The Girl and the Window: Who’s the Stranger?

Posted: September 16, 2013 by writingsprint in The Girl and the Window
Tags: , , , ,

pet catWhen we last left the story…

The cat didn’t have an opinion, but it did seem to be curious over the stray on the other side of the window. Kerri smiled. She scratched at the window where she would normally rub the cat behind the ears. The tabby pawed at her fingers.

“So cute,” Kerri said. “Well, all right, Mr. Tabby. My name’s Kerri, and I hope we meet again sometime soon.”

Andrea walked out from the shadows between her kitchen and her living room. Kerri jumped so fast she almost fell over the fire escape’s railing. The cat went running. Andrea put her hands on her hips. “What the hell are you doing on my fire escape?” she asked.

Kerri said, “You didn’t return my call. Or answer your doorbell.”

“I didn’t want to talk to you.”

Kerri felt like Andrea had punched her in the belly. Normally she’d cry but she didn’t want to let her off the hook that easy. “I heard about the cat. I wanted to adopt her.”

“You said so on the phone.” Andrea shifted her weight from one foot to the other. The cat crept back halfway into the kitchen. It looked past Andrea to Kerri, through the window.

“Well?”

“Ah hell. You can’t just stand there. Someone’ll call the cops.” Andrea unlocked the window. As if she were talking to a vampire, she quickly added, “Come in.”

Kerri climbed in. The kitchen was a mess. Andrea used to be neat as a pin. Kerri looked at her. Andrea seemed to look at her face, not her eyes. Andrea turned away. She walked into the living room. Kerri knew the way. Cloth tapestries in the hallway, abstract art by her friends in the living room, plus a few family pictures. Kerri smelled incense, but not tobacco smoke. That was new. “You quit smoking?” Kerri asked.

“Yeah.” She waved to a package of Nicorette gum on the end table by her chair. Kerri found her way to the couch. When they watched TV, this was normally how they would sit, if they weren’t cuddling on the couch.

The cat walked over to the stranger, tail up, ears perked. Kerri put down her hand. The cat sniffed it, then rubbed its head against her hand.

“So, you two have met,” Andrea said.

“She’s a good conversationalist.” Kerri gently rubbed the cat behind the ears. The cat arched her back and rubbed against her jeans. Kerri missed Scrim.

“I miss Scrim,” Kerri said.

“Sorry,” Andrea said. Kerri snorted. “I mean it. You loved that old cat.”

The ratty old cat, Andrea had once said. Kerri let it go. “Thanks.” She kept petting the cat.

Andrea kept rubbing the back of her neck. Then she rubbed her hands together. It must have been the cigarette withdrawal. Kerri had never felt like the calm one. This was weird.

“Are you okay?” Kerri asked.

“You came here to ask about the cat.”

“Jeez. Fine. Can I have her?”

“I don’t know if I want to give it away any more.”

Kerri looked up. The cat did, too, which almost made Kerri laugh. Even the TV had gone to a dead air between commercials. The quiet in the room made Kerri’s ears ring.

“I’m just not sure. I’ve had it for a week, and I’m starting to get used to it.”

“That’s why you didn’t answer?”

“Yeah,” Andrea said. Kerri didn’t believe her. Andrea never a one-word answer to anything.

The cat walked between Kerri’s leg and the couch, like a scarf tied around her ankles. Kerri thought it was adorable. Kerri’s stomach boiled with tea from earlier in the night. Between her batgirl antics and this, she’d need an antacid to go to sleep.

Kerri stood. “All right. Well, I’m interested. Let me know when you make up your mind. I’ll… leave by the door this time.”

Andrea stood. She started as if she was going to give her a one-arm hug, like they did when they first broke up, then held the door open for her instead. Kerri nodded. She left the apartment. When the door closed behind her, she said, “What the hell already.”

What do you think of the story title? I’m not sold yet. Yea? Nay?

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