• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 08


She taped up the last box as the shadows extended further into the living room, then perched on it. The sun was having a final bow before it set; she recognised that feeling and sympathised.

Ros had moved here 35 years ago as a newlywed, with youthful naivety and a head full of energetic sparks. A house with ‘potential’ that they could ‘put their own stamp on’ the estate agent had said, which sounded great at the time. But hindsight had taught Ros their language. The house was fraught with holes, shortcuts and rot; a money sink with no plug. She emptied the last of the Chardonnay into her Lion King mug and took a slug.

She stared at the canvases leaning on the wall, remnants of their fractured lives together that felt like a lifetime ago; now, she was done. Done with work and the false image that she was a granite-sculpted professional. Done with the catty wives that 'the husband' insisted she befriend. Done with wearing ridiculous costumes and changing her fur to suit other people. And she was done with men.

The house had come to represent her marriage to Ros. Except she had spent nearly 20 years looking for a plug for her marriage, trying all sorts of square ones to try in the round hole. About 6 months ago, she had learnt about 'the husband’s' affair with a young tabby from his office. She had shed many tears and drunk too much, but was glad to leave him with the scratch marks to remind him of her heartbreak. Now she was rebuilding her foundations.



She began mindfulness.  Although she knew the wives gossiped about her, she had found solace in solitude. She sat alone on benches, in the woods and on the green, and closed her eyes. She didn’t care who saw her, wanted the wives to see her. To see that she was free. To see that she had thrown off her collar, could no longer be tracked by the ring of her bell or her chip.

This was the last step, Ros thought, it has to be done. She removed the lighter from her pocket and flicked back the cap. She carefully took the flickering flame to the corner of the canvas and waited for it to spread. She began her familiar incantations, to cough out the last of her hairball self-doubt: 'I am independent. I am self-sufficient. I am enough. I am a cat.'