Cool, January, morning light illuminated a small kitchen table and a woman sitting with her hot tea playfully chatting with a white and gray calico cat. Such a delicate, pale white settled on the two of them in an otherwise unlit kitchen.
“No, Toonces, I don’t think I really like him at all…silly cat. I’m glad he’s dating someone now. I really just think he liked to ogle me more than anything, and who needs that?”
She stroked her silky fur and tilted her head as if trying to interpret a response.
“Oh, Toonces! You naughty boy, well I suppose I could dress a little more modestly at work, but you’re right, I guess I liked the attention. At least it was something.”
The corners of her mouth wilted on her otherwise perky face as she looked out of the small kitchen window into the somber winter sky-scape.
“No sweet boy, I just don’t know if I can bear another day at Henri feeling like this, ” she breathed, eyes growing distant and dull. As if to comfort her, the cat gingerly stepped off his chair and over to Marie’s lap and began to purr.
“Oh, Toonces, I don’t know what I would do without you. Without Mother, I’m afraid no one would even know I exist if it weren’t for you.” She gave the cat a grateful scratch on the top of her head and smiled, if only a little.
With abrupt sharpness, Marie’s tone changed. She spoke sternly and defensively to the unsuspecting cat, “And just what are you suggesting, Toonces?” She picked her up and dropped down hard on the aged linoleum.
“Mother is gone, and there’s nothing you or I can do to change that! She’s gone…” she said, her voice trailing, speaking as much to the empty room and the cold sky.
Her mind settled on the image of an ailing women in a hospital bed, reaching out to her in despair and confusion.
A glimmer of knowing crossed her eyes, and for a moment, her pretty, porcelain face was as cold and pail as the January light. But with a sip of tea and a deep breath her face lit up once again, just as quickly as it had faded just seconds before.
She pulled the green cardigan over her slender shoulders and stood up. “I’m so sorry, Toonces, I know you’re just concerned about me. Forgive me?”
She stooped down and scooped up the cat into her arms, nuzzled her nose into the face of a forgiving feline.
“Off to work!”