And so the ritual begins. Small humans roam the streets, all hyped up on the kinds of treats that big humans typically ration for the purpose of bribery. Humiliating outfits are abound, comprised of old rags, plastic sacks, enormous white sheets, obnoxiously large, wide-brimmed hats, and an array of peculiar masks which make humans look a smidgeon uglier than they already are. Vegetables are carved to look like ghoulish grinning faces and plonked outside doorways and in windows to give us poor felines a fright as we go about our night-time exploits. (Felines other than myself, of course. Nothing frightens me, I can assure you.) Then there’s all the noise — the yells and screams and cries from humans of all sizes, even the ones large enough and old enough to know better. …
My mother always said that cats choose their owners. I always said that my mother talked a lot of old shite.
It wasn’t just when she was old that she talked nonsense. It started when I was young. Scratch that; it probably started when she was young. She insisted that eating my crusts would make my hair curl, but I ended up begging for a perm by the time I was fourteen because all the sodding crusts in the world wouldn’t put a single kink in my limp locks. She said apples were as good as toothpaste for brushing our pegs, but that theory was disproved when our Mark insisted on eating two apples a day instead of using a toothbrush and spent more time in the dentist’s office than he did in school. …
There was certainly a sickening thud as my body made contact with the car bonnet. But actually, other than those final few seconds before everything went black, the last day of my life was unbearably dull.
I ate a cheese and pickle sandwich for lunch. Cheese and bloody pickle, couldn’t be more boring. Even the car accident was a cliché; I was lost in thought when I stepped out into the road. Forgot to check for traffic. And those thoughts weren’t about anything interesting. I was wondering whether I should order ham and pineapple or pepperoni pizza for my dinner.
But the bit that happened directly after my death was significantly more interesting. …
It was that fox again — the one with the limp. It stared in through the patio doors, swaying a little from side to side as if on the verge of collapse, brown stains running from eyes to muzzle like tears. I wanted to let it into the warmth, or at the very east to throw it some scraps from the kitchen. But I couldn’t. That’s how they got you, if the news stories were to be believed. And I believed them.
I pictured the poor thing limping across field after field, squirming through hedgerow after hedgerow, desperately searching for food despite its twisted limb. It had left its babies back home in its den, small and pink and blind and growing skinnier by the hour, bleating forlornly for milk. Milk that would only flow if their mother could eat. And she hadn’t eaten for days. I could see it in her eyes while she stood there gazing at me through the patio doors, a silent communication from one mother to another. …
Little Timmy sat at the kitchen table with his head in his hands, his tears blotting the ink of the homework that tortured him.
“Oh ‘eck, lad,” said Grandpa. “Wotsmatter?”
“My homework,” whimpered Timmy. “I can’t do it. I need help with my 3 times tables.”
“Times tables, ey? Ba gum, that does sound ‘ard for a bairn like you. Only seven, aren’t you lad? I ‘ad trouble at school at your age an’ all. Tell ya what-you go up to bed and I’ll sort this out for you. Don’t tell t’teachers, mind. …
It’s a yellow sticky note today. Blue ink. Just the one line: “Your hair is shit and so are you.”
Bit lacklustre. Not witty, not clever, not even particularly brutal. Perhaps the culprit’s losing his knack. After all, this is sticky note number 398. They’re bound to run out of insults to throw at me eventually. They can’t all be fierce doozies like number 187 (“Mr. Blobby called. He wants his body back.”) or number 249 (“Do something for the greater good. Kill yourself.”). They’ll probably stop soon.
Mind you, that’s what I said to myself with sticky note number 28 (“Roses are red, Violets are blue. Wish you were dead, But that’s nothing new.”). That was back when it was still a novelty to find an anonymous insult scribbled on a sticky note and stuck to my desk every morning. They didn’t stop then and they probably won’t stop now. Not until the day comes that I discover who it is and confront them. …
I put my hand on Dad’s arm and get close to his face and I think, God, he looks old. He looks like Grandad.
His skin is too thin. Not papery — not that frail— but like the corners of a paperback that have been crumpled up and smoothed out one time too many. Each crease seems to be etched deeper than it was just twenty minutes ago. When the blood was still going round.
Maybe nothing has changed at all. I mean, when did I last look at his face like this? Taking in every freckle and every clogged pore as if they’re the brushstrokes of a painting I hope never to forget. …
Raindrops tippity-tap on a flat roof; cold, wet fingertips searching for weakness. Listen for clues — there’s hollowness here, firmness there, and soon a splish-splish-splish… a divot in which the troops assemble.
Asphalt sags as the raindrops puddle and the roof’s cracks and flaws begin to surrender. How could they put up a fight against the unrelenting grey cloud above?
And soon that grey cloud is revealed through a ragged cavity to disbelieving, sleep-addled eyes.
“There’s a bloody hole in my roof,” comes the dumb cry.
Still the raindrops tippity-tap, and if you listen closely their rhythm sounds like laughter.
Thanks for reading. Fancy another?
Are you a dog person? Do cats freak you out? Do you see the tiny face and giant eyes of a feline and feel a shudder run through you, as though you’ve gazed directly into the soul of the devil himself?
I used to be like you. A bite from a cat — a cat that had been purring beneath the gentle touch of my fingertips only seconds before it turned on me — put me securely in the ‘I Love Dogs’ camp when I was just eight years old. But now, twenty years on, I can say with hand on heart that I am both a dog and a cat person. …
Wake up in the morning feeling like I’m dizzy
Grab my dog I’m out the door ‘cos she needs to get busy
Before I leave, grab my coat and a big woolly hat
‘Cos when I peer out the door I know I’ll freeze in that
I’m talking icicles from my nose, nose
Wearing five layers of clothes, clothes
Cheeks got a bright red glow, glow
Skip-hopping while dog tugs on her lead, lead
Rollin’ up at the park scene
Tryin’ to get a little bit cosy
Can’t stop, gotta walk, I ain’t got the time to talk
Is this right? Looks like night, ‘cos there ain’t no sunlight
Tick-tock, let’s get back, ‘cos I want some coffee, black, now
Oh, woah-oh, oh…