't stand a chance. One of my daughters cats could be brushed three times a day and fill a small garbage can. That cat will never run out of hair. Great read. Makes me appreciate what my daughter goes through at her house.

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  3. If only cats could talk and people could communicate!
    Nice read.
    Jenny (6S)

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  4. This is the kind of story I like to imagine I could move into, Cath. I describe them to friends as small stories with big ideas. I have a book shelf full of small novels with stories in small settings, and a DVD collection of small movies. Many of which I return to again and again. The characters begin to feel like friends, and one almost feels guilty silently observing their foibles, but it's so much fun to do.

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  5. You have that old storyteller feel in this piece Cath. Great ending......or might that be a beginning???:)

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