Cat in the Toilet (Fiction Short Story)

It’s hard for me to pinpoint when exactly this story idea came into my mind, but I was actually attempting to create a joke story as a web comic. As such, much of the general premise is pretty ridiculous, and it’s one of the few stories that doesn’t take itself seriously.

I first wrote this in order to test out the general gist of it, to see if the setting worked and if there were things that didn’t make sense. This piece highlighted several problems to me, and since then the characterisation, relationships, and the goals of each character has changed and even expanded.

In any case, this is the second story I wrote which features animals (the first being that of an unreleased visual novel that’s still in its editing stages), but the first to feature animal-human interaction prominently. Both of my animal stories have similar themes, but Kitty here is a much more cynical character than any other animals I’ve written.

Currently, the web comic itself has been left in a state of limbo due to my inability to produce the first chapter in full. I’m still working on it, since I love this story so much, but it is currently inactive.

Hemingway Test:
Readability — 7th Grade
Est. Reading Time — 00:10:27

— -

My name is Kitty, I am a cat, and I live in Woodfield Secondary School. Yes, I know it’s a strange place to be, but the details that led up to my being here is the exact replica of a third-rate animal-feature drama so I highly doubt that you would want to hear it.

I have been in Woodfield for several years now. Kids that I’ve seen coming in on their first day have long graduated, and parts of the school had changed so much it seems as though the building had relocated itself elsewhere. I understand that, while most children enjoy my presence (“A cat! A cat!”; oh, how they jump) most adults find me a pest, and I have to spend most of my day leaping between their blind spots.

One of the few adults that actually like me is an old lady who works cleaning the school. She always wears clothes with pictures of flowers on them, so I call her Flower. Flower was the reason I found haven in the toilets, where I often spend the nights. (Classrooms are always locked, so I don’t really have a choice.) She placed large black boxes under the sink of every toilet, where she stores her cleaning materials; but behind the box is space enough for a cat to hide and sleep in, so the toilets ended up being the best hiding spots for me.

For quite a few years I spent my time in the boys’ toilet beside the teachers’ office. It’s tightly snugged in this narrow little corner like a deep niche or alleyway, which meant that the cold night winds rarely find their way into it. Even for a toilet it was quite unpopular with the kids, so most of the time I entertained myself by watching the teachers instead.

Now, I had wandered into toilets several times before, but staying at one turned out to be a whole different deal. There’s the unfortunate thing about humans and their wastes, for one. I understand that we animals may be ‘disgusting’ for choosing to do our business in places humans may tread on, but at least we are feeding the earth. Heck, humans even collect animal wastes for their own little gardens. That’s the whole circle of life idea, no? Yet for some reason humans are satisfied dumping their wastes down a hole, without even checking where it goes. I heard some say that it goes to the ocean. That is not how the circle of life goes, people. You made me avoid fish for a year!

Now, it wasn’t like staying in that toilet was all that bad. Despite the often stench or sudden tsunamis across the floor (Flower’s vicious when it comes to her work), I actually enjoyed my time there. Though, of course, since I’m using past tense now it’s obvious I had moved.

No, it’s not because I had enough of how humans flush their wastes into the ocean. Poor fishes, yes, but such disgust won’t last long in a world ruled by humans. Something like human’s logic (or lack of it) is practically law. (“Who cares what a tiny animal thinks? As though they even think!”) Spend enough time and you’ll grow immune.

What actually happened was the appearance of this unfortunate human. I think it was two human years ago? This man had (indirectly) forced me to change my sleeping spot. But who could blame him really? Everyone has bowel problems, so it was just unlucky that he was cursed with explosive diarrhoea every morning. He would leave behind a stinky vortex of dark mass that required three flushes before it would go (poor fishes!), but the smell always lingered so I had to find another place to spend my nights. My first spot was the girls’ toilet just adjacent to it, and in it once in a while I could still hear Flower mumble about Bowel’s deed. Was it getting worse? I honestly didn’t want to know.

One morning the school had a fire drill, and in the midst of the confusion Bowels had perhaps forgotten to clean up his business. After everything calmed down the principal (I call him Baldy) went into the toilet, and his scream rattled the hallway much worse than any fire alarm.

