Mother Cat

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

A new mother accidentally kills a stray kitten and becomes obsessed that the mother cat is stalking her for revenge.

This story may be disturbing to some individuals.

"All I can remember is waking up on a bathroom floor in a puddle of lukewarm water. I was confused and my head hurt. I could hear the water running, but I couldn't move to turn it off. I just laid there trying to make sense of it all. I didn't know that I hit my head on the sink, I didn't know that I had a concussion, the doctors told me that. They told me to write down what I could remember about what happened to me. I know my name is Morgan Rivera, but everything else seems to elude me now."

Morgan Bennett sat upright in the hospital bed and continued to scrawl on a notepad until the attending nurse came to draw blood from her right arm. Morgan still clutched the pen in her hand as the nurse took her arm and swabbed it with an alcohol wipe. She cringed as the needle pierced her skin and sank into her vein. The nurse didn't engage in any conversation, she just routinely filled her quota of blood and was on her way. Morgan barely acknowledged the nurse's visit and went back to scribbling on her tablet as if she was never there.

There was so much that Morgan Bennett could write about if she were to regain her memory. So much, for a happily married and proud parent of a beautiful baby boy to brag about. She had just moved with her husband, Jarrod, to the Lower East side of Manhattan. It was just enough mix of suburbia and city that she had craved. It boasted some of the finest schools and even though her son, Aaron, was only 10 months old; she had already researched them all. There were trendy boutiques, mom-and-pop shops, cozy cafes, and chic restaurants just blocks from her home. She couldn't have been happier with their new studio apartment. It was nestled in a century old six story tenement building. It was the most breathtaking highrise that she and Jarrod had toured. She had hoped for an apartment on the sixth floor to be available, but only a first and third story unit were unoccupied. They opted for the third floor which was a little more money than ground level, but they felt more secure. $5,000 a month was a little outside of their budget, but Jarrod would be commuting to the law firm that he worked at via subway and Morgan had been doing well as a freelance writer for the past several years. Morgan was a bit shaky about this big step, but the "I'll do anything for you" look in Jarrod's eyes teetered her in "the hell with it" lets do it direction. Jarrod would take on more hours, and she would take on more writing assignments.

She felt at home the moment she and the stroller wheels hit the pavement. The walk to East River park felt like kismet. She glanced around at her surroundings and the people they passed. She didn't feel out of place in the least, she actually felt a little superior to them. Obviously these people had money, but they definitely didn't know how to wear it. Even Aaron was dressed better than some of the people they passed by, all the way down to his Gucci booties. It was proving to be all she had ever wanted, a stark contrast to her life in the Bronx. She desperately needed to leave that life behind. There she wasn't special. Life was hard and the only apparel that she ever wore that began with a "G" was Goodwill. You want better for your children, she thought. Even if her parents never made good on that ideal, she would.

She thought very much about her old life that day in the park as she watched her son stumble through the grass to retrieve a ball that her husband had tossed a little too far. The ball disappeared into the higher section of grass in the field that hadn't been cut yet. "Aw, daddy threw that TOO far. Mommy will get it." Aaron giggled at the funny way Morgan spoke and waved her arms as she went to retrieve the ball. She went in where she saw the ball roll and pushed around the flowering blades in hopes of finding it. "The ball is hiding from mommy," Morgan squealed to Aaron's delight. She stepped a few more feet into the high grass and lost her footing. She hadn't known what had tripped her up, perhaps the ball.

"Are you okay?" Jarrod asked concernedly.

"Yeah, mommy tripped," she said with a laugh.

Jarrod picked up Aaron and walked closer to his wife to make sure she was okay. Morgan gathered herself and stood up. She shrieked as soon as she looked down and saw the patch of fur. Vermin touching her shoes made her cringe. However, it wasn't vermin. Its striped furry legs twitched. The tabby convulsed for a few moments and then laid still. Morgan was mortified, she didn't want her son to see it.

"No Jarrod, keep Aaron away," she pleaded.

"Are you hurt?" he asked keeping his distance as his wife had requested.

"Yes, I stepped on a kitten and I don't want Aaron to see it." She didn't want to implant the image in her son's mind. He was too young to learn about death.

"Is it dead?," her husband innocently asked.

"Jarrod! Not in front of Aaron," she said as she nodded her head in confirmation.

