SCHEHERAZADE’S 1,001 BYTES // Return to Sender

I fidgeted with the big yellow envelope. I’d found it poking under the front door that morning. It was quite unremarkable, with nothing inside, and the flap was wide open as if to say, “So what?” I tossed it on the coffee table and walked away.

I’d managed to busy myself with some household chores, so by the time I returned to the lounge room I had quite forgotten all about this enigmatic piece of stationery. I even found the cat curled up in front of it, quite unable to tear her eyes away. Perhaps it had a specific scent that was especially attractive to cats? I tried to beckon her away. “Here, kitty kitty!” She hissed at me, not once taking her eyes from the envelope—no, not even for a moment. Her tail twitched nervously. The envelope remained unmoved.

I tutted at her as I shrugged on a coat. I then headed down to the grocery store, thinking perhaps she’d get bored with the envelope and go searching for sparrows in the tree outside the kitchen window. This was her favourite thing to do, and she was flighty at the best of times so I wasn’t too concerned.

However, when I returned with a frozen pizza, coke and cat food, I noted that nothing had changed. The cat continued to stare at the envelope, as if hypnotised. She didn’t even react to the sound of me popping bubble wrap. That was something that usually got her attention, but not today. I cocked my head in befuddlement, then lay the bubble wrap at her side. Perhaps she’d notice it when she got bored with the mysterious envelope and then everything would return to normal.

I decided to get busy clearing out the small vanity cabinet in the bathroom. It was a task that I had put off for far too long. My ex had left behind a lot of stuff when she moved out, and I’d find things of hers laying about here and there, which would often dredge up old hurts. Sure, it had been six months since our relationship disintegrated, but that simply wasn’t long enough. This time, I found her favourite hand mirror, the one with an ornately carved face on the back. I picked it up between thumb and forefinger, holding it like the disgusting turd it was. I made for the yard to find a trash bin.

When I passed by the coffee table, it seemed at first as though the cat was gone. I let out a sigh of relief. Perhaps her strange behaviour had been purely a figment of my imagination. I continued my way toward the door, but then a strange sound from above made me stop short. I raised my head, and that’s when I noticed where she actually was. I recoiled. The mirror dropped from my hand and shattered on the floor.

The cat… she was on the ceiling! What the hell?!

I ran around in panicked little circles for a bit, then made myself stop. I couldn’t lose the plot just yet. There had to be a rational explanation for this. A scientific one! The cat was walking around on the ceiling because… because… well, there had to be a reason. I just had to pause, take a breath, and figure it out. I craned my neck and made myself really look at her. She was curled there on the ceiling, now grooming herself, as though this was a completely normal everyday occurrence. How could this stupid cat be so calm?

I walked out of the room. Where was that stepladder? I’d wear one of my thick, long-sleeved shirts and those heavy-duty gardening gloves with the reinforced padding and get that damn moggy off the damn ceiling, no matter what. She could try to scratch my eyeballs out. I didn’t care. I wasn’t having this kind of nonsense going on in my own house, thank you very much!

The stepladder was laying next to the wading pool in the backyard, down by the big blue gum near the perimeter fence. Puffing and panting, it took a lot of doing, but I managed to drag that ladder all the way back to the house and into the living room. Ten minutes alone were spent trying to enter by the door with that blasted ladder—I almost shattered a window! I was so pissed off and impatient by that point that I decided against trying to find the gardening gloves and shirt. I would just have to take my chances.

I raised the ladder upright and locked it into place. My foot was on the first rung when I looked up and… well, can you imagine my reaction when I saw that the cat was no longer there? Yes, I was really rather fucking annoyed by this point. In fact, I was morally outraged! Had there been some kind of cat ombudsman that I could have fired off an angry missive to then I surely would have done so. I certainly wasn’t going to wander about the house with a heavy ladder looking for a missing cat like some kind of idiot.

My shoe crunched on something. Oh, I’d forgotten about the shattered mirror! My eyes dropped to the floor, only to see that the cat was there. She was licking at one of the larger shards, and somehow not cutting up her delicate little tongue in the process.

And then I took a step back.

What was I seeing here? She was inside the mirror shard, oblivious to my shock as she set to licking her arse, one leg stretched high above her bobbing head. What. The. Fuck. That was the final straw. Fucking cats and their strange tricks!

I nervously swept all of the mirror shards into the envelope and sealed it up. I licked the back of a stamp and stuck it to the front, then wrote on it ‘Return to Sender’.

Besides, I’d always wanted a dog.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018