Martha and Cat

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
The story after "Martha"

Submitted: February 11, 2015

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Submitted: February 11, 2015

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The day Sophie-June was born was the happiest day of my life. Even better than the day I married Cathie. Little did I know that six months later our happy family would be shattered forever.
I married Cathie on the 31st of May. I was twenty-seven and she was twenty-five. September the next year we had a beautiful daughter. When she was eight months old, she was christened. Her godmother was Cathie’s best friend from secondary school – Wilhelmina-Sue, more commonly known in our house as Wolf. Her godfather was my collage friend, Liam. My mother was an only child and I don’t know about my father’s family as he died when I was a baby so my family is mainly Cathie’s. Our mothers were best friends all their lives and are godmother’s to us. Cat’s parents divorced when I was nine, so her father isn’t mentioned much either. Cat has a sister who is nine years older than her – Maisie. Maisie got married when Cathie was fourteen, as she was pregnant. A few months later their son was born. When Jacob was six they had another child – a daughter this time – who they called Saffron-Rose, Saffy for short. 
Cathie has been my best friend all her life but our parents wanted us to get some other friends so Cathie went to a boarding school while I attended our local secondary school. When Cathie was fourteen her and her friends found a wizard……and they became Animagi. As her name suggests, Cat became a cat, which posed many problems for her as life went on. When Sophie-June was six months old Cat disappeared. I wasn’t particularly worried as she does that all the time. But when a week passed, and then another, and another, I was beginning to panic. Where was she??? Besides that, I couldn’t cope. A baby needs her mother, or a woman to be her mother, a bit like a nanny. I was unable to care for Sophie, work and keep the house clean by myself, so I hired Martha.  She was younger than me, about twenty-five I think, and one of a large number of children. I had seen a few women before Martha, but we hit off instantly.  She moved into the guest room immediately and was a great help.
A few days after she moved in I decided to contact the police. Cathie had never been gone tis long before, well apart from the four years when she was sixteen but that was provoked. I abandoned her, but now she has me and a beautiful daughter, why should she need to go? When I informed Martha that the police would be visiting she looked startled and, well scared.
“It’s alright,” I assured her, “it’s just to do with Cat being missing. They probably won’t so much as she’s an adult, but anyway.”
I sighed, I was lonely. I really missed Cathie. Knowing that she could come back any time she wanted didn’t make me feel any better. What if something had happened to her? She had a knack for picking fights which were beyond her. I was startled out of my thoughts by a loud knock on the door.
“I’ll get it,” said Martha kindly.
“Thank you,” I smiled gratefully at her.
A few moments’ later three policemen were sitting in my living room.
I swallowed nervously, “My wife went missing five weeks ago. I wasn’t worried at first because she often goes off for a week or two, but she still hasn’t turned up and she’s never been gone this long before.”
The older policeman nodded at me, “Now can you tell us a bit about your wife please?”
“Her name is Catherine-Kate Barnes. She goes by Cat - Kate when she was younger - and I call her Cathie – she gets annoyed if anyone else calls her Cathie. Her maiden name was McDonough. Cat’s up to my shoulder and slim. She had bright green eyes and jet black hair, short. Oh! And she has a scar from her shoulder to her hip.”
“Thank you, Mr Barnes, we’ll see what we can do.”
The policemen upped and left. I took a deep breath and sank back into the sofa, exhausted.

We put posters all about the town; I was hoping that she would see them and come home. Kerry and Lily came visiting, Kerry started blubbing about how she missed Cat, I could barely hold back a sharp retort about how did she think I felt, when Lily’s soft hand appeared on my shoulder.
“Don’t worry, she’ll come home.”
Her gentle confidence in my wife was enough to start me crying again when Sophie interrupted me.
Martha called from the kitchen, “I’m just making dinner, can you get her Sam?” She directed her next words to the twins “Are you staying girls?”  We all looked at Kerry who was still sobbing.
“I think we are,” answered Lily.

After dinner Martha asked about Sophie’s religion.
“She’s going to be Catholic,” I replied, only half thinking about what I was saying.
“Well you should christen her soon then, it might help you keep your thoughts off Cat,” Martha suggested.
“Oh yeah, yeah,” I responded, not really listening.

