Katrina was sulking. Oliver was yet to notice, so she pushed her lips into a more pronounced pout as she went about her weekend chores.
Running the vacuum over the carpet, she noticed scratch marks on the wooden legs of the dining table.
‘Bloody cat,’ she muttered under her breath and dragged the vacuum nozzle harder across the floor.
She’d grown up in a house with dogs. Oliver was from a cat-loving family. She couldn’t stand them. Creepy eyes, continually licking themselves clean—after pooping too! And it’s just weird how they don’t need attention from humans. Oh sure, they’re cute when they’re kittens. Who doesn’t love a litter of tiny newborn kitties?
But Presley. Well, Presley was a horrible cat. Ugly of face, of markings and of personality. She hoped to find him now, while vacuuming, just to give him a nudge, a fright to remind him she’s the boss here, not him.
Her preference in her own home was no animals, and for a while she and Oliver lived happily, sans pets. But once they had children, Oliver insisted cats make great companions for youngsters.
Now, their four offspring were grown with lives of their own. And not one of them offered to take Presley.
‘Oliver!’ she yelled. Must be in his study. ‘Where’s the stupid cat?’
Oh well, she’d find Presley herself, without Oliver’s help. In the hallway, she found a large clump of cat fur, so she pulled the Dyson and sucked it up. As she passed her bedroom she spied Presley, sitting luxuriously on her freshly made bed. The cat’s arse was on her new cushion.
‘Aaargggh!’ she yelped. Presley jumped and bounded off the bed, leaving the doona cover crumpled and a cat-shaped dent in the cushion.
‘Oliver! Come and get your stupid kitty cat, before I suck it up for good.’ As she uttered the words, she pressed her foot on the off button and lowered the handle to the ground. She was no cat killer.
The phone rang; its trill piercing the otherwise silent home.
‘Katrina and Oliver’s residence, Katrina speaking.’ It was the way she answered the phone for decades. Still came by rote, every time.
‘Mum, it’s me,’ Harriet, their youngest. The one most likely to have taken Presley when she moved out. Katrina remembered how devastated she felt when Harriet said she didn’t want the cat. Reminded her too much of her dad, she’d said.
Harriet cut her off. ‘Mum, Dad’s been gone for nearly a year now. I think you need to drop his name from your telephone greeting.’ Katrina heard her daughter sniff.
She felt herself unravel. She was fine while she could pretend, but as soon as her children showed their grief, Katrina lost it as well.
‘Don’t cry, dear. Be strong,’ Katrina’s voice wavered. ‘He’s still with us in spirit. At least, that’s what I like to think. Helps me get through my days.’
And Presley rubbed against Katrina’s legs.