• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 01


They don’t always notice, but I am there. I listen to their silences. Right now, their silence is a sad one; it’s sad because they know their mother is going to die. They know because they saw me lying on her bed, lying on her belly, on top of the duvet. Quite rightly, they thought it must be a sign: The cat’s always shunned her. She’s never tolerated the cat.

What they didn’t stop to wonder was, how did I know? It’s no secret, I’ll tell you, though you won’t understand: I knew by her silence, the way she stopped sighing and fussing, the way she stopped fluttering and twitching. Even more than a silence: a stillness, a calm.

So I sat with her, and my silence said to hers: I am here. I hear you. And she was glad for me then. Her young ones, they love her, but they don’t know how to listen to silence. Their kind rarely do: they’re too restless, they flutter like birds, they twitch like mice. They spend most of their time living in noise.

There were times she had me right there in the noise, crying and hissing and bellyaching: when she drowned my kittens, when she chased me from the kitchen with her broom. But in the end, it all comes down to this. In the end, all that matters is the sharing of silence.

Her young ones, too, will need me soon, when she’s gone, when the silence changes again. Not at first, no: first comes the noise, the anger, the keening and wailing and tearing of hair. But then, when they quieten, when they’re empty of tears, or perhaps still sobbing softly, they’ll want me then. And I’ll go and sit with them then, and though they won’t know, though they might think it’s my warmth, or my purring, or the softness of my fur, what will comfort them is having someone listen to their silence, saying to it, silently: I am here. I hear you.