“You are trying to read the morning newspaper when your cat begins pawing at your leg. You brush it away, but it jumps on the table and begins meowing. Finally, the cat speaks. What does she say? Write this scene and what she is trying to tell you.”
-Writer’s Digest Creative Writing Prompt: Garfield in Real Life
It’s 3:34 am. Leave it to me to wake up at the most useless time of night. The nightmare was too vivid, but that’s what I get for having open curtains. Moonlight always gives me nightmares.
I’m in the kitchen by 8:00 for breakfast. My parents should be there drinking coffee, but they and their cars are gone. There’s no note, just some newspapers on the table. The family cat, graced with unlimited table privileges, is unusually needy. I pet her, but there’s something strange behind her eyes, like she wants me to know something.
By 9:30, I’m nervous. Mom should have left for work by now, but her briefcase is still by her desk. I look for my cell phone again. I thought I saw it out of the corner of my eye a few times, but it’s nowhere to be found.
I walk to a neighboring house to use their phone, but no one is home. There’s a warm autumn rain; it feels like a shower.
I keep walking but see no one, and no cars either. There are no birds or frogs by the pond. A dragonfly lands on my shoulder and stares into my eyes; there’s some creepy intelligence there.
Down a side street, I see something moving; it’s a cat, pure black, with stormy blue eyes. It runs away, then stops to look back; I follow it to a little yellow building. The cat looks to me, knowingly, and walks to the door, pawing it.
Inside, under dim lighting, are peach walls, fake plants, picture boards, and a huddle of faceless people dressed in black. Mountains of flowers surround the centerpiece of the morbid affair.
The cat jumps on top of this red-and-chrome coffin; none of the faceless people seem to notice or care.
I feel drunk; my limbs move but it’s not me doing it. I walk forward, staring into the storming sea of the cat’s eyes, until I stand before the spectacle. His eyes look down, and mine are forced to follow.
It’s a girl… no. Not a girl anymore: now, she’s just a mass of preserved meat.
The cat meows, and I shush it. It was being rude, after all.
“Don’t shush me, little girl!”
I am dumbstruck, and look around to find the voice’s source. “Who…”
The cat replies. “Before you ask me ‘who,’ perhaps you should ask ‘what the hell is going on?”
“She’s me, I know, but this is just a nightmare.”
“The first step is acceptance,” he says sadly. “You remember it, don’t you: the crash?” Waves dance in his eyes.
Metal. Fire. Pain. Yes, I remember. “But that was a dream.”
The seas in his eyes churn even more than before, and turn darker. “It wasn’t.”
I start to cry. “I-impossible! I can’t be-”
He scoffs. “‘It can never happen to me!’ It did, love. Look around you.”
I do, and the room spins. Something pulling for me to see, but it’s fighting against something desperately trying to blind me. But I feel a weight on my shoulder, and there the cat is perched. He stabilizes me, calms me, and I see.
It is my family gathered. My parents and siblings and friends.
I see the truth, and I weep for it.