there was a slight knock on my door, the knob half turned before she realized it was never really shut in the first place. i remember that she was holding her hands together, above her chest as if she was trying to hold onto something invisible. her round face sobbed as she choked out the words:
there's only a few times in a person's life where words cannot be misinterpreted. there's only a few scenarios in which a sentence is wholeheartedly discerned. in these moments, there is no room for error. my legs were further ahead of my body as i tumbled down the stairs. halfway down the landing they came to a halt. someone was standing there, their arms extended.
"did you fucking run over my cat?"
there was no time for any pleasantries.
three years earlier this woman and i were in a relationship. she cheated on me and i found out during a pregnancy scare; i am infertile. shortly after, she tried to kill herself in my bedroom. we go way back.
offended, her arms retreated and she breathed a foul "no."
she had 'apparently' been driving home when she saw ben in the road. knowing we live on x road, she stopped by to be the bearer of destructive news.
they already moved him off the street. i was told to get the shovel.
we do not own a shovel, we own a small snow shovel as blue as the night sky.
when ben was only a couple months old he would lick my nose and fall asleep on my chest. i had a friend in high school, who would hold him and rock him to sleep as if he were an infant. ben never meowed much, although he spoke in chirps when he really wanted outside. as he grew up, he walked on the wild side, so to speak. he loved to hide in bushes and jump out at you, to get in scraps with other cats, and to chase birds. if he chose your bed to nap in, he acted as if he were ruler of the world, somehow managing to stretch his stout body across an entire king sized mattress. he was a mackerel tabby with the most untamed, loving green eyes. he once caught his tail in a cop car - he wanted to feel the a/c on his fur - and had a kink in the tip of it. despite being a mostly outdoor cat, he always smelled like fresh pine and lavender. he wasn't just a confidant, he was like a co-dependent, rebellious son to me. ben refused to drink water from a dish, he loved the water from the bathtub, so naturally i'd leave it running for him. sometimes at night, he would only go for a sip if i went with him, and stood in the room for the entire duration. he loved to hide in the couch too. not behind it, in the sofa. probably just to claw at your feet while you watched tv. he loved to bite ankles as well. all in good fun i suppose.
i want to remember the virtuous things. although, i suppose that is a general disposition; i digress.
rigor mortis hadn't even started to set when I picked him up. his red tongue protruded from his mouth, blood dripping on the pavement as i carried him across the street. as i held him, it felt as if he was going to slip out from under my arms. aside from a neck wound, and i suppose some sort of back end wound, i was worried that he was still alive at first. i expected him to just start squirming and jump out from my arms at any second. no, ben's lifeless body hung in the silence of the unusually desolate street. i remember worrying that the lacerations to his neck were so deep, his head would just smash into the pavement.
as i set him down on the damp lawn, i set off to grab the poor excuse for a shovel.
i remember making a comment to the air about how we should take him to where we used to live - where he grew up, and bury him in the backyard there. it replied, reminding me of the new owners.
it took me the better part of an hour to dig the hole. compact and rocky, the dirt became more moist the lower i dug. it wasn't anything near six feet deep, but it was a considerable drop. my brother placed him in the ground. i haphazardly entered the house in search of a packet of wild flowers.
"i wish things were better for you, and us."
we took a moment of silence before i entombed the body. everyone stood around as i lamented and ladled the soil over his extremities. digging a grave, or generally speaking, a hole, always takes longer than it does to fill it. i wish i could end this on a philosophical note, or even say anything profound about death but i don't think i'm able to. i buried not only my best friend, but my feline son, barely four hours ago. my eyes hurt from crying and i'm in disbelief that i'll never get to rub his furry beer-belly again. considering the busy street we live on and the innate curiosity of the cat, it's a shock he even made it that far. who knows, maybe my ex-girlfriend killed my cat. if she ever admits to that, that's proof that god exists. the fucking cherry on the shit-cake of my relationship with her. this isn't about her, though.
this is about about resilience and grief
and later today, i will go and water his grave in hopes that the wild flower seeds i scattered will grow.