By Bailey Morgan
The man was loading a gun, his gun that he had just bought that morning after visiting his wife.
She hated guns and he knew it, just as he knew that his wife was dead and visiting her grave wasn’t going to help him much. He had long ago given up on the idea that she listened to his apologies, his pleads for forgiveness. “You need not worry;” he said stroking the grass by her headstone. “We’ll be together, as we never were,” Looking over at the much smaller headstone where their child lay.
His wife had been skeptical about having children, but he had pushed for it and when the doctors had advised against it at her age, that too much could go wrong, he just smiled and pretended not to hear.
The man thought about it now as he loaded his new .22 and chastised himself for his foolishness, his utter disregard for the concerns of his doctor, friends, and his wife. Giving him responsibility for not one, but two new angels in heaven. The man scoffed at the thought of God and heaven, but even so if there was the slightest chance of joining his wife… the man snarled and put his now loaded gun in the back of his jeans as he saw many do on TV, and he began to prepare. He cleaned the dishes, gathered all the empty gin bottles and threw them away, and opened the windows to get rid of the foul odors left behind after nine months of not giving a damn.
The man continued till all was well and the house looked the same as it did when his wife had been the one to do the household chores. He was now ready, so he picked up the photo album from the coffee table and headed to the bedroom. As he sat down on the dusty bed– for he hadn’t entered since his wife had died– he thought about her and how there was no one else like his wife. Flipping through the glossy albums pages covered with pictures of landscapes, family gatherings, and yes, his beautiful wife.
She was strawberry-blond beauty with eyes like he’d never seen before, the left eye Hazel, the right sky blue. She always seemed to by dancing and swaying about, as though she was listening to something only she could hear. Then the man wondered if their child would have been as beautiful, would have had her strange eyes. As he reached behind him for the gun, the pages began to blur, and he realized he was crying. With one hand holding the gun to his temple, the other wiped the tears away. Then he noticed a small movement in the doorway.
He turned swiftly, gun raised in alarm towards the door way. It took him a second to register what he saw: a small, big belled cat staring at him, tail waving slowly, as if to say hello. But how did it get in here? Then he remembered: the window. He had left it open. The man, more angered than relieved, pushed the photo album off of his lap, trying to scare it away, falling off the bed in the process, the gun skidding under the dresser. The man groaned and crawled towards the gun, then slumped down; defeated and broken, he sobbed in earnest with tears he had left unshed for these nine months.
Slowly the man began to regain his control and quiet down enough to hear a raspy breath above his ear. It was the cat, tail still swaying, ears perked, hazel and blue eyes shiny with her reddish-blond paw atop his hand. The man didn’t know how long he lay there with this creature, nor how he found the strength to follow it into the kitchen. Setting down a bowl of milk for the cat (whom he saw was a she), he sat down and stared. He didn’t know if it was possible and he didn’t want to even think on it, lest he wake up for this has to be a dream.
So he just reached out and petted the cat’s scruffy neck, migrating slowly down to her belly. He stopped short. Then he began to laugh till he was just crying, then laughing, then both. For there was a reason this cat had such a big belly.