She didn't want to put the fear of death into her young son's mind as her mother had done to her many years ago. She continued to stare in horror at the animal. "It's got to hurt to die no matter how you go," that's what she remembered her mother saying as her dog lay dying of old age. "The last breath, it's got to be awful." Morgan hated her mother for leaving her with this thought for the rest of her life. She never understood why her mother would have shared this belief with a ten year old child reeling with pain over the loss of her beloved pet, but she made it very clear when she left the Bronx that she wouldn't be around for her mother's last breath.

She imagined that the kitten did suffer when she stepped on it, even though Jarrod later assured her that a broken neck was a quick end. Morgan was inconsolable so she also imagined that he was just doing the best that he could to quell her. She thought of her mother again and what she had said. She thought of her baby in comparison to the kitten, stumbling in the grass playfully and then unexpected cruel pain. She shook her head of the thought and felt horrible for even thinking such morbid things. The kitten laid still, only its fur had motion in the breeze. Morgan was tempted to touch it, but she didn't want it to somehow revive and continue to writhe in pain.

She glanced sorrowfully over at her husband. He kept his distance with their son as she requested. She stepped back shakily and noticed a patch of grass a few feet away rustle. The moving grass came toward her in a straight line. A dark tail became visible between the blades of grass. It was another cat. The feral grey and white tabby came upon the dead kitten and sniffed at it. Morgan pitied the animal. She knew it had to be the kitten's mother. She wondered briefly if it was capable of the great sadness over the loss of its offspring. The cat continued to mull over its young until it was satisfied that it was dead. The cat then acknowledged Morgan's presence. It crouched and turned its jade eyes toward her scowling. The hiss it emitted deviated from a throaty growl to a wailing cry which startled Morgan. She backed away slowly from the cat, never taking her eyes from it. Morgan suspected that it may have been rabid and when she felt a safe enough distance, she hurried her husband and child away from the field. Morgan looked anxiously at the high grass as Jarrod strapped their son into his stroller.

"It's okay, it was an accident," her spouse tried to comfort her.

"I know, but that cat...it hated me," she said.

Jarrod chuckled, but quickly composed himself. "I'm sorry Morgan, but your're talking about it like you killed someone's child."

"I did," she said solemnly under her breath as they left the field.

The walk home definitely wasn't as upbeat as the walk to the park. She swore she could still hear the angry cat howling at her. She felt in a fog.

"What do you say we stop for ice cream?" Jarrod asked enthusiastically.

A suggestion Morgan initially frowned upon. She felt as if her husband was making light of her emotions as if she were acting childish about the little incident in the park. After all, what would appease a distressed child? Ice cream of course. She didn't want to fight or egg on more coddling, so for Aaron's sake she agreed. He didn't need to see mommy sad. It was supposed to be a happy day out for the family.

They stopped in one of the mom-and-pop shops that she was previously so anxious to visit. No doubt this quaint little shop would now bring a terrible image to mind. As she sat eating her homemade double dipped dark chocolate ice cream cone, she realized that it was too good to find anything bad about this particular shop in order to avoid it in the future. Her husband and son seemed equally pleased. It was silly for her to want to ban this store over an accident. It was an accident. She didn't even like cats, in fact they have always frightened her a bit. The way they looked at her, as though they were keenly plotting something. Her mother apparently never liked them either as whenever the family cat had kittens, her mother would drop them in a bucket of water "to take care of them." Funny how she never thought that drowning was a terrible way to die, maybe because there was no last breath of air. Morgan rationalized that the kitten probably never would have made it to adulthood regardless of the mishap.

The mother cat itself looked beaten up. It was missing fur in areas around its face presumably from by old battle wounds with other animals. It must have been eating well from a dumpster somewhere in the city as it was surprisingly plump for a stray. It had the same still and calculating look that Morgan hated about felines. She reeled her thoughts away from the cat and focused on her son. She shuffled a few napkins toward Jarrod to wipe the melting mess that had become of Aaron's ice cream. It was clearly time to go.

A few more blocks and they were home. Morgan was glad that they didn't get that sixth floor apartment, as the six flights of stairs wouldn't be welcome. Even three felt daunting that day. Inside their apartment, it was barely 2:00 pm and Morgan was already fretting about dinner. Jarrod always said that he didn't care what she made for dinner, but fairly routinely griped about something or other on his plate. She pulled two steaks from the fridge to defrost and went to put Aaron down for a nap. Maybe she could get a little writing done and the day wouldn't seem like a total wash to her.

There was no such luck. Aaron was in a fussy mood. He began to cry incessantly, throwing Morgan into a near panic attack. She uncharacteristically shouted at her son. Her husband heard the commotion and came to intervene only to be met with anger from his frustrated wife.

"Could you please do something with him!" Morgan screeched.

