Saturday 25 June 2016

'Feeding the Cat' by Susan Howe

The knock came as Sarah was opening a can of Whiskas with the cat sitting at her feet, desperate for his supper. Marcus, home early for once, was upstairs getting changed out of his business suit.
Get that, will you?” he shouted down. “I’m not decent.”
Sorry, Caesar,” she said to the cat. “It’ll be one more minute.”
The second knock was louder than the first. Sarah hurried to the front door, the tin in one hand and a fork in the other. Outside, a woman about her own age waited unsmiling in the rain.
Is Marcus home?” she said.
Yes,” Sarah replied. “Come in out of the wet. He’ll be down in a sec.”
She called up, “Marcus, there’s someone to see you!”
Marcus bounded down the stairs, then stopped, wide-eyed. As Sarah frowned and turned to take another look at the visitor, she was grabbed firmly by the shoulders, swung round and propelled back down the hall towards the kitchen. Before she could catch her breath she found herself on the other side of the closed door. The cat watched from his position by his empty bowl.
Panting, she stood a moment trying to understand what had just happened, but her brain refused to engage. She stared unfocused at the pattern on the wallpaper until Caesar reminded her he was hungry by clawing at her jeans.
Okay, okay,” she whispered, lifting his dish onto the worktop.
The fork rattled against the inside of the can as she struggled to control her hand, which trembled violently for a reason beyond her grasp. The murmur of voices in the hall grew louder yet more indecipherable as she leaned towards it. Then scuffling. And shouting. She almost dropped the fork as the front door slammed, shaking the crockery in the cupboards. Her chest ached under pressure from her thudding heart. Caesar miaowed and stretched up to paw at the tin as it hung temptingly close but still out of reach.
Several seconds passed in silence, broken by frenzied hammering on the front door. Sarah waited, her knees weak, leaning against the washing machine for support.
The kitchen door opened and Marcus stood before her, pale and shocked but avoiding her eyes. He flinched at every blow to the solid oak behind him.
What the hell is going on?” Sarah managed, through chattering teeth.
She watched his jaw working while he searched for an answer and at the moment he opened his mouth to speak, the fog cleared. With a cold surge of fury she realised she knew exactly what was going on.
Barely glancing at her husband, she placed Caesar’s supper on the floor, removed her car keys from the hook, and opened the back door. Caesar glanced up from his dish. 
She’d pick him up the following day when she came for the rest of her things. Marcus obviously couldn’t be trusted, even with feeding the cat.

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