Companion

When Harris loses his soon-to-be fiance and the love of his life, it seems that he cannot go on. But as the grief begins to ebb away, it is replaced with feelings of suspicion and exasperation as an affectionate feline enters his life like a ghost and won't leave his side.

How could life go on without her?

It was a question that left Harris with no peace.

Ever since she had been torn from his life and deprived of her own life, Harris had been at the end of everything he had ever known. Because hadn't she been everything?

The psychiatrist seemed not to think so. He seemed to think she could be left behind, forgotten almost. His plan was to talk Harris through the recovering stages of his grief so he could get on with his pointless life. But Harris could not leave this undying moment of agony.

Every thought weighed heavy with memories of her smiling face, every moment that could hold any beauty was sadly strewn and lost. Harris could not leave her be. Her presence sat beside him even now as he rested in the park, watching the children playing between the trees. Her presence was there and it was lost and searching.

It continually asked Harris, "What happened? Where did our lives go?"

But Harris couldn't reply. He couldn't say the words. "You're dead."

Tears silently streamed down his face as he watched the children, their voices gleeful and carefree as they enjoyed the moment with nothing but beautiful dreams for the future. They had it all, and yet they lived as if completely unafraid of losing it.

Harris took a breath. He best be going home now. Maybe he could catch up on some missing sleep. Maybe he could gather the courage to call his boss. Maybe he could cut all ties to his old life in the hopes that the world would understand his situation and give him room to grieve for eternity.

She had been killed only two days ago. Harris didn't know it now, couldn't comprehend it now, but the grief would begin to subside, and he would begin to live again.

A few weeks later found him unemployed, living off his friends' charity, and still visiting the same psychiatrist. He was better off now. Instead of being passionately disturbed, he was now mild and meek and nearly emotionless. He passed the time by sketching his imagination upon table-sized pieces of parchment. He had created four 'masterpieces' as his psychiatrist cheerily described them. But he didn't care so much for the finished product, giving them all to the psychiatrist though the man declined again and again. Harris had taken to sliding them under his door.

And he had just done that now, and was on his way home, when he spotted a quiver of motion in the weeds that fringed the park. He paused to wonder at what small furry animal was hidden there, and then a cat hopped gracefully from the grasses with a mouse dangling from its mouth.

The cat was speckled orange and brown and it gave Harris a careful look before stooping its head to drop the mouse lightly in the grasses beside the curb.

The mouse was unharmed and it ran from the scene with a scurry. The cat paid no attention to it. This was a strictly catch and release operation.

Harris stopped to pet the cat, and was pleasantly surprised by her friendliness. The cat rubbed her head against Harris's outstretched hand and began a soft purr.

But then a distant thunder brought Harris back to the day, and he realized he had yet to buy ingredients for his supper. So, leaving the cat, he continued on to his vehicle. But when he rounded the first corner, he caught a motion in the corner of his eye. He stopped and turned his head. It took a while to spot the cat in her camouflage, but sure enough, the cat was following him. He smiled and shook his head, then continuing his walk.

But he only traveled a few more paces before glancing back over his shoulder. As soon as he'd looked, the cat froze. He turned as if to walk again, but quickly stopped and spun around. Ah ha! He'd caught the cat in motion, and she knew it!

He smiled broader for the first time in weeks, and then watched as the cat stopped her silly stalking and ran to catch up. He stooped down and rubbed behind her ear, softly whispering, "I cannot take you home with me..."

But the cat seemed right at home already, and had resumed her purring.

Harris finally left her and moved to his vehicle. The cat walked right up to his jeep and began to rub her head affectionately against the front tire. Harris laughed. He watched in wonderment as the cat continued to give her love to the vehicle as if she would never tire. But soon enough, Harris picked up the cat, moved her out of the way, and climbed tiredly into his vehicle.

Then he drove to the supermarket where he purchased a chicken breast, a zucchini, and some garlic.

When he walked out into the parking lot with his purchase, the cat was waiting for him on the curb.

Harris stopped dead, his eyes blinking in surprised disbelief, and his arm swinging limply with the grocery bag. Was that the same cat? He gave it a careful look and then walked hurriedly past. The cat followed.

By the time he had reached his vehicle, he was beginning to grow afraid. Was he losing it? Was he imagining a cat that followed him everywhere? He was certainly going to mention the cat to his psychiatrist.

He hopped into his vehicle and drove hastily away. He got home and was greeted by the familiar house that he so desperately tried to share some life with. Everything continued to speak of her, but he had learned to be deaf. The tea he was making: she had bought it for him last month. The pan he used to fry the zucchini, she had used the pan a countless number of times. They had cooked pancakes in it together, adding bananas and grapes and whatever random fruit they could find. They had laughed and fooled around, she had flicked a spoonful of yogurt at him.

Harris quietly fixed his meal, his mind elsewhere. Maybe he could disappear into a simple, meaningless t.v. show tonight. Or maybe he'd gather the energy to draw. His drawings were beginning to show more beauty and less pain. That was a good thing.

By the time Harris was prepared for bed, he had completely forgotten about the cat. And then he spotted her sitting on the porch, staring in at him. He dropped the tea he was holding and thought nothing of the mess. He approached the door, his heart beating fast.

His hands shook as he fiddled with the lock, and almost didn't cooperate at all as he opened the door. Then he stepped out onto the porch. The cat merely looked at him.

Quivering in the growing cold beneath the stormy skies, he approached the cat with a few uneasy steps. She looked up at him with big eyes. He glared with sudden anger.

"Go away!" he cried, taking a single stomp toward it. The cat looked hurt and twitched its head, startled by his anger. But it remained where it was. "I said, go away!" Harris repeated, moving forward and waving his arms. "Stop following me! Get off my porch!"

The cat retreated a few steps, and this gave Harris a bout of energy. So now he chased the cat, stomping his feet and waving his shaking arms. "Scram!" he cried. His voice trembled terribly.

Then he went back inside, stepped over the mess of tea and shattered china, and went straight to bed. His dreams were no refuge.

And in the morning, he awoke to the sound of purring.

The End

18 comments about this story Feed