"Morgan, he's just tired, you're overreacting," he answered sternly.

"That would be something you'd say, you're not home with him all day," she snapped back.

He wanted to yell right back at her the reason why he wasn't home as much, to afford her lifestyle. He instead bit his tongue, he knew that she was just a little tired herself. Jarrod picked up their son, rested Aaron's head on his shoulder and rubbed the sobbing boy's back gently. Aaron calmed down almost completely except for the little hiccup gasps from crying so hard.

Morgan felt immediate guilt, "I'm sorry, I just had a really bad day you know."

Jarrod swayed his hips, rocking his son calmly. "It's alright, I got Aaron go grab a break," he assured her before kissing her cheek tenderly.

She could only muster a humiliated smile. She was ashamed of her behavior. A break was needed but never wanted to burden her husband because he worked so hard. That never stopped her from resenting him though. At least she did have the presence of mind to know how selfish that was. It takes two people to make a baby, so she took the break without the guilt. After all, she was still reeling over the kitten even though she kept telling herself not to. It made her wonder if the mother cat had any other offspring. What must she be doing if she hadn't any? Perhaps it had borne many litters and would somehow feel relieved a slight burden of caring for one more.

Morgan needed fresh air, but didn't want to lumber down the stairs to get it. The window in the hallway was nearly painted shut, but she managed to force it open. It made her nervous that the window led to the fire escape for safety reasons. She would probably never open it when Aaron started to walk well and still not for some time after. It appeared that the previous owners rarely opened the window either, judging by the inch of dirt on the sill on the other side of the glass and the lack of a screen. Regardless, the breeze did feel good. She sat and looked lazily at the view. She knew that she wouldn't get any work done and relinquished that goal for the day. She wondered when she would find the time and mindset to write post move. She had just began to feel settled back into her career 6 months after Aaron's birth but shortly thereafter began the search for a bigger apartment. That in itself seemed all time consuming. Morgan felt pressured to resettle quickly or else her reputation would take a big hit. Her mind was too distracted. It made her distraught that she was finally getting everything that she ever wanted, but felt like she was losing everything.

Even the apartment of her dreams seemed to be closing in on her. She felt thankful for the less than perfect window just then. It made her feel all the less boxed in. The sounds of life outside the apartment were encouraging to hear, as life had not stopped because of a bad day. The traffic lulled her, the birds begged her to cheer up, even the neighbors she'd hadn't gotten a chance to meet murmured friendly chatter below. She felt refreshed and an air of resilience. Morgan stood from her self imposed time out and grasped the window frame in an effort to close it when she heard a sound from below that lifted up forcefully against the others. It was the wail of a cat. She peered out the window, but could see no animal. She swore that she could still hear it as her husband approached.

"Listen closely," she urged him.

He did, but could hear nothing that resembled an animal's cry. She let it go swiftly because she didn't want to hint that she felt the sound was coming from the cat that she had encountered in the park. Morgan was fairly certain that Jarrod had already made the assumption as to what was in his wife's head. He was just as wisely quick to drop the subject and instead shimmied the window shut and latched the lock.

Morgan was gone before he even turned around. He found her checking in on their sleeping son.

"You don't have to write anymore, you know?," Jarrod whispered.

"I'm not giving it up, I'm just a little out of sorts with the move and everything," she replied quietly as she stroked her son's soft blonde hair. "Everything is going to be fine, I haven't missed a deadline yet," she assured him.

But that wasn't true, she was becoming terribly close to missing a deadline that had already been extended. Someone else would probably get the job, perhaps someone else was already on the article as a failsafe for the magazine. She had already lost a few accounts that she had worked years to secure and sadly they only took a few months to dissolve. The feeling of wanting to blurt it all out came over her but she didn't want to, not until she figured it out for herself. Her husband's opinion couldn't be impartial, he just told her to quit.

Morgan excused herself from his company citing that she needed a few herbs to flavor their steaks. She lumbered down the steps to venture outside for a few moments knowing that she wasn't headed for the store. Maybe her outing would produce an unbiased opinion, not that she'd jump right in and dump her problems on a complete stranger. It would take time to attain that level of friendship, but you have to start somewhere. It wouldn't be the worst thing to kick it off as soon as possible and maybe even lay the groundwork for a trustworthy babysitter. She ascended the brick stairs to the cobblestone sidewalk below. It was very quaint, but undoable in heels. The mental note of taking a change of shoes was placed.

