Microfiction: Ginger

I wrote this short piece in response to something I read on Sacha Black’s blog, a sort of mass movement to write about forgiveness. Forgiveness is not an easy or straightforward concept; it sometimes changes between the giving and the accepting. It isn’t an automatic solution to grief either, as I tried to show in this story.

(please imagine the image of the dead ginger cat that I have but decided not to post).


Ginger was dead. Betty wasn’t allowed to touch the broken body. She wanted to wipe away the blood smears but she was afraid of hurting the cat even more. Her father had scraped him onto an old towel and they were going to bury him in the garden. Betty watched as her father dug the hole, but more than her father, she watched the towel and the paw sticking out with the delicate pink pads. They looked so perfect and alive. She crouched down and reached out a finger to touch them, one after the other. Still soft and a bit spongy. But cold.

Mr Ritchie across the road had run over Ginger while he was backing out of his garage. He’d said sorry. He’d gone now, off to the supermarket as if nothing had happened. But he’d said sorry. Betty ought to have forgiven him because that’s what you did when people said they were sorry. But if he was sorry, why didn’t he cry like she had done? Why had he gone off to Tesco thinking about cornflakes and soap powder?

She must have been glowering because her father stopped digging and came over to give her a hug.

“It wasn’t his fault, you know. He just didn’t see Ginger in the driveway. He was very sorry about it.”

Betty said nothing. Mr Ritchie was sorry, but not sorry enough. People who are sorry enough don’t do the things that would make them sorry. She looked at the towel and the very slight hump that the squashed cat made inside it. She looked at the beautiful pink pads and she sobbed. Mr Ritchie was sorry. But Ginger was still dead.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

34 thoughts on “Microfiction: Ginger”

  1. Oh that’s beautiful, Jane! But I’m sure Mr Ritchie will still go to heaven when he repents on his deathbed for all the bad things he’s done. Sounds like he’s the type to have a long list. RIP Ginger.

    1. According to the rules, you’re right. As long as he’s a Catholic and has access to a priest, can’t speak for how the others do it. One reason why 1) heaven doesn’t exist 2) if it did I wouldn’t want to go to such a screwed up hypocritical place FOREVER!

      1. Don’t you find it funny how in recent years as we’ve got more ‘animal conscious’ we’ve invented the idea of a rainbow bridge so that animals can go to animal heaven? Why the segregation? Personally, I don’t see the attraction of ‘heaven’ and have no desire to go there, but it seems a bit mean to credit animals with an afterlife, but a second class one.

      2. I’ve never got the rainbow bridge idea for pets. Originally, didn’t only humans have souls? I mean, I know that wasn’t the really ancient way of thinking. Heaven seems like another version of the Garden of Eden, to me. And all of that reminds me of tales of the Celtic Otherworld. Its all very crazy-mixed up. I cant say the Christian notion of heaven fills me with delight, but I wouldn’t mind going to Manannán’s land when I die…

      3. My theory is that the Christian idea of heaven is trying to wean people off the older idea which was like the Celtic one—just the same as the living world but with enough food, loads of fun, loads of sex, horses that could fly, magic, good weather etc etc. They wanted people to think that wanting all those normal kind of things was wrong, slightly dirty, sensual, and they should only want spiritual, inhuman sorts of things like praising God and…praising God. Boring!

      4. It’s quite common for people to think their cat comes back to say hello from the other side. I’d be less keen on having ancient Egyptians stomping through my bedroom at night…


  2. Fascinating. Rainbows bridges. I assumed that would be for gay dissenters to cross but who knew! Personally I’m all for something that stops me coming back a la the Buddhist idea of reincarnation. I mean, you’d think say coming back as a dog might be ok but then you think how often they smell anuses and you’d have to reconsider. Nope, a howling void will do me just as long as the howling isn’t my MIL. Sorry Jane I should have said this upfront : this is an ace story…

  3. Poor kitty. Poor girlie. Poor bloke that ran over poor kitty. Poor daddy having to deal with the remains AND poor girlies sorrow. Forgiveness, they tell me is divine … in my experience it takes a long while to get to the point when you can. And it’s usually when one’s own grief is dissipating. When the image of the soft pink pads sticking out from the towel can be smiled at rather than wringing out more tears. Loved it.

    1. I think you nailed it there. Forgiveness is usually given when it means less. It takes a rare breed to forgive when the wound is still raw, and I have to ask myself, why would you? Dislike, hatred even, judgement, they’re all human and just as healthy as forgiveness. Or am I missing the point?


      1. Not missing the point at all – in fact I think the whole of humanity would be a lot healthier if it actually accepted that what are branded negative emotions are part of the human condition. Instead of aspiring to some sort of unattainable fabricated perfection that masquerades as a deity. It’s all bunkum and was invented as a mechanism to control the masses. I say let loose the real spirit of humanity, stop trying to constrict it and deny it and let’s see if we might just be a little more naturally compatable with the world around us.

  4. Corrrrrrr this one cut deep. It flung me back to my childhood and saying goodbye to my best friend – Tibs who would sit on my shoulder ALL the time, like a parrot and she used to suckle my jumpers or ear!! I had to try hard not to cry at the end of this! you capture her voice and mindset SO well.

    1. I’m glad it got to you, Sacha. My own memories have been overlaid with the reactions of my children when our first cat died, and the solemn way they watched him being buried, and the youngest suddenly bursting into tears because he wouldn’t be able to get out of the hole if we filled it in…

      1. shhhhhh bless their hearts. I think I probably had a similar reaction. It really scarred me – that first death that you really understand it means they aren’t coming back. Its horrid. but this is beautifully written which is why it took me right back there.

      2. When husband’s mother died, ours were only little and I don’t think any of them knew what was going on. The second one, the big mouth, who was three and a half, pushed her way up to the grave leaned over and stared at the coffin for a bit. She came back to us and asked in a very loud voice, ‘When are they going to let her out?’ I couldn’t help smiling.


      3. Hahaha that’s brilliant! It’s moments like that, at times which are so sad that children really make you feel better they have a knack of saying just the right thing. Our boy is just starting to do it!! 😍😂

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