“Can you still hear me?” the voice asked.
Floating in her pristine bubble of sadness, she could hear him perfectly well, and yet despite the nature of her predicament, she couldn’t quite bring herself to believe she was having a conversation with her neighbour’s cat. Or perhaps it was that as much as she secretly wished to be saved, she’d never have envisioned her knight in shining armour would be the tortoiseshell that had a habit of crapping in the vegetable patch in the gardens outside her apartment. She’d often seen him do it from her window. It had made her laugh.
Not so much now, though.
“Prudence? I don’t think we’ve got much time. Or should I say, I don’t think you’ve got much time.”
Not wanting to listen, she did her best to ignore his words, but she was beginning to feel distant. Somehow less here and more over there.
“I don’t know how this is happening,” she said, “but yes, I can hear you, although I’m not sure I like you calling me by my real name.”
“Very well”, George replied, “but considering the circumstances, it’s not something you should be worrying about.”
He was right, but stubborn as she was, she wasn’t about to give in.
“You can call me X” she responded. “I’ve seen what you get up to in that vegetable patch. Nobody else does their business there, only you, and I don’t think I want a cat who does that kind of thing being on first name terms with me.”
George was infinitely ashamed. He often went there to do his thing. He wasn’t sure why. Perhaps it was where he felt most comfortable? The other cats did it in the bushes, but there was something so relaxing about emptying his bowels surrounded by the tomatoes and cabbages that grew in abundance in the freshly turned soil. Whatever the reason, his shame was something he wouldn’t live down until the end of his living days. X could sense this shame and felt bad for him.
“Look, I tell you what, if you take me back with you, I’ll let you call me by my real name. I didn’t mean to be cruel; it’s just that—I’m feeling a little out of sorts today.”
George’s shame diminished somewhat.
“I thought you didn’t want to come back?” he purred.
“Well, I’ve changed my mind” she quipped.
The truth, however, was that X now realised just how silly she’d been. No, not silly, but downright stupid. By rights, she should be dead, but here she was, floating in space having a conversation with a cat named George. Either she’d been handed a reprieve, or the afterlife was not without a sense of humour.
“George?” she whispered.
“George—I’m scared, and I’m cold, and I want to go home.”