To the One Who Comes Next

Reads: 272  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: November 02, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 02, 2016

A A A

A A A


Chapter One

I watched silently from the living room windowsill, it had always been my favourite spot in the house, ever since I was old enough to reach it. The sun shone brightest on that side of the house, and always warmed me through the thick glass no matter the time of year. 

My boy sat on the sofa, hugging his legs so his knees nestled under his chin, staring at the television. I knew that look in his eyes, he wasn't really paying attention to the colourful pictures flickering on the screen, he was just trying his best to ignore his parents talking in the kitchen. They had arrived home with a new smell that evening, and I knew that smell all too well. My boy couldn't smell it like I could, but he knew what was in there with them just as well as I did, and it made him uncomfortable. 

With the click of the kitchen door opening, his posture tensed and his face contorted in to a pained scowl. He didn't turn to look as his parents walked in with their nervous, painted-on smiles and their over-enthusiastic tones. In one hand his mother carried a red plastic box with holes on the sides, a metal wired door in the front and a little black handle on the top. She stepped in front of the television and placed the box gently on the carpet in front of where my boy sat. She cooed at him in that soft tone she'd used just a little too much in the last few weeks as she unhooked the wire door and opened it wide, then she stepped aside and watched. Her smile faded as my boy stared ahead at the television, blinking just a little too often.

That was my box, before. 

A few moments later, my gaze was drawn to a slight movement in the entrance to my old box, and then the smell became something much more real. First a tiny pink nose emerged, followed by two bright blue eyes and a dozen or so tiny white whiskers. Two little white paws slowly stepped on to the carpet, bringing with them the rest of what belonged to a small, all white kitten. Before the little creature had a chance to take in this strange new world, my boy threw himself from his place on the sofa and ran from the room, tears in his eyes and a look of anger and pain wiped across his face. The unexpected outburst shook the little white thing to it's very core, which sent it flying back in to my old box and out of sight. My boy's parents had left the room and gone back in to the kitchen, sounding defeated and exhausted. 

I leapt from my place on the windowsill on to the floor, and paused for a moment to contemplate following my boy to see if he was OK, but that would have to wait. I pawed my way slowly to the red box in the middle of the room and arched my head around to look through the open door, peering in to the darkness at the quivering white body curled up in the back. His bright blue eyes looked straight back at me unblinking. 

"You can't hide in there forever," I said, matter-of-factly. "no-one here is going to hurt you." I tried to seem as reassuring as possible, but I'm sure he knew I wasn't a threat.

"Why did he run?" A little whisper asked from the darkness.

I peered down for a moment and then back up at him, flicking my whiskers on one side. 

"Why did you run?" I moved my body entirely in the way of the open door now, sitting down and curling my tail around my front paws, keeping my eyes on the creature the entire time. 

"I was scared...he scared me." The little voice squeaked, as though it should have been obvious. Of course it was. 

I flicked my whiskers again and blinked slowly. "He was scared, too. You scared him."

The kitten rose his head a little, eyes widening in disbelief. 

"What did I do? I'm not scary!" He sounded completely mortified by the mere notion. 

I smirked and stood up again, turning away from the box and padding over to where my boy previously sat. In two effortless jumps and in less than as many seconds I was on the arm of the sofa. "You're new. You're the future." I stated, sitting down once more and looking back at the box. My new friend was venturing out again, slowly, and more wary than before. "Sometimes the future can be scary to them, especially when they haven't let go of the past just yet." I turned my head and looked to the side-table, upon which sat a small wooden box with a shiny square of metal on the lid and a photograph propped up against the wall behind it. 

The little white body moved to beneath where I sat and followed my gaze, looking up at the box. 
"What's in there?" He asked nervously. 

I stared for a moment and then turned to look down at him, blinking slowly.
"I am."

Chapter Two

That first night was difficult for both my new friend and I. They had shut him in the kitchen with a tray, a small bowl of water and a few old towels on the floor upon which to sleep. I was oddly comforted by the fact that they had bought him new bowls instead of giving him my old ones. Sentiment was not something I experienced often. 

I decided to keep him company that night, but often I found my thoughts wondering to my boy upstairs in his bed. Usually I would be with him, but I felt I was needed more by the little white soul who, in just one day had left his mother, his siblings and his home, to be ushered in to a whole new world filled with strange people and smells, and had only been offered rejection thus far. We spoke for what seemed like hours, and I told him my story.

"Two weeks ago I passed away." I lowered my body to the tiled floor, front paws tucked neatly underneath my chest and my long tail curling around my body to meet them. He lay similarly to me on his bed of towels and listened intently. "As a kitten I was brought here, like you, in the plastic box as a present for my boy. I was no older than you are now and I missed my mother and brothers terribly. I was afraid and overwhelmed and I was cold. It was much colder outside then than it is now. Once I had found my bearings I remember thinking of nothing but finding a warm place to curl up and rest. I found that warmth I so desperately craved, nestled in to the side of an infant, lying on the floor on a blanket. That was the very first time he and I met."

