She rolls over, the soft hiss of middle-aged flesh sliding through 300-thread-count cotton announcing her change in position. She is surprised by the darkness of her bedroom and the numbers on her clock. The sunrise should have happened by now. She groans and swears and flops on her back, squeezing her eyes shut.
The black cat repeatedly plucks the box spring, stretching to begin his morning dance. He’s been waiting for what seems like hours and hours for signs of life, and a signal that breakfast is soon on offer. He leaps on the bed and carefully steps on every possible tender spot on her torso as he makes his way to her exposed face. His motor revs as he kneads her breast, then turns a circle to find the spot on her neck where he can most easily cut off her oxygen supply.
“There it is,” he thinks, sighing as he wedges himself under her chin, turning just enough to create an airtight seal between his butt and her neck. His fluffy tail lifts and describes a feather shape across her cheek and under her nose.
“She’s not going anywhere,” he snickers, “Except to fill my gaping food bowl.” He settles in deeper, becoming heavier as his girth spreads like melting chocolate. His head drops, eyes disappearing into furry slits, and the relaxing balm of his aggressively joyful purr slows and stops. His need to sleep and snuggle overwhelms his ravenous belly. He snores.
He’s too hot, too itchy, and now her back is cramping from being pinned in an awkward position. She rolls to one side, easing the cat from under her chin, letting him slide into the warm pocket left by her retreating shoulder. She is not careful enough.
He digs in with hind claws and launches himself from the bed and into the hallway, touching down on the ground only once as he flies out the bedroom door. He paces just outside, hopeful, rubbing his muzzle on the door jamb and snaps his fuzzy tail with increasing impatience. He stops, plants his butt on the floor, back as straight as a cat can get it, staring resolutely in the direction of the kitchen. His front paws are neatly placed side-by-side like a fancy man’s black leather slippers. “Stupid Human. Wake the hell up and rustle up some grub, dammit.”
She rolls away from him, pulling her blankets higher so that only her curly bedhead shows in the half-light. She tries to drift back down into that dream—What was it again? And with whom?—because after all, it’s a Saturday morning, and the sun’s not shining even though it should’ve been high over the trees and pouring through the gap of her curtain. There’s another hour yet before she has to get up, drink the coffee, do the things, and run her pen across the plane and over the edges of her writer’s notebook, in hope that something spills over that might be edit-worthy.
For his part, the cat stalks off on his velvet clawed feet, noses around the disappointingly crunchy kibble from last night’s offering. His metal tags jangle the edge of his food bowl, then cease their ringing. Maybe five seconds later, what follows is the not-so-silent sound of hacking and retching from somewhere directly in the line of foot-traffic across the living room floor.
This is my love story.
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2018)