Flash fiction: Sheba Epilogue

Couldn’t resist it.

768px-Tabby_kitten_playing_with_lure

Hilda Scally put down her cup of tea and her head turned slowly, following the antics of the kitten as it chased an imaginary mouse behind her chair.

“Whose is it?” she asked.

Irene started. The idea that the little cat might belong to someone hadn’t crossed her mind.

“Nobody,” she said, defensively. “It just wandered in.”

The kitten made a grab for Hilda’s ankle and she swept her feet out of the way.

“It didn’t just drop out of the sky, though, did it?”

“I’ll leave a notice in the shop. If anybody’s lost a cat they can come and claim it.”

“I’ll bet it’s got a dozen brothers and sisters,” Hilda went on. “You’ll have ’em all traipsing in sooner or later.”

The kitten rolled on its back and looked at Irene upside down. She smiled. “Sheba used to do that when she was little.”

Hilda huffed. “A dog’s different. More intelligent. You can talk to a dog.”

Irene gave her a look. “Not like your Stan.”

Hilda huffed again and chuckled. “Let’s just say, I get more sensible conversation out of Blackie.”

“I’ve never had a cat,” Irene said. “It’ll be an experience.”

“You’ll have to get it spayed.”

Irene shrugged. “Time enough for that. We’ll see if somebody claims it first.”

She cleared the tea things away and got a piece of paper and a biro out of the drawer. Stripy kitten found Nelson Street, she wrote, and added her phone number at the bottom. She looked at the paper wondering what it would feel like if the phone went and it was someone who’d lost a cat. She knew. She felt it already, the slow, tearing pain of loss. She sighed and the sigh came out as a sob. Suddenly aware that she could no longer hear the skitter and patter of paws, claws and balls of tin foil, she pushed back the chair in a panic. She looked under the table and the dresser, behind the coats in the hall, inside the corner cupboard. Her breath was short, her heart pounding when she found the kitten in the bedroom, curled up asleep in Sheba’s basket.

Irene went back into the kitchen and tore up the notice.

“You’re my Sheba now,” she whispered. “Don’t let anybody tell you different.”

 

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.

21 thoughts on “Flash fiction: Sheba Epilogue”

  1. I am afraid I don’t get… cats. I know, *gasp, horror* I am more akin to dogs. Your vignette is nicely written and a good read… I subsituted your cat for a dog in my reading. Sorry, I had to come clean.

    1. I have both and I’d have loads of both if I could. Cats and dogs are different, and I agree that dogs are more intelligent and closer to humans than cats are. But cats have a lunatic streak that makes them irresistible as far as I’m concerned.

      1. I have never had a cat, i could never hurt a cat, or any animal. But I don’t get the memes ,the films, the packets of buscits full of kittens . But I like your writing 😇

  2. Great story. Losing a beloved pet is very difficult. I’m glad your narrator had the kitten to help her get over Sheba.

      1. Cats really helped my Grandma though, she had to leave her one cat with her daughter when she moved to a senior’s lodge. My Baba also had my Uncle’s dog in her seventies, gave her something to do to take care of.

      2. It’s the same process. Even if the bond isn’t the same as with a child, when your children are grown, caring for a dog or a cat is invested with the same meaning.

  3. I grew up with cats. We lived in the country and one time, we had 13. Nobody ‘owns’ them, they just come and stay with you. I had a dog for 14 years. His name was Rupert, because he looked like the cartoon bear of the same name. I’ve never had a pet, since. I couldn’t replace him. I hope you and Sheba have a good life together.

    1. We have a constant stream of cats. They come and go. The only permanent fixtures are the one who’s too fat and lazy to be bothered trying out anywhere else, and the handicapped one that isn’t allowed out. I don’t even want to think about what will happen when Finbar dies. You can’t ‘replace’ a friend.

      1. We had a big garden and all our cats had their own favourite spots where the others could visit, but never dare linger, unless invited. Rupert, my old dog, always sat under my desk while I was writing and sometimes I find myself adjusting the position of my feet, unconsciously.

      2. You’ll probably do that forever. We get used to stepping over sleeping dogs, not sitting in a particular chair, looking in the laundry basket before putting anything in it. When the cat or dog moves on, they still fill their old space.

  4. As a man who has fallen in love with (by accident) both a dog and a cat, and had to have said goodbye to them, this goes to the heart. So glad you told me about the epilogue.

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