Saturday 6 June 2020

Walkabout Ted' by Emily Livingstone

Into every life, a miracle must fall. Some are bigger than others, and the small ones just look like weird shit sometimes. Mary had her pregnancy with Jesus—want it or not, here He came. There are bleeding statues, ghostly kisses, and rainbow promises, but my miracle was Walkabout Ted.

I don’t know where he got that name. He was the neighborhood’s cat, fed by everyone, wandering around and leaving dead mice on our doorsteps. Sometimes, he followed us and watched when we played, tail swishing like he was telling time for us or keeping the beat. I took piano a couple times, so I knew what a metronome was.

Ted was gray like a daytime shadow, and his fur was the softest thing I’d ever touched, not that he let me touch him much. He was too wild. I respected that. I knew, better than most, that touching was not always good, yet I longed to touch him, and felt guilty for the longing.

One day, after school, the word was that Walkabout Ted was run over by a car. Riley Thomas had seen him, flat as a pancake. We all found something black to wear and went to look for the body, but while we were looking I felt eyes on my shoulder, and I turned. There was Ted, tail swishing like a wink, watching us. I alerted the crew, and we shouted and clapped. A few of us cried, and no one said anything about the tears.

On a different day, Mr. Fern called my house, and I didn’t want to go home after school, so I stayed out all night, wandering in the neighborhood, and things looked different, and sounded different. Everything was wet and cold, and there were strangers walking around. I sat down against the side of the building where Edie’s and Vince’s families lived, and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.

Then, I felt something soft touch my hand, and I wasn’t even scared. It was Walkabout Ted, and he brushed against me this way and that, and then he climbed in my lap and let me hold him all night, and the spot where he was was warm and perfect.

My parents were still really mad the next day, but I thought about Ted in my lap like a warm shadow, and it helped.

I never saw Ted again after that, and the other kids said he must’ve died for real, but I don’t think so. I feel a little bad, because I think I took all his love, and then he left. I feel bad because I know the other kids might’ve needed that love, too, more than me—but it’s too late.

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