Greetings humans of Earth. Recently, I entered a microfiction competition, and while I didn’t win I was actually quite pleased with my entry. And so I present to all of you, Biscuit:
My daughter’s kitten, Biscuit, keeps me up all night. She’s hard to see, despite her clumsy paws and soft round tummy, and I can’t always get a good look at her. But she’s there; scratching at the doors, ripping up the carpet.
It’s gotten worse, and she’s chewing right through the walls most nights now. Gnawing and scratching and spitting out bits and pieces of drywall and insulation like some kind of zombie robot cat, back from the grave and surviving off of useless bits of wire and mesh debris.
Sometimes I wonder why she can’t just be quiet. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be able to count past five without crying again. Sometimes I leave gaping holes in my walls and doors with my fists, a hammer, anything I have handy. I’m just trying to find Biscuit, make her be quiet.
Those are the nights my husband screams. I can’t make out the words, except when he cries softly that he loves me. I wonder if he remembers our vacation as a family, how much little Emma loved the warm waters of Manzanillo.
Uno. Dos. Hola. Adios. She taught herself some words in Spanish that trip. Would run through the sand and into my arms shouting, “Momma! Hola means hi!” I can’t forget.
Just like I can’t forget about Biscuit. Can’t let her run through the house, chewing through wires and walls and carpet.
My daughter’s kitten hasn’t left much in the way of walls. There are holes and gaps and giant caves dug out all over. Everywhere except Emma’s room. Biscuit doesn’t go in there – almost like she can’t. I can’t either. Can’t swing open that door and see her colorful clothes and toys and messy bed all covered in a layer of dust and loneliness.
I can’t watch the television or cook or turn on the lights anymore, either. Biscuit’s chewed through the wires. She scampers out before my husband can catch a glimpse of her.
“Did you see her, babe? She was right there.”
It’s obvious where she’s just been – the carpet is shredded with the destruction that only tiny little teeth and claws can effectively create. But my husband still doesn’t see her. He only pulls me close, shakes a little.
Biscuit leads me through the house – everywhere but Emma’s room – and I follow her now. Leaving my own holes in the walls. Stitching together memories as I go. A cherubic, smiling face. Dark curls and blue eyes. One dimple. Sunshine and a sandy swimsuit. Uno. Dos. Hola means hi momma. Momma my head feels funny. What does the doctor mean, momma? Momma I love you I want to sleep now. I can’t forget, not like my husband has. So I look for Biscuit, hear her scratching inside the walls. Tiny claws and even tinier mewling.
She was so cute, my little one. Cute enough to make me put hole after hole in the walls and doors. Shouting the little Spanish she knew with wild abandon. Jumping into every picture, eyes saucer-wide and grin full of mischief. Maybe when I catch Biscuit I can open Emma’s door again. Maybe Emma will be sitting there again. Color back in her round cheeks.
My daughter’s kitten made my husband leave. That’s not what the divorce papers say. They sit on my kitchen table next to the chewed up wrappers and dead mice that the zombie cat leaves littered about. It spends more time out in the open now that I’m alone, and sometimes she talks to me. Mostly in Spanish. We went to Mexico once, you know. Biscuit stayed home and little Emma asked about her every day.
It’s funny that Biscuit remembers that trip. It was so long ago – Emma was only five. She even remembers how cute – cute as a button – little Emma looked, all tanned and happy when we came home from that trip. Before she’d ever seen so much as the inside of a hospital lobby.
We talk about Emma a lot, Biscuit and I. She stays in my housecoat pocket most nights now. I can keep her safe there. I’ve even started to patch up some of the holes in the walls.
We count together at night, all the way to five and back down. And then I swallow down the sand in my throat and we drift off to sleep, remembering.