She’s still alive but just barely. I almost walked right past her but saw the steam rising above the snow. She tried not to move when she saw me, even stopped breathing. But I pounced on her nevertheless. I didn’t need to. She would have been dead in a few minutes anyhow. But I wanted to taste the warm blood as I pulled the flesh away from the bones. I licked the blood off my claws, cleaned my whiskers, then gnawed on the bones of the lovely sparrow snack.
The door opens and he strides in. Always, like a benevolent king.
“Just lentils,” I say apologetically, as he walks past.
I hear the door of his room close. A few minutes later he comes out.
“Sistah Joan…,” he steps into the doorway softly.
“Lentils?,” I offer.
I choose the ceramic bowl, with the glaze dripping azure and Garden-of-the-Gods red.
He takes it with two hands. He closes his eyes, and with his nose over the bowl, takes in the full essence with a deep breath. Then another.
“Ah, bless… .” He shakes his head, “Lentils, Sistah Joan!”
My feet are suddenly in agony. The floor is freezing this morning, even through my thick socks. I hop on the kitchen chair with my sweatshirt on, and yours too. I pull my knees to my chest and wiggle my toes. You bring me a steaming cup of tea with milk.
“No. Well yes, just you.” It’s an old pun, but we smile anyhow.
Holding onto our cups of tea, inhaling the steam, sitting next to each other. My toes are happy. And so are we.
It’s 9:30 pm. I’m the only other person in the building, having just finished the late class. You’re sitting there, working away.
“Have a nice night,” we say overlapping.
I wave and walk out the door. It takes all my strength to do that.
Every muscle is straining to push your rolling chair back, grab you by the shoulders and shake you. “Go home! Go home! Go home, you idiot! You have two little ones at home! What are you, frickin’ insane?!”
“See you tomorrow,” I hear her call.
“Bye,” I race down the five flights of stairs, holding back the tears.
As the clock struck midnight, she blearily came to. She sensed a warm liquid oozing out the side of her mouth. The single lamp was still on, and the old house creaked in the wind. She itched her green craggy nose, and smoothed her black dress as she tried to remember what had happened. She reached to adjust the strap of her pointy hat, and noticed the pieces she’d gathered earlier so carefully, were now strewn across the floor. A black cat, hissed and flashed out of the room. The old woman began to hiss too. The hiss became a chuckle then a loud laughter that rang around the rooms of the decrepit house. She noticed the orange plastic pumpkin laying askew, and there was nothing but silence. She wiped the drool of sleep off her face, and scolded herself aloud, “Durn it Gertrude McLaughlin! You slept through Halloween! Smoky! Why didn’t you wake me up!”
I love the idea that, like the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, suction cups are magical. It hits hardest when I’m organizing a rented apartment and afraid to screw something up. Shopping for small baskets, racks and any storage solution…that’s when suction cups tempt me. Suddenly, I’m scheming to stick something on any surface that’s flat and smooth: the shower, the kitchen backsplash, the side of the refrigerator. Even the indoor/outdoor thermometer is now a necessity. I lick them, I stick them. They slide, pop, and drop off. They never work. But somehow, I still believe in suction cups.
I was waiting for the taxi outside my apartment. I’d packed my lunch and felt ready. Neat and tidy as a teacher must be. My lesson plans were swimming in my head, when she I noticed her. Pushing the modified stroller, she more ambled, than hobbled up the road toward me. Her wet clean clothes were heaped in her dinged metal washpan. Her breasts swung gently under her checked cotton blouse. I smiled at her. But the deep shade of her wide-brimmed hat made it impossible to see if she smiled back, or even saw me.