Before I begin, know that this is not about Tristin, but begins with him.
The night before I called my mother to inform her that I had decided to send Tristin back to her. I felt very good about the decision. It felt logical and adult.
I have been feeling logical and adult lately, which is always a mistake. Be careful of the world when you start feeling logical and adult.
It started when someone offered me a puppy. Well, actually, someone offered Katherine a puppy. She tried desperately to find a way to keep it, holding the soft yellow baby to her shoulder, calling her roommate, but to no avail. She handed the puppy back. I didn’t, don’t, want a puppy. But, I realized, I want a dog. I have a cat, true, but I have always had a cat. The dogs have always been my mother’s.
I wanted a dog, which I would have to care for, look after, speak to. After all the difficult decisions, standing in front of a room of students, having my work reviewed by peers and professionals, speaking unabashed to writers whose work I had read and respected, this realization was the first to make me feel, well, old.
Not old in that, oh god I’ve lived for forever and ever old. That, oh I understand the world a little more-old.
What’s more, the decision to purchase or procure one was mine alone. I would care for it, name it, feed it, be responsible for its life and its death. Who could tell me I couldn’t have a dog? I decided I didn’t need one just now, but I held onto that strange feeling. I thought I’d take it out of my pocket and look at it more closely when I had a spare moment. Maybe during office hours.
I woke up 45 minutes after my alarm this morning and rushed to leave. Claudette was playing with the strays outside. I could hear her paws against the window panes. Clack! Clack! She had recently been making friends with them, but would look up at me with wide eyes if I caught her at it. I felt like a parent walking in on their teenager with a girl. I didn’t mind. At least I knew they were keeping warm and well fed in this weather. I swallowed a Cliff bar and left.
On the sidewalk a black bag was stuck to the curb, but when I walked by it was actually a cat, a black and white tuxedo and it was dead. It was on its back. Its eyes were half open. Between its paws was a sticky note that started, “I’m sorry I hit your cat.” But I couldn’t read the rest. It was Xena.
I tried to explain this to my colleagues smoking outside. “I don’t know,” I said, “Why it won’t leave me alone. She wasn’t even my goddam cat.”
“Well, you named her.” Someone said.
That was probably it. When I walked home she was gone. Someone took her away with her useless letter. I hope it made the driver feel a little better. She was no one’s cat.
But I'll miss her.