Friday, January 30, 2009

Left Alone

(The Search Engine Fiction prompt for this week is Empty Room)

The abandoned shed had the sharp scent of cat urine. Empty, save the absent cat and the two pigeons that swooped out the glass-less window when she entered. She spotted a nest in the corner and regretted having disturbed them; she hoped it didn’t have eggs. She was only borrowing their sanctuary, they’d be back. She hoped the cat would return too. She’d like to see it, likely a big tom from the strength of his markings. She missed having a cat. They’d had a big orange tabby when she was a girl- Shire- he used to lay an offering on the welcome mat each morning, a dead bat or a mouse. Once he’d brought home a tiny barn owl, she’d felt bad about that.

Her life cast in inflexible cement wouldn’t be including a cat. Ryan was allergic. Despite the irrational aspect of it, she held it against him. She hated weakness. No matter what her brain told her, her heart said strong people don’t have things such as allergies to cats.

Though she was miles from home, she thought she heard the baby crying. Could a sound be so imprinted on your mind that it played over and over again like a record on a broken record player? She hoped not. No, the baby was not crying. The empty shed was baby-less; its most important quality.

She slumped down onto the rough concrete floor. It was damp and cool and full of pigeon droppings and dried leaves blown in through the broken door. She didn’t care. She stretched her legs out in front of her and leaned her back against the wood wall. She liked the lighting, bits and pieces crept in through the holes between the boards, weathered and shrunk back from their original position. The light scattered on the floor like mosaic done by a crazy person. The silence of the empty room smoothed her jumpy heart; it allowed her thoughts to finally move again.

She decided she would not listen to Ryan; he had no right to comment. He was not at home all day with her. Crying and crying. Every day. Every hour. One demand after another. Swallowing her up. She tried to tell him, but he didn’t understand. He refused to understand. She was the victim, though she knew he’d not see it that way.

She’d been right, it was a tom cat. A big, midnight-black one stepped though the door. He wasn’t wild though; some fool had put a bell on his neck. He rubbed against her leg, and she ran her hand down his satin fur back as he arched up appreciatively. He stepped out of his domestic life retreating to the shed looking for a bit of relief, just like her. She lay down on the concrete floor and the tom cuddled up next to her.

She did the best she could, that was all that could be expected of a mother- to do her best by her child. She’d closed the door and left. If she had stayed things might have turned newspaper headline worse; she had enough sense to avoid that.

She stroked the cat and decided she’d wait for the moon to rise before she made her way home.


Anonymous said...

a break from her life is what she really needed, to contemplate her life and look at it from a distance, but I think in the end she saw something she would miss, I like how the empty shed brought out some of her childhood memories about her cat

Pirate Princess said...


The ugliness of her thoughts mirrored by the empty shed, poop, urine, etc. is effective. Depression's ugly swirling decline is a hard one to break out of. I hope she seeks help, and I hope Ryan is smart enough to realize she needs it.

Thank you for a good read!

Anonymous said...

oh my, oh my! I love this piece!! The ending unrolled so quickly I am still stunned, didn't see that coming which is perfect. And your writing of the images made it so tangible and real to me that I want to photograph that shed - when it is lit like in the story.

I love everything about this one - great read - thanks, thanks!!!

Lauri said...

Thanks guys. I always remember nursing my daughter and feeling like I was a slave to her. I couldn't be away from her for more than 4 hours (since she was a big fat baby who needed feeding every 4 hours or she reached decibels no human could tolerate) which meant I couldn't just get in the car and go somewhere alone- the thought of it made me insane. That was the motivation for the story.

Anonymous said...

You've done it again. I used to have a cat that left offerings on the front porch. Once I found the sweetest little bird and I couldn't bear that my supposed sweet cat had been the cause of that little one's death. I wept for days too. What I want to say really, is that it's your realism that makes your stories so wonderful. Real people, real events, real things. 'Her life cast in inflexible cement....' an outstanding image!!!

Lauri said...

Thanks, Selma.

Anonymous said...

Hi Laura.
I agree with Kayt’s (and the others) enthusiasm for your story. I especially liked your characterization technique wherein you didn’t present the protagonist via physical description but through her actions, reactions, and thoughts – which gives the reader a full subjective and objective psychological view of her. I also enjoyed the subtle way the story was written which, in turn, made it a suggestive read which was enhanced by the fact that you trust your readers to make the necessary connections and, perhaps, ones of their own.
I did, however find 3 nits:
1) ‘the sharp scent of cat urine’ is a pretty lacklustre description of cat urine.
2) ‘Crying and crying. Every day. Every hour. One demand after another. Swallowing her up’.
Five sentence fragments might be overdoing it. Maybe. Something to consider.
3)‘If she had stayed things might have turned newspaper headline worse…’
Should be
If she had stayed things might have turned the newspaper headline worse…

Anonymous said...

I meant Lauri, not Laura. Sorry

Lauri said...

Thanks David, those types of comments are really helpful as I often write these stories in a rush.

I'm sorry I've left your saga. I'm having no proper internet yet at my new home. Now I'll have a treat and get to read many instalments at once which will be very nice.