All her life Sara had been alone, but never lonely. She could take a picnic at the park by herself and never feel alienated. Lunch for one at the cafe was quite nice. Couples paired around her, two by two. If requiring a mate had been necessary to save herself from destruction, she would have watched Noah's Ark depart while finding a solitary spot to enjoy the coming rains.
But there was something about this house.
Once she entered, a grip tightened on her soul. Perhaps it began with her aunt's failing health? But why? Imminent death had never affected her. When her aunt passed, the grip strengthened. Sara would leave as soon as possible, but first - the cats.
How many cats were too many? One. One was too many. Aunt Meg had owned four. Three of them would scurry and hide, but one hovered. The shiny black male.
Humans noted that Sara preferred her space. Animals also gave a wide berth, but this cat? Always peering, always purring.
After her aunt's ashes were spread, she'd relocate the cats, sell the house, and resume her reclusive reality.
The doorbell rang on Monday. The fluffy cat was first. White fur under the couch signaled her hiding spot.
“Sorry to disturb, Madame. But time to be scooting,” Sara pulled gently at the gorgeous Persian. The cat allowed herself to be picked up and delivered to its new owner, patiently waiting at the door.
“How gorgeous! She's even more beautiful in person! What's her name?”
“Name?” Oh. Right. Cats had names. She had been calling for mealtime saying, “Cats, come!” and they'd responded. It never occurred to her to name them. “She is -” a momentary pause. “The White Queen.”
“Quite regal! Thanks!”
Thursday morning, another claimed the short-haired Tortie. Again, they requested a name.
Sara deliberated, “That one is- Tortoise.”
“Not very clever, is it? Ha! But it'll do the trick!”
Shutting the door, Sara scanned the room. The black cat was spying again, always. What did the other cat look like again? Damn. She would have to create a name on the fly.
That afternoon, the little girl held the ball of fur in pudgy arms and asked. Of course, she asked. “Wasshiss name, Missuss?” Due to her missing front tooth, it actually sounded like, “Whathith name, Mithuth?” Normal, social adults probably found that cute and endearing.
“Three.” Sara answered curtly.
“Like the number?” she scrunched up her nose in a way that was probably adorable to most normal human beings.
Her mother tugged the girl and hurried towards the car, aware of Sara's frostiness. “Thanks so much. We'll care well for him!”
With three gone, Sara leaned against the door, cracking her neck. The pops and crackles released tension held throughout her upper shoulders. Pressure against her leg drew her attention. Black fur was snaking through her legs, marking her.
“Sorry, cat. I guarantee you'll have a better life with whoever shows up for you.”
After rinsing the dinner dishes, she dried her hands on the rough dishtowel. Looking around the kitchen, she moaned with contentment. Walking outside to the porch swing, she sat under the silvery-blue glow of the full moon.
She should have heard him approaching, but he stalked like a panther. She should have been startled, and yet – she wasn't. Something about this dark-haired man seemed familiar, soothing, and safe.
They spoke through the night and she felt compelled to bare her soul to him. She invited him in for tea at midnight, and moved to the couch to kiss until 2. His eyes were the most radiant green she had ever seen. The left one had a small gray patch striping his emerald iris. At 4, they moved to the bedroom, but talked only- until she drifted to sleep.
At 9 am. she roused to the sound of knocking at the front door. Purring beside her, the black cat opened its eyes lazily, revealing a very unusual striped left eye. Pulling on her robe, she ran to the door.
“Sorry. I forgot to cancel the ad. But that cat -well,” she felt her eyes drawn to him, and remembered the feel of the silky black strands of hair beneath her fingers. “I belong to him.”
“Belong to him?” the man chuckled. “True cat lover, are ya? Well, he's a looker! That's for sure. What's his name?”
“His name.” She paused a moment. “His name is
750 words. Thank you for reading :-)
This fiction was submitted for @theinkwell and the Prompt #15: Cats - 750 Words where we were challenged to limit our story about cats to 750 words. I thought it would be fun to leave it abruptly like that to emphasize the 750 word limit, and also to leave the reader to fill in the blank with their own name. I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing! :-)