The next week I was working when Liam came round all of a fluster.
“Sam, oh Sam!” he panted. I shot to my feet.
“Yes Liam? What is it?”
“I have some big news. Your mum is Rose May right?” My heart started sinking, nothing about Cathie then.
“Yeah, why?”
“And your dad is Michael Barnes?”
“Yeah, why?” Liam took a deep breath.
“Because I think we’re half-brothers.” My head started spinning, Liam, my half-brother?
“I thought your dad was Jon Menlay?” I asked.
“So did I! But Mum told me earlier that he wasn’t. Apparently Michael and her went out for six years but then he met Rose May and they split up. Your dad never knew about me and vice versa. The only reason she told me no is because I mentioned your mother. Mum went a pale as a sheet and then she told me. She started going out with Jon three months later and when she discovered she was pregnant, they got married. She was never entirely sure if Michael was the father or not, but she thought he was. She was looking through old pictures and found one of Michael which looked just like me, that’s when she was sure. Mum didn’t know that he had another son though,” Liam explained.
I was too shocked to say anything. I just sat there, staring at him.
Eventually I said “Errg,” and fainted.
When I came to, I found Martha looking at me with a concerned look on her face,
“Are you okay, Sam?”
I nodded and said to Liam, “Our mum’s need to meet. How about at Sophie’s christening?” Liam nodded. “Will you be her godfather?” Liam nodded again, so that was that. Wolf agreed to be Sophie-June’s godmother, I knew that’s what Cathie would have wanted, she loved Wolf.

The day of Sophie’s christening dawned bright and beautiful. After the baptism we had a smallish gathering at our house. It was Martha, Kerry and Lily, Liam, his mum, my mum, Cat’s mum Ivy, her sister Maisie, Maisie’s husband Dylan and their two kids Jake and Saffy. It was a sombre affair without Cathie. Everyone seemed to like Martha though, which was good.

Time passed and although I got used to having Martha around, every morning the pain of losing Cathie was fresh and every night I cried myself to sleep. There was one week where I spent most of it praying. It didn’t really help, although Cathie’s cat Pad, who was ill, made a miraculous recovery. I think it was God’s way of telling me that Cat wasn’t ready to come home yet, but he was listening. There was another week where I barely slept; I spent my nights out on the streets, trying in vain to find Cathie. Martha eventually lured me back home. I was exhausted, filthy, hungry, thirsty and more determined to find Cathie than ever. The only reason I went back was because, as Martha said, there was no point in both of Spice’s parents leaving her. While I was slowly losing my mind, Martha was raising my child. She’d nicknamed Sophie-June Spice and taught her to say Dada and Marda. Spice had taught herself to say Mama. The first time that she’d said it I’d burst into tears.
By the time Spice was three, I’d accepted the fact that Cathie probably wasn’t going to come back. I’d also grown to love Martha, so on Spice’s third birthday, I asked her to marry me. She said yes.
My second wedding was quieter than my first. Wolf had point blank refused to come, her other three friends from St. Margaret’s had followed her lead, and I didn’t blame them. I felt disloyal to Cat even admitting to myself that I loved Martha, never mind marrying her. But I also knew that it was the right thing to do.

