Saturday 24 June 2023

'Dream State' by Melissa Flores Anderson

The hair dresser hadn’t me the phone and I heard my mother’s voice break.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said.

“Maybe it’s time.”

I got home smelling of coconut and lemongrass shampoo from the salon to find my dad at the dining table, his eyes downcast and his shoulders folded forward.

“You’re right,” my mom said, a catch again in her throat.

Time for the cat to be put down. Bailey. A 12-year-old Siamese mix with a creamy coat. He’d gotten the name from my college boyfriend who had a penchant for Irish cream. The cat had long outlived the relationship. After college, I moved back home and the cat took to sleeping on my bed at night.

While my parents sat, I knelt down to get into the crawl space under the stairs to retrieve the cat carrier. I drove with my mom to the vet while my dad stayed home, not wanting to be present for it.

“I’ll give you a minute alone with him,” the vet said in the sterile room. The cat hunched down on a cold, stainless steel table. We petted behind his limp ears, his fur greasy and unclean, and he let out his squeaky half purr for the last time. Bailey’s spark left the room and we had just his body left in front of us.

That night as I slept, I felt his weight jump onto the edge of the bed, his half purr emitting into the dark. Half awake, I sat up to reach for him before I remembered he was gone. For a week, I woke to the sound of the purr, a comfort in the quiet, empty morning. And then Bailey was gone for good.

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