I closed my eyes for a moment, remembering that warmth, tucking my tiny frame in as close as I could. For a moment before I fell asleep next to him, his innocent blue eyes met mine, and he was my boy. I didn't need to share that. That was my special memory.

Opening my eyes once more I saw my new friend waiting patiently for me to continue, so I did. 

"We grow faster than they do you see, so in my adult years I watched him grow and learn, and I was by his side for as much of it as I could be present for. I slept in his crib when he was an infant, and in his bed when he was a child. When his bed got bigger, I still stayed as close as I could every night. When he was upset, I was there to comfort him. When he was afraid, I was there to protect him." I paused for a moment and lowered my gaze, untucking my paws from beneath my chest and stretching them out in front of me to rest my chin upon. 

"As I watched him grow from a child in to a young man, I found myself growing tired. My body slowed and longed for rest. My stomach ached and gave me a hunger that food no longer satisfied, and my mind...my mind wandered so. I was leaving him, not all at once, which would be painful enough for him, but in a wrenching succession of separations. One moment I was there, and then I was gone again, and each journey took me a little further from his reach. He could not follow me to the places my broken mind would go, and at times, when I sat staring at the wall for hours on end, I'm sure he would wonder where I went when I left. In my rare moments of clarity, I was plagued with guilt for him having to watch me slip away." I stopped for a brief moment, remembering where I was and who I was talking to. I looked up at my young student and his eyes bore in to mine with pity and an innocent and genuine empathy, but still he waited to hear the end of my story. 

"Had it been much longer, I may have simply gone to sleep and drifted away, but my boy made the decision to take my pain from me, my pain that undoubtedly would have only grown worse before it took me. I didn't really understand at the time the merciful gift he was affording me, but I'm grateful for his decision. That day, he cried in to my greying fur and held me tightly with a gentle, reassuring strength as he said his goodbyes to me. As I felt the pain leave me, and the soothing blanket of sleep pulled up over my old body. He stayed with me, and I was not afraid."
My tiny student looked at me silently for a moment, I watched as the pieces all fit together behind his eyes and in that moment he understood why my boy was scared of him. With a wide yawn and a few exhausted blinks he broke the silence. 

"I think I'd like to sleep now." He whispered, and without another word from either of us he curled into a ball on his towel and drifted away in to somnolence.

Chapter Three

I awoke to find myself curled up closer to my tiny bedfellow than I remember being when I fell asleep. I lifted my head to look at our surroundings and then I realised, I had not moved. It was my new friend that had moved closer to me in the night. Rising to my feet I arched my back and yawned, stretching off the layer of sleep that had settled atop me before seating myself back down and indulging in my morning wash. My ears flicked and turned as I heard the sounds of the household waking up above us and the morning chorus of birds outside the kitchen window. For a brief moment I longed to stalk the noisy little beasts and feel the crunch of their frail husks between my powerful jaws, but such activities were for the living. Not for the first time in the past fortnight I found myself brooding over how boring it was to be dead. 

I left my still sleeping friend and escaped the confines of the kitchen to seek out my boy, who's bed I had not slept on for the first time in many years the night before. As I ascended the stairs slowly, I heard the bathroom door opening, and my boy emerged with dripping wet hair and a sombre expression. I never quite understood the bathing rituals of my human family, why on earth would one choose to get any more wet than one must? 

I followed him in to his room and hopped on to his bed to join him in his morning ritual. There was once a time he would speak to me in his bright and cheery tone, holding up items of material to his body as if to ask my opinion on what to cover himself in that day. He tried to put smaller versions of his human garments on me once. That endeavour quickly ended after I flopped to the floor defiance and sulked under the bed for three hours after having them removed. 
I somewhat resent the fact that they chose to honour my memory by displaying a photograph of me in a festive sweater.

As I watched him prepare for the day ahead, I noticed him stop at his desk and gingerly pick something up. Leaping to the floor I trotted to stand by his feet to get a closer look, but I already knew what it was that he was holding. In his hands he turned it around and around, weaving it through his fingers and stroking the fabric so gently you might think it was made of spiders silk. That little blue, velveteen collar I wore around my neck for so many years with the white fleece lining and the little silver bell that lost its jingle long ago. Some of my black hairs still stuck to the lining and I watched him pick one off carefully, rolling it between his thumb and forefinger. The air escaped his lungs like something heavy was pressing down upon his chest, and in that moment I so desperately wanted to be able to rub my head against his leg, or leap on to his desk and bat off the scattered nicknacks for his amusement. He would always enjoy that display, picking them up off the floor and placing them infront of me to swipe at again and again. When we first discovered this simple pleasure, he would place his small toys on the edge of the desk for me to send flying across the room. Over the years the toys turned in to trinkets, and trinkets turned in to pens and pencils. He would sit in his desk chair, hunched over his school work, and I would throw his pen in to the abyss underneath the bed at the first oportunity he gave me. Even as my limbs grew tired, and my swipes turned in to laboured taps, he would still laugh. My sweet, simple boy. 

I'd have to teach my new student that game. 


© Copyright 2017 Carolynne Maclachlan. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Fantasy Short Stories

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Carolynne Maclachlan

Popular Tags