Short Stories: Nine Lives

Hi everyone!

As promised, I’ve decided to be very, very brave and post some of my own writing. It’s just going to be some short stories for now, but hopefully it will help me to build my confidence and practice my writing routine.

Any and all comments and critiques are welcome (but please be gentle), and I hope you enjoy!

Nine Lives

My Nan owned a cat named Socks ever since she was a child. Mom was always careful to remind us that Nan had actually owned eight cats throughout her life and just given each one the same name.

She never challenged it, but every time Mom finished her lecture, Nan would look over at me with a smile and whisper, “They may not look the same, but there’s only ever been one Socks.”

The first time, Nan found a kitten abandoned by the side of the road: a brown calico with white fur on all four paws. She’d named her Socks for her tiny white feet, and snuck her home, brushing the dirt from her fur, and letting her sleep in a pocket of space against her chest each night to keep her safe and warm. To hear Nan tell it, they’d been together ever since.

“We’d just arrived in town that year, and there was no one for me to play with,” Nan had told me as she slowly stroked Socks (the eighth) in her lap. “That’s why she found me; I think. We both needed each other. Right, love?”

Socks had simply yawned and curled herself into a cozy ball, as only cats can.

When the first Socks eventually passed, Nan had sworn she would never get another cat. Socks was her best friend, and no one would ever replace her. Years later, when a second cat appeared at her door, Nan had every intention of keeping that promise. She couldn’t leave the poor thing outside however, so she’d let her in and fed her and made plans to contact a shelter in the morning.

But that night, the cat had hopped onto Nan’s bed, folded itself into the pocket of space against her chest, and purred softly until they’d both drifted off to sleep.

“She knew I still needed her,” Nan had explained with a smile, “so she came back to me.”

And she kept coming back. Once she’d been a small ginger tabby, another time she’d been charcoal back with a crooked nose, and one time she’d been pure white with blue eyes, and the longest, bushiest tail. All of them were different, but they’d all been Socks.

By the time the eighth Socks had passed, I’d stopped believing Nan’s claims, though I never told her so. When she joyfully took in a little stray calico, I just smiled and gave Socks the ninth a gentle scratch beneath her chin. It was sweet, and it made Nan happy, thinking that her best friend had used all her nine lives to stay by her side.

And then it happened. Nan hadn’t noticed the front door was left open, and Socks darted out into the yard. The neighbour’s dogs had startled her, and she’d fled onto the street. She never saw the car.

The vet said she didn’t feel the impact; she wouldn’t have felt any pain at all. It didn’t matter, Nan was shattered. Socks was truly gone now; she had no more lives to share.

For months, Nan lived under a shadow and her health, already failing, quickly declined. I started staying overnight to help and to keep her company. We all knew it was close to the end, and I didn’t want Nan to be alone.

That night, there was a heavy storm, and I’d just settled Nan into bed when I heard something scratching at the door. It was faint at first, then grew more insistent, until I could hear it clearly over the pounding rain.

When I opened the door to check, something wet brushed against my leg.

I searched the house, but I couldn’t find anything. I’d almost convinced myself I’d imagined the whole thing, until I saw that the door to Nan’s room was wide open, and a little puddle of rainwater had formed outside the threshold.

When I peered into the room, dimly illuminated from the hallway light, all I could see was the shape of my Nan, tucked beneath her blankets, breathing steadily, softly, and deeply as she dreamed. But beneath that was something else, something that felt familiar, although I couldn’t quite be sure. It almost sounded like a rumbling purr.

By morning the rain had stopped, and Nan was gone. She lay still, with her arm curled gently around a pocket of space at her chest.  The blanket there was warm and wet. And it smelled like the rain.

Thank you for reading! You can check out more of my blog posts below.

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