By the time Spice started school; I’d accepted the fact that Cathie was probably dead and neither Martha nor I mentioned Cat to Sophie. Martha brought Spice to and from school but one day when Sophie was six I brought her home and when I arrived at the school I was startled by the fact that there was a black cat hovering around. I never saw that cat again although I collected her from school every day afterwards.
It was nearly Spice’s ninth birthday when the deciding night came. Spice was restless and wouldn’t go to sleep. To make things worse Martha had a headache coming on so I said that I’d make her a cup of tea. Meanwhile Martha was going to settle herself in front of the TV when she got a surprise and called for me. I went in and saw another black cat curled up with Pad in the living room. I couldn’t believe it, it was nine years since I’d last seen Cathie, and Cathie it was - that I was sure of -  no other cat would have turned up here.
The next day she turned up as herself, Martha recognised her from the abundance of photos I have of her and disappeared off with Spice.
“Hi Sam,” Cat said softly. I just stared blankly back and she walked over to me. My eyes followed her as she bent down and kissed me softly. She kissed me again, that time my arms went round her and I pulled her onto my lap. After a few minutes I groaned and pushed her off.
“Cathie, what do you mean by disappearing off for nine years and now coming back? Did you think you could just waltz back in and be welcomed with open arms?” I demanded.
“I’m sorry Sammy. I lost track of time again. It was only yesterday that I realised I’d been gone for nine years. I only meant to go for the night. I just wanted some freedom,” she pleaded.
“I know, Cathie! That’s all you wanted when you were fourteen too. I love you but you can’t do this,” I stopped suddenly. “Are you feeling something familiar about this?”
She gave me a small smile, “Yes, Sammy, I am and I’m sorry. I’m doing a good job of messing your life up, aren’t I?”
“No, Cathie, you’re not.” I smiled fondly, but sadly at her. “However, you are doing a good job of disappearing on me.” Cathie looked like she was going to cry.
 “Hey?” I said softly, “Let them out. Crying is good for you. Come here and have a good weep, you’ll feel better afterwards.” She obediently shuffled across the sofa towards me until our knees were touching. I pulled her over onto my lap and she curled up, put her head on my shoulder and cried. I don’t know how long we were like that that but when she seemed like she was asleep Spice came in.
“Daddy? Daddy, can I come in now? Mum said I wasn’t to because you were busy, but is it okay now?
“Of course, come in and cuddle up,” I replied, patting the sofa with the arm that wasn’t wrapped around Cat.
“Why are you cuddling her? She’s not Mum.”
“I know but she’s sad.” My voice caught as I said it and I could feel Cathie tremble slightly.
“What’s her name?”
“She’s Cat. Do you know the pictures of the girl in my bedroom wall?”
“The one that was your best friend and is my godmother?” asked Sophie.
“Yes and no. She is my best friend but she’s not your godmother, that’s the other dark-haired girl called Sue,” I replied.
Cat stirred on my lap and I instinctively wrapped my arms around her tighter and murmured nonsense into her hair.
Darkness came quickly that day and Cat had nowhere to sleep. It would be awkward, I couldn’t sleep with Martha when Cathie was here, yet I couldn’t stay with Cathie either. It was eventually decided that I would sleep in the spare bed, Martha in our bed and Cathie on the sofa - she sleeps curled up like a cat anyway.
Cat stayed for a few days before Spice began questioning it.  I was finding it increasingly difficult to stop myself from kissing Cathie without either Spice or Martha knowing. Spice because she didn’t know about her mother and Martha because it would just be uncomfortable. After Cat had been with us for a week I decided to contact someone official because both Cat and Martha were legally my wives and I didn’t know what to do. The first person I talked to wasn’t sure, the second said it was alright and the third said no. All it had achieved was to make me more confused than ever. I loved Cathie passionately and always had done, but Martha had grown on me and she’d raised my child with me, she’d kept my house for nine years while Cat was off doing God knows what. How could I abandon her now? Toss her aside like she was nothing? Martha would think that I’d used her, not cared about her at all. I was still puzzling this out when the local priest came round. Most of what he said I didn’t understand and he contradicted himself a lot but basically I can either stay with Martha as I haven’t sinned because Cathie was presumed dead, or I can stay with Cathie since hers is the valid marriage. Which was interesting and all but didn’t solve my problem. I pondered my problem for a week or so more and then after Spice had gone to bed had a discussion with Martha and Cathie.
“Look, I love you both and I’m married to you both, so I’m in a bit of a dilemma right now,” I started. “According to Fr. Sweeney I can either stay with you, Martha, as Cathie was presumed dead so technically I haven’t sinned and we raised a child and it would be disruptive for her, or I can stay with Cathie since the child is ours and I married her first so our marriage is valid whereas Martha and I’s isn’t. Can I have your impartial opinions on what to do please?” Cat and Martha just stared silently back at me.
Eventually Cat spoke “Am I supposed to say that you should stay with Martha and MY OWN DAUGHTER while I slum it out on the streets?? Seeing Sophie-June call Martha her mother for her WHOLE LIFE?? Eh??” By the time she’d reached “whole life” she was shouting and she’d gone bright red. I’d seen Cat angry before, but never this angry. “Hey! Are you even listening, Sammy? Are you??” Cat took a shuddering breath and glared at me. The room suddenly seemed very quiet and I could hear Martha mutter “He doesn’t like being called Sammy,” to herself in the corner.
All of a sudden Cat turned on Martha, “I KNOW HE FUCKING DOESN’T LIKE BEING CALLED SAMMY!! BY ANYONE OTHER THAN ME, THAT IS!” She took another shuddering breath, turned into a cat and raced out the open door behind me. As she left the only thing I could think was “since when was I standing up?”
“Well that’s done it, Sam,” said Martha with a tone of finality in her voice, “At least you got your answer.” She rose and started to walk out of the door.
“Wait!” I cried, my voice cracking, “Where are you going?”
“To bed if it’s alright with you?” replied Martha drily.
I sunk back into the sofa and started crying softly. Both the women I loved had left me in a space of five minutes. I decided to see how they seemed tomorrow and sort it then. I finally drifted off on the sofa, tears still drying on my face.


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