I was part of this wonderful anthology and would love to share it with you.
“Outcast and Other Words” is an online community anthology of poetry and short fiction written in response to a year’s worth of weekly writing prompts. It’s a celebration of words, of creative writing and inspiration.
Izzy didn’t believe in luck, until that cat crossed her path.
She had always been certain that events in her life were the direct result of her own decision making and efforts.
But that cat. That damned cat.
It changed everything.
Izzy had always been in control. Self-assured. Confident. She was a fortress, impenetrable and locked up tight. She didn’t let anyone or anything in, and she didn’t want to.
Which was what was so annoying about the whole situation. In one split second this cat had undermined everything she’d worked for. Just like that.
She glanced resentfully at the small obsidian mass of fur, contentedly purring on the passenger seat of her car. He didn’t even seem to realise, nor care, that he’d had such a close call. Nine lives down to eight now.
Her eyes darted back to the road again, as she gripped the steering wheel tensely. No, no, no, her subconscious chanted.
Only a couple more blocks, she reasoned. Then this would be someone else’s problem.
She whirled her vehicle into the drive of the animal shelter, breathing a sigh of relief a she flipped off the engine.
“Right hairball,” she stated firmly to the cat, “time to go.” She unbuckled her seatbelt and reached over to grab him.
She gently lifted his warm, silky body. He really was very cute. Maybe…
Nope! she thought. Let’s go.
She snuggled the cat close to her chest, lifting the flap of her jacket over the top to keep him warm. After all, it was cold out.
Izzy crunched her way up the gravel pathway, trying to determine where the entrance was. She stepped up onto the verandah and tried the first door.
She wandered slowly along to the next. “Welcome to the RSPCA” she read on the small plaque.
Ahh, she sighed. Here we go. She pulled the handle but was met with more resistance. It too, was locked.
She swore under her breath as she took in the sign, “Opening Hours 7:30 – 5pm”.
Flicking her wrist, Izzy observed the time 5:07pm on her watch. Seriously?! she thought.
She pondered what to do next. Maybe, she could just leave him on the doorstep? No, that wouldn’t work – he’d just wander off; maybe back onto the road again. Was there an after hours number to call? Her eyes scoured the colourful signage for more information, but to no avail.
“Looks like you’re out of luck bud,” she said to the cat.
He looked up at her with his spooky yellow eyes, challenging her otherwise.
“Well you can’t come with me!” she objected.
The cat opened his mouth, and yawned.
At this, she laughed.
“Honestly, you don’t want me to be in charge here.”
But the cat’s gaze was unwavering.
“I look after myself, not others. It’s not personal, it’s just how I am,” she babbled.
The cat blinked.
She was beginning to see, there was no point arguing.
“Well, I guess, if it’s only for one night,” she conceded.
At that, the cat snuggled back into her chest and began to purr. Mission accomplished, he seemed to be saying.
Izzy’s heart melted and knew right then, that that cat wouldn’t be going anywhere. He was undeniably, all hers.
It was Lucky indeed, who showed Izzy what she didn’t even know she was missing.
August approached in a golden sweltering haze. The customary way she entered a room, really.
Her hair fanned out around her shoulders as she sped across the floor. The glower in her speckled hazel eyes alerted me, this was not a social visit.
Drawing a deep breath, I forced a smile and said, “My darling! What a surprise, and delight.”
“Oh cut the crap,’ August retorted.
“Why, now. There’s no need for hostility August,” I crooned.
“Spare me the platitudes,” she scoffed. “I’m not in the mood.”
“Yes. Ok, yes, That I can see. So why not tell me the problem?”
“You know very well you icy bastard.” She was positively radiating rage. The heat of her anger danced a trickle of sweat down my forehead.
Well, she had me there.
I did know; I just wasn’t sure why it was always such a problem. Better to beg forgiveness now, I conceded. Make it easier for next time.
“August, honey – you know how this works.”
“But it’s so unfair!” she whined. “People like me! People crave me. I make their lives so much happier. Happier than her, anyway. What does she have that I don’t?” she demanded.
Without waiting for a reply, she continued.
“Honestly, all I want is a few more days. A week. Two, max.”
“August, I’m sorry. I am. But it’s just not possible. You’ve had 31 days, and that’s more than some. Think about poor February for instance.”
This caused her to pause, so I went on, seizing the momentum.
“It’s not like you won’t have another chance; and you can build up your energy again – shine bigger! Brighter than ever! Eleven months is nothing in the big scheme of things. Give your fans time to miss you, and I assure you, you will be adored even more,” I promised.
Her eyes softened, and she smiled.
“I guess,” she said, ruefully, “I mean September is such a hot mess, how could they not adore me?”
“That’s right,” I soothed. “You’re so right beautiful August. They call it “the fall” for a reason – how could she live up to you? Now chin up. You’ve got your last day to enjoy!”
August beamed as she air kissed each of my cheeks goodbye. It was true. Bathing in her sunshine was glorious.
After she had gone, I sighed and leant back heavily into my chair. My temples throbbed from a headache that was developing and I needed a drink.
That had been a close call with August. And it didn’t make it any easier knowing I now had September to deal with.
My job wasn’t easy. Nope. Not at all. But as they say, “Time stands still for no-one.”
You have heard it said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth.’ But the bible also tells you in another breath, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek.”
So therein lies a conundrum.
Vengeance, by it’s very definition is our thirst for punishment. Punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense; AKA retribution. It is a primal human response that can serve to remind others you’re not to be trifled with. It provides a way to keep order.
But revenge comes at a cost. Ask someone why they seek revenge, and they’re likely to tell you their goal is catharsis. The paradox is, the exact opposite tends to happen. We are at the mercy of our ruminations.
When we don’t get revenge, we’re able to trivialize the event. We tell ourselves that because we didn’t act on our vengeful feelings, it wasn’t a big deal. This makes it easier to not necessarily, forget, but move on.
But when we do get revenge, we can no longer trivialize the situation, and we continue to think about it. A lot.
So yes, I say, “Turn to them the other cheek” but make sure you barb it with thorns first. Just in case…
I just kinda knew we would be together. This shy, kind boy; and me, the loudmouth neurotic.
Funnily enough, we fit together perfectly – a tessellation of sorts. Over the years, our tiles have slipped and moved against each other; at other times, apart. But we have committed to closing those gaps.
It’s all a blur – once the meltdown begins. That familiar sinking feeling, consumes me again.
My face blanches as I realise what I’ve done. It’s too late now though. It’s happened.
“What were you thinking?” my beleaguered mind screams.
“That’s the problem… she wasn’t,” replies my subconscious, smirking, “Always the way, once she gets a few drinks in her.”
My head spins as I scrabble to assemble jigsaw pieces of the previous night.
But it’s no use.
There’s nothing there.
Time hosts invisible memories.
Sick to my stomach, all I can do now is ask, “Who else knows?”