They had pulled her this way and that all through the morning, and now she was tired. Tired of all the murmurs of encouragement, tired of the false optimism and the sad, secret looks they shared as they withdrew from the bedside. What did bedsores matter, if you could feel nothing?
Tomorrow, they were going to bring a ventilator… to help her to breathe more easily, they said. She had stared at them helplessly, willing them to understand that she would prefer not to breathe at all. Why would they not leave her alone, she wondered. What had she ever done to them that they wanted to prolong her suffering in this way?
A soft thud at the window broke her reverie, and she swiveled her eyes to see what she had heard. A black cat was sitting outside on the window ledge, surveying her with interest as he casually passed his right paw up and over his ear and back across his cheek to his perfect pink mouth. The sunlight shimmered on his glossy black fur while he carefully groomed himself, pausing every now and then to gaze inscrutably at her as she lay helpless on the bed.
She’d always loved cats.
After a few minutes of delicate grooming, he cautiously stepped through the open window and settled down on the windowsill inside the room, folding his front legs into two neat curves beneath his sleek chest, never taking his huge yellow eyes off her.
Unable to move any part of her body since the accident, her eyes soon ached from the strain of peering sideways at him. She closed them wearily. Outside, the sound of a lawnmower in some distant garden rose and fell as it perambulated over a soft green lawn, and her mind drifted, conscious of the occasional humming of wasps hovering by the open window as they explored the rustic brickwork. The drugs she had been given at midday began to take effect and she drifted, thankfully, into a temporary oblivion.
A movement on the bed disturbed her, and waking, she realized the cat had leapt from the windowsill and was now preparing to curl up on her hand, which lay helplessly on the quilt. She sensed, but could not feel, the softness of his fur as he settled down, and the rhythmic movements of his head as he groomed his furry chest. How she wished that she could run her slender fingers through his soft fur.
She had always loved cats.
Their eyes met. The cat understood. He regarded her closely for a moment, inclined his head gracefully and then rose to his feet, padding cautiously up the bed until, climbing onto her chest, he stood gazing down into her frozen face. What was it they had told her? Ah, yes, that was it. She remembered now: once for yes, twice for no.
She blinked once.
So, very softly, he moved forward, and lowering his black, furry belly over her nose and mouth, he settled down. A gentle purring began to resonate through the room, as, drooling copiously, the cat began rhythmically kneading and shredding her unfeeling scalp.
Thankfully she let the blackness enfold her.
She’d always loved cats.
- Published September 2010 by microhorror.com
- Copyright Sandra Crook, 2010