Chapter 1:

The Cat

The Cat

For the third time today, it lay across my keyboard.

Stop doing this please - I can’t type if you’re in the way.

It protested, again, but I hoped it’d give up for good this time.

With a weary sigh, I recalled why I had now had this tiny beast thrust upon me.

A week ago, a friend of mine suddenly called me to ask for a massive favour; he was going to be away on a business trip for a month and had no one who could look after his pet cat, and begged me to take care of it. A small black cat with white feet and a white nose, a cute animal no doubt, but one that I was not fully prepared to deal with.

He dropped her off with her bed, her favourite toys and money for food, and thanked me profusely for the favour. Then, he left me alone with it; looking back, I’m starting to wish I’d turned him down.

If you asked me if I preferred dogs or cats, I’d definitely say the latter, but that’s at a café or around a friend’s, not in my home. Not where it can meow loudly at whatever time of day whenever it wants something, not where it can scratch my walls or table legs, and definitely not when it decides to loaf itself across my work laptop.

I understand that it likes warm places, but I wish it’d try using other places instead, like its bed or the blankets I bought especially for it. Sadly, it prefers human company. It throws disgusting hairballs up, it needs grooming, and made its dislike of it clear by scratching up my face, and it lies on my stomach or face when I’m asleep.

Honestly, why do people bother keeping pets?

They’re expensive, annoying and die long before you do, leaving you with nothing but bittersweet memories and a hole in your heart that will never fill. I don’t remember who said it, but someone once joked that pets died before their owners because Thanatos loved them more than humans, so much so that they shortened their lifespans to basically zero.

What a load of crap.

Eros, Thanatos, life, death - what’s the point in worrying about all of that when you have bills to pay and deadlines to meet?

Ever since I left high school, life consisted of the same loop again and again.

Sleep, eat, work, eat, shower, relax, stress, sleep.

Again and again with no breaks, normally at least.

Sometimes, you might have a free evening to spend with friends, or they might be busy. Other times, you might have a date only for them not to show. Then, there are the times you find yourself spending whatever money you earnt on things you don’t need or want, wondering if the brief high you feel is worth it.

Maybe that’s what people ruled by Eros feel every day.

Not that I would know - if you asked me, I guess I was more ruled by Thanatos, but I don’t know.

All I truly know is that I have no reason to be alive.

I work to live, but not for anything more than that.

I don’t save for holidays or spend time with someone special. I don’t even visit my family that often; There’s no time and it’s too expensive.

Honestly, what’s the point?

Why not just jump? The bridge I pass every day to work seems to ask me.

It’s not painful to be alive, but it does feel meaningless some days.

There are billions of humans on this planet; what value do I offer?

Well, if nothing else, I’ve got another creature’s life in my hands, so there’s that. Hmmm, maybe that’s why people get pets.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I started looking forward to coming home a bit more ever since that little adorable beast entered my life.

It’s quite cute hearing it running for the door, meowing, as I let myself in; then, it walks up to me, rubs itself against my leg and brushes me with its tail. I greet it, it returns the greeting three times over, I feed it and then I play with it a bit.

When I sit to watch TV, it loafs upon my lap, and I stroke it as it purrs. I suddenly found myself curious about the cat on my lap, so I started asking it questions it couldn’t answer.

Why do you like to loaf?

Do house cats really long for the outdoors like other cats?

Where does a cat’s purr come from?

That last question had quite an interesting answer and-oh, it started playfully nibbling my fingers when I stopped stroking it.

Sorry, sorry, let me get right back on that.

Ah, you like that, don’t you?

Good girl…well, at least I can make you happy.

Oh dear, it seems Thanatos hasn’t loosened their grip on me.

Reality grabbed me just after I left it, forcing me back in.

This cat would be leaving me in just one week.

In retrospect, the time I spent with her was relatively miniscule.

A month.

I’d stopped texting friends I’d known for years.

I’d had relationships that lasted for what felt like forever.

I’d spent more time at work without a holiday or a proper night’s sleep.

Eros - those who are ruled by the desire for life.

Thanatos - those who are ruled by the desire for death.

Maybe Thanatos isn’t death but nothingness, numbness, a place that you don’t have to feel anything in or worry about anything.

No deadlines, no overtime, no lonely nights with instant ramen to fill your stomach.

No never-ending loops to play out for every day of your life.

Just nothing.

Maybe that’s why an old friend of mine jumped that day.

Thanatos’s temptation is just too strong to ignore.

Maybe-oh, sorry…I stopped stroking you again.

Here, look, it’s your favourite toy - you always love trying to hit this.

Hehe, you look so stupid doing that…you never get bored of your day, do you?


Isn’t it the same for you?

Sleep, eat, wait, play, eat, relax, sleep.

I wonder if you have a greater desire for life than me.

A month passed before I knew it.

My friend thanked me and paid me extra money, which I tried to refuse but he insisted.

Truth be told, I’d hoped he’d stay for longer or ask me to sit her again, but he said he’d reached an agreement with the company where he’d never leave her alone for too long again.

That’s good, I lied.

A sad meow answered my lonely goodbye; I waved right until I could no longer see her, and then I felt the gap in my heart I knew I would.

It’d just been a month, but it’d been a month I enjoyed just a little bit more than the rest.

When I stepped back into my apartment, it seemed bigger, emptier.

I looked for signs that she was still here, the scratches on the walls, the fur I hadn’t had the time to clean up, and the places where she used to loaf.

Loaf - I laughed, cats loafing was something I’d always found cute and the word itself was kind of silly.

Silly…what’s silly is how sad I feel after saying goodbye to an animal I knew for a month.

I went onto my laptop and opened the files I needed to finish for tomorrow morning.

Then, I stopped myself.

With a small smile, I opened my browser and started searching for something I’d never considered before.

I wonder how easy it’ll be to adopt a cat.

The Cat

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