She had hoped that the couple talking would still be around, but saw no one within range. An older couple almost a block away were returning from shopping and there was a team of movers loading furniture onto a truck. Maybe neighbors closer to her age would move in she thought. Morgan continued to stroll down the street with no destination in mind. She passed by a trellis of blooming roses and then turned back. How could she resist to stop and smell them? She felt silly, but leaned in to take in a whiff. She felt deserving of it and didn't care if someone caught her in the act. Perhaps her pause would strike up a conversation.

The aroma from the tea roses was so delightful to her that she drew in an even deeper breath. A strikingly sharp pain in her ankle cut her delight short. Morgan winced in pain as she brought her leg up to grasp her ankle. She felt the heat from the wound and her palm became damp. Removing her hand she saw that her palm was streaked with blood and her ankle smeared crimson. Fresh driblets dotted the spotty slash. Morgan was confused at how she had gotten the cut, until she heard the hiss trailing down the alleyway. She leaned on the corner of the building that held the trellis and scanned down the corridor. She saw no movement, only a ten speed bike chained to piping, empty flower pots, and a dumpster.

Morgan traveled slowly down the alley toward the trash bin. There was a broom propped up alongside the dumpster. She picked it up and swatted the metal container in hopes of spooking out her attacker. The disruption rattled nothing but a few flies that were swarming the trash. Satisfied that she was alone in the alley, Morgan turned to set the broom back in place. A few feet away sat the cat. There was no mistaking that it was the mother cat from the field, the battle wounds served as the feline's defining features. It sat licking Morgan's blood from its paw. The cat held its ground nonchalantly as Morgan approached it, broom still in hand. The angry woman smacked the cat with great force and it fled knocking the clay pots asunder.

"That'll teach you, you little bitch," Morgan muttered as she dropped the broom by the shattered pots. She looked around to make sure that no one saw her crazed moment of seemingly unprovoked animal cruelty, and then down at her ankle. Blood had trickled down and stained her shoe. She frowned, the shoes were trash and she'd toss them after she tended to her injury. Morgan managed her way back home and even avoided her husband seeing her condition. He would have no doubt insisted she see a doctor to get stitches and a rabies shot. She wanted no more drama that day. A close eye on it would be good enough, and if she felt as if she wanted to bite anyone; an appointment would be made promptly. Her next order of business was to apologize to her husband.

She found him on the couch browsing the internet with his laptop. "I'm sorry for the way I acted today," she said sheepishly as she sat down on the couch next to him.

Jarrod closed the laptop. "It's alright baby. It wasn't the most pleasant day, tomorrow's a new start." He held her hand firmly. "I know that you're still thinking about that kitten, it was an accident so stop beating yourself up about it."

She embraced his hand with both of hers, "No, I'm sorry for blaming you and Aaron for me being stressed out."

"Sweetheart, it's fine. I understand. I'm here for you and Aaron. Once we get settled in everything is going to fall into place."

"I know it will," she said unconvincingly.

"Come on, smile. Look around, it's everything you've always wanted. Cheer up."

"I can't," Morgan began to tear up. She wiped the trails swiftly from her eyes. "That's just it, I can't."

"Baby, don't cry," Jarrod said as he rubbed his wife's shoulders briskly.

Morgan pulled away, "No, Jarrod. I killed that kitten."

"Accidentally," her husband insisted.

"No, I saw it and I stepped on it with all of my weight," Morgan continued as she stepped away from Jarrod, "I meant to kill it, and not just because I hate cats," Morgan chuckled slightly through her tears." Jarrod silently eyed his wife with confusion. Morgan didn't want to say anymore, but the puzzled look on her husband's face begged for a reason as to why she willfully murdered a kitten. "I'm a horrible person, I think I imagined that it was Aaron." She immediately broke down hysterically the moment her son's name left her lips.

Jarrod embraced his wife tightly. "No Morgan, you didn't, you love Aaron. You're not like your mother. She was a horrible person and you are nothing like her and you never will be."

"I do, I do love Aaron. More than anything and I'd never hurt him ever. I just keep thinking how much easier my life was before.." Her words trailed off into more uncontrollable sobs.

"Honey, your still adjusting to motherhood. It changes your whole life, mine too. You had a baby, took time off from writing, we moved. You just have to readjust, but this is it, we're home." He looked into his wife's eyes and smiled.

"Yeah, we are. You're right, I need to just get into a routine. I'm going to take more time off from writing and get this placed in order, once everything is out of boxes.."

Her husband cut her off, "I'll call out and get everything organized."

"You don't have to."

Jarrod put his phone up to his ear, "Not another word, I'm phoning it in right now."

