A short story for cat lovers

After posting the photo of our cat, I remembered a very short story I wrote back in 1995, so I dug it out. It’s for all cat lovers.

CATS’ EYES

She lay curled around her kittens, purring deep in her throat as their paws kneaded her belly.

When she saw him her lips drew back in a silent hiss, showing bright sharp teeth and a perfect pink mouth, but her feral lifestyle was not suited to her breeding, and her long coat was matted. Diana would have been distressed to see her cat now.

He pushed away the memory of Diana lying at the foot of the sharp stone staircase where he crouched, holding her broken body in his arms, weeping into her hair, clutching her to him so tightly that the paramedics had to forcibly break his hold.

“She tripped on the cat. Please,” he whimpered, “please make her be all right. Please don’t let her die.”

“She’d going to be OK.  As soon as we get her to hospital she’ll be fine,” they said.

For the two days that she lay unconscious while the surgeons removed fragments of skull embedded in her brain, he sat in the waiting room reading the same article repeatedly, without seeing a word.

On the third day Diana died, and at her funeral friends and family offered meaningless words of comfort as they left the graveside where her faithless body lay beneath a quilt of flowers.

Since then, for the last four months, day and night, wherever he looked the cat was staring back at him, with yellow-green unblinking eyes and bared teeth, but she evaded every attempt to capture her.

Now she was trapped behind the garden shed with her kittens, vulnerable, unable to move.

He relished the fear in her eyes. One by one he took her kittens and dropped them into a plastic bag, heedless of her frenzied claws and teeth and howls and screeches.

“Say ‘Bye-bye, Mummy,'” he laughed, swinging the bag.  “First babies are going for a swim, then I’ll be back for Mummy.”

Across the road the pond lay still and dark and black, shrouded in the damp fog of the autumn evening.

From behind him the cat’s cries reached a crescendo. Feeble mews replied from the bag.

As he stepped into the road something glistening caught his eye, and he hesitated for a moment.

His mind flashed back to the hospital waiting room, to the article he had read uncomprehendingly so many times, and strangely he could now remember every word.  It was the story of Percy Shaw OBE, the Yorkshireman who had invented the cat’s eyes, the pads embedded into roads to reflect vehicle lights, as they were doing now.

The dancing reflections held him transfixed with the same terrible malevolence the cat had done when he pushed Diana off balance at the top of the staircase. Vaguely he was aware of another desperate screech, and then silence.

What was left of his body lay 40 ft away, a shapeless pile of rags staining crimson in the lights of the juggernaut. An empty plastic bag rustled, caught on a bush.

Behind the garden shed the cat nuzzled her babies, and curling herself around them slept, purring contentedly.

Cat’s eyes

© Susie Kelly 1995

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