X was far from home. She was far from anywhere. The voice that called her name was a strange one. Not quite human, somehow. She wanted to keep going, but something made her stop. Turning around, she gazed at the stars that shone in every direction. There was no one there, but again the voice.
Searching the ocean of stars, she saw no signs of life and was about to move away when the voice came back even louder.
She’d only ever allowed two people to call her by her real name. One was her father, and the other was him– he who had broken her heart. Picturing his face, she cursed him. Cursed his name and wished she had never set eyes upon him in the first place, and yet if she were to speak a truth, she still loved him to her bones. Probably now more than ever, for although she wished to be with her father, in her heart of hearts, she was still very much in love with life despite what she’d done to find herself in such a peculiar predicament.
“Who are you?”
There was no answer.
All at once she was scared. So scared that she wanted to curl into a ball, but without a body, there was no place to hide. She was as naked as the stars that pierced her soul. She couldn’t even close her eyes. She was everywhere and nowhere at the same time, and yet here, there was no such thing as time, for all things existed on a plain that was unchained to the hand of man. Thrashing around, she was in the act of trying to get away when the voice returned, this time clearer, more focused.
“Prudence? Where are you?”
If she didn’t know any better, she would’ve sworn on the Bible that the voice wasn’t human. It sounded, animal? She had no idea as to what an animal’s voice sounded like, and yet she was sure it sounded like this. Turning to face where the voice had come from, she again saw nothing and yet felt as though one of the stars gazing back at her was her own, familiar sun. Floating there as if she were treading water, she concentrated hard before responding. She was to find that speaking with her mind and not her mouth was quite the task, although it must be said it was the least of her worries.
“Who’s calling me?” she asked. “You’re not my father, and you’re not the swine that broke my heart, and those are the only two people I’ve ever allowed to call me by that name, so either you tell me who you are or I’ll turn my back and keep going.” The last bit was a lie, of course, but she thought she sounded quite convincing considering the circumstances.
What followed was more silence and then a strange purring sound that echoed and reverberated all around her. It continued until the voice washed over her like a kiss.
“It’s me, George.”
“George who?” she demanded.
Again, the purring followed by the response.
“George, the tortoiseshell cat from apartment 19. Brother of Bertie, and many others, for that matter.”
On hearing this, X’s perplexed frown, if she’d had one, would’ve stretched from ear to ear and back again.