Morgan smiled, and it wasn't a smile that she forced, it was a smile that came easily. That smile lasted until she fell asleep, although she was fairly certain that she had smiled all through the night as well.

When she awoke she felt good, like a crushing weight had been lifted from her. By the end of the day, her home was complete as Jarrod had promised. Every knick knack, dish, book, and so on had found its place. The cable guy had even come to set up everything soup to nuts. They were unpacked, online, and on track. Morgan didn't even have to lift a finger. All that she did was spend the day with her son.

It was their best day ever, and she was sure that even when Aaron grew to adulthood, she would remember every precious second of that day. Every smile, every giggle, every snuggle, and even when he got a little fussy. Time stood still and peaceful and she thought even as someone would inevitably say to her one day, "they grow up so fast", she would always have that day in her heart, the day when she first felt like a good mother.

By the next morning, Morgan awoke to feel more optimistic than she had in months. Her and Jarrod even managed to spend a little alone time before Aaron woke up. Dad kissed his wife and child goodbye and went off to work. Morgan put Aaron in his playpen and hurried over to the window. She unlatched it and shimmied it open. She could see Jarrod walking down the sidewalk just then and she said, "I love you."

He stopped and looked up. "I love you, too."

Morgan smiled and waved him off. She decided to leave the window open for the breeze. The fire escape didn't worry her anymore because Jarrod had made sure that the ladder to the ground was secured in the upright position and clamped. She went back to pick up Aaron from his playpen, he was very sloppy from breakfast. He needed a bath. His mother gathered some of his favorite toys and they headed for the tub.

Downstairs in the unit below, 83 year old retired veterinarian Agnes Birchfield was tending to a new patient. The elderly woman  had seen the cat two days ago eating out of the dumpster in the alley and finally coaxed it into a carrier for a closer look. If her husband Harold were to find out, he'd have a fit. Agnes was waiting for Tuesday, he would be away then. He would be at the coffee shop visiting with a friend rattling off about old war stories, the stock market, and the collapse of civilization. His wife called it, "Tirade Tuesday". Agnes didn't see anything wrong with the tabby other than a slight limp. The leg didn't feel broke, but she couldn't be sure without an X-ray. Otherwise, the cat appeared to have no significant ailments but was in desperate need of a bath.

"Poor girl, you've had a rough life haven't you?" she said as she stroked her hand from head to tail of the animal.

Agnes heard the door handle of her apartment jiggle and panicked. Harold was home early and she had to get the cat out of the house. The fire escape, she thought quickly. The old woman loaded the cat back into the carrier and hurried to the window. She set the carrier on the floor and lifted the screen.

"Agnes?" her husband called out.

"I'll be right there," she anxiously assured him as she picked up the carrier, unlatched the cage door, and tilted the cat out onto the fire escape. She hastily ditched the carrier and threw her good shawl over it just seconds before her husband came to investigate.

"What are you doing?" he asked suspiciously.

"I was tidying up," she said as she grinned.

"Better not be feeding those damn strays," he warned.

"Oh no, never Harold," his wife quickly changed the subject, "Why are you home so soon?"

"Morton couldn't make it, come on and fix some eggs, I'm starving," he grumbled.

"Yes, go on and sit down. I'll be there in a minute." Agnes glanced out at the cat as she closed the screen and offered it well wishes, "Good luck girl."

Upstairs, Morgan had Aaron in the tub. She plugged the drain and began to fill the tub with lukewarm water. Aaron splashed playfully at the water and squealed.

"Want to play with the shark?" Morgan asked in a bubbly voice.

"Shuk, shuk," Aaron answered cheerfully.

Morgan looked around for the shark. "Oh, no mommy didn't bring it." Morgan checked the water and decided to make a run for the shark since it was just in the next room. "Mommy will be right back with sharky." She went quickly to where she kept the bath toys and raced back into the bathroom. Aaron was splashing at the water and happily babbling. Morgan paused to watch her son before she gave him the shark.

Aaron took the shark and splashed it in the water, "Cat, cat, cat," he chanted.

"That's not a cat silly, it's a shark," his mother laughed.

Just then Morgan heard the horrible wail. She turned to face it and was met by a force that caught her off balance. Morgan fell back and her head connected hard with the sink.

"All I can remember is waking up on the bathroom floor in a puddle of lukewarm water" She continued to scribble illegible lines on the writing tablet with her bleeding hands until the nurse came to sedate her.

 

 

 


Submitted: November 09, 2013

© Copyright 2021 Quay. All rights reserved.

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