After that, neither Flower nor I smelt Bowels again. He must have either moved his business elsewhere or changed jobs out of embarrassment.

Shortly after, I moved into a girls’ toilet on the other end of the school. It was a lot rowdier than the boys’ toilet from before, and for some reason the younger girls spend more time in the toilet doing up their appearances than doing their businesses. I found it entertaining to watch. What was even funnier was how they all screamed whenever I meowed. Is overreaction a side-effect of girls in puberty? Whatever the case, I stayed hidden behind the box and was always out of sight, so it was fun to see them panic as they tried to find me.

Of course, spending too much time in that small stuffy place wasn’t always fun. When classes start the toilets would be abandoned in unison, and I would find myself with nothing to observe, nothing to do. On some days I would just pace around the edge of the buildings, watching kids in PE classes playing outdoor games; on most other days I head out of the school to find Almond.

Almond is a large blond dog I met a long time ago, after I began living in the school. I had gone out to look for Blythe one last time, but found Almond instead. He’s a strange dog that always has this bright orange vest on him, and he’s never more than a metre away from the human boy named Jacky. Jacky is deaf, that much is clear, though why Almond is obligated to be there for him even when he isn’t a pet is something I can’t understand (he’s certainly working himself with only food as his reward). But Almond loves Jacky so much he might as well have been his pet after all, though Almond, with his ridiculous pride, refuses to be called one.

Jacky was still a young child when Almond and I first met, though now the boy’s height has grown beyond Almond’s length. He has just started his first year at Waterbank Secondary, another school a few blocks away from Woodfield, and due to Almond’s ‘non-pet’ status he’s allowed to be with Jacky during school time. I would slip in during the more idle hours, and Almond would walk me about the corridor where Jacky’s class is. He never heads anywhere beyond that corridor unless Jacky comes along, and I have long since tire of making him think otherwise.

On most of my visits Almond would be sitting outside the classroom, his blond bushy tail sweeping the ground behind him. We would talk about anything, anything at all: my observations of the multitude of ways girls fold their skirts, the violent and almost murderous ways children play ball games, the kind of chit-chat and gossip teachers share in their office; Almond with daily adventures of pedestrians avoiding him like a plague, the difficulty of him riding public transport, and how he hated the way actual pets ran about making noises in public. “No wonder animals are banned everywhere!” he would exclaim.

Most of the time he would share his views about the ‘educated illiterate’, a term for humans who obviously had some level of education but still fail to see the label on his vest that said he is, for the love of the universe, not a pet. He can barely count the number of times he was banned from restaurants and public spaces and how Jacky had to, with his obvious impairment, convince them of Almond’s necessary presence yet failing sometimes. Of course Jacky had learned to work around it, but how easy can it be for a young child to adapt to a world that rejects him for being himself?

“Sometimes I think it’s better if I was never here.”

On his worse days Almond would utter those words. It is a rare occurrence but is always consistent, and being myself I would give a different reply each time, hoping for various reactions.

“How about you try it for one day?”

“Aww. If you lick his feet, you’ll rethink that I’m sure.”

“Jacky will cry, you know. That poor kid.”

“Cheh. Don’t be such a wuss.”

But consistent it truly is, and my replies never get a different response. All Almond would do is lie his head down on his front legs, and close his eyes. Then, in that unfortunate silence, I can only wait for him to regain his energy.

The same thing happened a week ago. I never got the details, but apparently Jacky had tried to make friends but failed because Almond, big as he was, was disallowed from McD*nalds. Jacky’s new friends had picked a fuss about it with an employee, but Jacky gestured to say that it was okay, and left with Almond in tow.

When Almond finished his story, lowered his head and let the silence overcome us, I watched bright red leaves fall from a nearby tree, drifting shakily from the long branches. It was a common sight all around due to the humidity, but for some reason the sight reminded me of brief cold days that lingered in the back of my memory.

In the midst of that Almond jerked up. He gazed at me with his large brown eyes that reflected my figure with a distortedness I could never really make sense of.

“I could do better if you were around,” he said, his lips curling higher as his tongue dropped from a crack between them. “You’re smaller, more nimble. You could help Jacky in my place.”

“Oh please no. Don’t dump your work on me.”

