October Alley

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


He woke up from water that splashed on his back as a man in heavy boots walked past through a dirty puddle. Slowly he opened his eyes and took in the pale blue sky with the feathery clouds, the apartment buildings that were once brightly painted but now seemed to have a permanent layer of gray mist on their walls, and the pedestrians that walked past him in some kind of hurry that he himself never understood because he never experienced it. A pair of red stilettos, which he knew were in style five years ago and were now making a dramatic return, almost stepped on him and he decided that it was time. As he stood up and stretched and the city around him came into focus, he saw The Man sitting on the other side of the street, smiling and nodding while playing his accordion. The Man was blind, the Russian Blue's feline sense told him that, but the lack of The Man's eyesight never seemed to come between their friendship that has lasted more than a decade. The smile broadened and Old Murk knew The Man was telling him that it was indeed time. 

The cat crossed the street that he has crossed hundreds of times, knowing exactly when to pause, when to hurry forward, when to leap from under thundering wagon wheels. He came up to The Man and gently touched his knee with his dry-from-age nose. 
"You go now, Old Murk." The Man said, "You go now while the sun is where it is. Don't forget to tell me all about it, Murky."
I never do, he answered by rubbing against the same knee. 
" 'Course you don't, 'course." The Man chuckled, coughed, inhaled air at the same time as his ancient accordion, and continued playing.
 
Old Murk padded down the street, the music fading away as he went along. He was going the opposite direction as the pedestrians, but not once did anybody trip over him or even touch his side. He knew the people and he knew the way they walked in their pointless hurried fashion. His old but lean body seemed to avoid the clumsy feet in slow motion like a lazy river would go around boulders. In a minute, he will have to jump onto a horizontal drainpipe and after going around a corner of the house it was attached to, he will jump once again to find himself on a tiny balcony. There he will take a minute to rest and to remember Madame O'Maley. She was a pleasant old lady who would always give him some warm milk on a saucer with pink flowers. Old Murk never liked milk but he saw how the old lady's face would crinkle into a smile whenever he would drink her milk. One day, only a year ago, he came to the balcony but Madame O'Maley was gone. The smell of her Rose Cologne was still wafting in the air, but she herself was gone. From that moment on Old Murk tried his best to visit the balcony as often as he could and to remember her and her flowery perfume and her miniature pots of delicate roses and the warmed up milk.  
After the balcony, the Russian Blue will jump into a pathway that made its way between two brick houses and then come to the entrance of the October Alley. 
 
The black gate towered over the streets, its spikes high over the peoples' heads and its massive lock impossible to now open even with the right key because it was so rusty. However, these things never stopped Old Murk's annual visits to October Alley. He slowly walked up to the iron rods and sniffed the chipping black paints. Then he crouched down and made his way down under between the gate and the dusty ground. As soon as he was on the other side, he turned around and gave it a long look. He was so thankful to this gate for protecting the alley from the curious people and from the changes that have turned a peaceful town into a loud city right in front of Murk's nose. One more quiet moment and the cat was trotting down the alley. 
It was a road that was untouched by no one and nothing but the occasional squirrel or some rain. Nothing else was small enough to go past the massive gates. Around it stood oaks, both sprout-lings and hunch-backed giants. Their branches, brimming with fiery-colored leaves, intertwined high above Old Murk's head and cast down an orange light on his gray fur, because at that moment, the sun was where it was. He quickened his pace and the trunks began to rush past him and the autumn wind blew towards him, through him, and past him. Now he was going full speed, running as fast as his shaking paws would allow. He ran and ran, even though there was nothing to run from and nothing to run to. 
 
He gently slowed down, stepping on the carpet of leaves under him as quietly as he could. In front of him stood the oldest oak in the October Alley, the oak so old that even humans dared not to cut it down when building the alley over a century ago. He was now creeping forward, choosing each step carefully; he was so quiet now that one would have trouble seeing him at all. Over the roots Old Murk climbed until he was at the very trunk. He sat for a moment, looking at the ants crawling up the tree. Then he looked up, and for more than an hour he sat still, observing the shivering yellow and orange leaves of the oak. The feathery clouds swam across the pale blue sky. The leaves kept shivering and the clouds kept swimming and the pedestrians on the streets kept rushing forward, even though there was nothing to run to and nothing to run from. Only the cat, the oak tree, and The Man sat still, looking up. 
Old Murk turned around and gazed one last time at the October Alley, which was starting to lose its magical orange glow, for the sun was setting. He then gave himself a good lick around the ears and all about his back, and finally he rolled into a perfect ball. One last deep sigh, and he was falling into deep sleep at the roots of the oldest oak.
 
Over the last couple years, Old Murk knew that he would either wake up to see the sunrise over the oak's branches, or he wouldn't. If he would, he would have to pull through another year, waiting for October to come once again. And then he would have to return to the oak, and fall asleep in its roots, and wait to see if he would awake.
 
The Man waited till dark for the cat. He felt how there were fewer people on the streets, and how the rumbling of the wagons became more and more rare. He waited until his skin started to feel the cold of an autumn night. The Man sighed and then he lied down on his small mat, right by his accordion, and tried to imagine how he would live through tomorrow knowing that Old Murk will not come.


Submitted: April 06, 2016

© Copyright 2022 alaska22. All rights reserved.

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