• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 01

Your mother misses you already

Your mother gets you a cat because you’re eleven, just about the right time to learn to take care of something. The two goldfish you got catching plastic ducks at the fairground and flushed down the toilet two months later don’t count. Everyone knows fairground fish are trapped in plastic bags way too long; if anyone’s to blame, it’s her for letting you take them home.

Your mother gets you a cat because her coworker Annie’s big brown tabby keeps getting pregnant, and before giving kittens away to people she doesn’t like, she’d rather try once again with those who have already said no. Including your mother, who has already said no three times.

Your mother gets you a cat because you’re an only child, and perhaps everyone who says you need company has a point. So what if it’s not a baby brother? You were always the one asking for a pet.

Your mother gets you a cat because it gets boring in this house, where two people could live without crossing paths a whole day, but three used to feel like a crowd. Depends on who the third person is, she supposes. Her experience so far hasn’t been the best, she admits. A cat will take up a fraction of the space, won’t spend entire days parked in front of the TV, and won’t get into arguments when there’s not enough beer in the fridge. A cat will do just fine.

Your mother gets you a cat because you seem to understand the ground rules: not allowed on beds and leather sofas; no human food; neutered as soon as she's old enough. You promise you’ll fill bowls three times a day without fail, empty litter boxes, clean up vomit from stairs and carpets. When you say it, you believe every word. Your mother doesn’t, really, but she’d never let you or another living being down.


Your mother misses you already

Your mother gets you a cat because a day will come when she’s older, and you’re older, and the cat no longer cares much about catching strings and chasing foil balls. You will live on your own, some miles away, with people she hopes won’t give you drugs or break your heart. You will leave heaps of clothes behind you at the end of each visit back home, and pick them up clean and pressed the next weekend. Before scooping them up and throwing them in the washer, your mother will sit in your old bedroom, taking in old posters, books you’ve consumed the spines of, albums she got too used to hearing you play. The cat will sneak in, jump on the bed, and curl up on the sweater at the top of the pile. Your mother will bury her nose in the cat’s warm belly, like you used to, like she swore she never would. She will feel many things, but not alone.