“No, I’m serious. I really think it would work. And you won’t have to wait at that school anymore.”

A wind blew, and more of the leaves gave way, raining down. It blew them beyond the scarce grass beneath and onto the concrete ground a distance away. Red upon grey, like drops of blood upon asphalt.

“I’m not waiting for anyone,” I said.

Almond’s tongue retracted itself as he turned his head away. His ears twitched a little at my words, and the curl on his lips fell away without a sound.

“That’s good to hear,” he said.

Our conversation ended, and I left for Woodfield before the bell rang. I returned to Woodfield just as classes ended, and the children flooded the canteen, the fields and the toilets. They exchanged conversations about the essay they had just gotten back, about the detestable teacher that preferred one out of the many, about the classes they were going to have tomorrow and how dreadful another school day would be. By the time the sun set they had cleared out, and without anything else to observe I lingered by the fields to find new entertainment. That day as usual, as the sun vanished down a reddening sky, Gwen appeared with a can of cat food in hand.

Gwen works as a teacher in the school, but due to the nature of her work can only find me after school hours. The cat food she brings is the same Blythe had, the one with a kitten standing at one side of the cover and the brand’s red and orange logo drawn on the other. Gwen would have warmed it up in the oven in her office, and as I ate would tell me about all her grievances that day. Humans like to do that with animals, I realise, but Gwen’s stories are always interesting. Still single in her 30s, she has grown desperate about her non-existent love life and is always looking for blind dates and match-makers in hopes of finding her soul mate.

She is, in the usual pet terminology, ‘my human’, but since I live my life mostly independent of her I figure our relationship is quite different from that.

Gwen had grown plenty since the first time I met her. She was still a child then, dressed in a set of stiff uniform, her long hair not yet permed, tied up in a ‘ponytail’, and her voice much higher than it is now. She always walked with a straight back, as though anticipating a bullet to smash into it, looking forwards and never back at me, as her hand wound itself tightly around Blythe’s. Blythe, her height reaching only Gwen’s shoulders, would look back and wave, her white teeth showing from the gap between her curving lips.

At that time I had someone, and I hid in the darkness in the corridors every night, waiting. The night breeze was freezing, but comforted by my anticipation and convinced in its fulfilment, I fell asleep easy. In the morning, just as the sun’s rays shone through the horizon, Blythe would appear with cat food in hand. She had no oven so it was often cold, but I ate it all the same. And she would pat my head, talk about the things she liked, ask about what I liked, and when the other children appeared she would dash off, promising to find me again after school.

I had someone then. I liked that. When I peeked from the corners of the buildings, saw the mass of children and realised that one of those was mine and mine alone, it filled me with a joy I never knew I could feel. Perhaps like how Jacky is to Almond. Like how humans are to pets.

Just yesterday, as I left Woodfield to find Almond, I saw a teacher place a flower by the road before the school gates. It was a busy road, and the cars went by so fast that I doubt any of them would have noticed him. So I went up to him and meowed gently, as I always did whenever I hid in the toilets. The man smiled, and gave my head a soft rub.

“You miss her too, don’t you?” he said.

I meowed.

“I miss her too.”

A month after her graduation, while on her way to visit her alma mater, Blythe was hit by a car as it sped through a red light. Only a few witnessed as her body collapsed on the asphalt. Her cream coloured bag was dragged under the culprit’s car, forcing it to stop as it jammed itself in its wheel. When the police dug out the bag, what they found amongst the handmade cards and presents were cans of cat food: dirtied, crushed, with splatters of blood.

I had often wondered how it had happened, and how she had looked the moment she was hit. They said she was in a pastel blue blouse and white shorts. What’s pastel blue? Is it the same blue as the sky? They said she flew when the car hit. I imagine the splattering blood nothing more than red petals, dancing in the wind while guiding her along. What about her body? It would have floated in mid-air, lingering in the embrace of the sky, the blue of her blouse blending into the vastness, before wings would sprout from her figure and lift her off to a place beyond all logical comprehension. Or perhaps there was some place that carried off people like her, proven through some mumble-jumble of ideals and musings written by the law of humanity’s logic.

But, well, I guess that’s alright.

Cat in the Toilet :: END ::

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