Tablecloth

Edited by Julia Rios

December 2018

There is a cat sitting on her kitchen table when she wakes up. She does not own a cat. She has never even seen a cat near her building. But still, there it is, this cat, curled up into an almost perfect circle of black, snoring slightly. Shedding, likely. She used to love cats. Or maybe she had just loved people that loved cats. But she hasn’t been around cats in a while, ages. Hell, when had she even last seen a cat?

Oh, on the night of the blood moon, two years ago. She had taken a walk with a date through the graveyard, an ironic date that had amused her to no end. When they had leaned into her, warm and smelling of the pot they both had just smoked, her heart had fluttered, but then they had turned and seen a cat run by. She had been left hanging, the promise of the kiss broken and unnoticed. She and her date had chased the cat, but never even came close to catching it. She went home that night to her own bed, alone.

This kitchen table cat, she is the black of the night sky around the moon. How had she gotten here? Was she simply looking for a place out of the rain? Is there nowhere else for her to go? It’s not like she is stuck here. She hadn’t bought this place with someone, with the plans of filling it with plants and art and love only to be told that she wasn’t enough. She is just a cat, free to come and go as she pleases. Why would she be here? What good could a cat find here?

There had been a cat in Puerto Rico, as well. She had been walking down the street, drinking a bright green convenience store juice of dubious flavor and definite alcohol content, and there in a doorway, lounging happily, had been a cat. He had yawned and stretched for her, blinking, and she had grabbed her girlfriend and insisted that they take a picture with him. She felt delighted, loved that cat fiercely, then forgot him until her pictures developed. He had stayed there, after all, content in his own life, not hers to disturb more than briefly. It was the only picture she still had from that trip. He had been a grey tiger.

As she finishes her orange juice — the only vaguely breakfast thing she had found in her fridge next to leftover takeout and a half-drunk beer — she sits still, staring at this morning kitchen table cat. She reaches out a hand, just a bit, and is surprised to find a head reaching up to bump into it. She decides that she’ll call it Tablecloth. She will have to buy a cat dish.

© 2018 Kathryn Kania

About the author

Kathryn Kania

Kathryn Kania is a writer and librarian living in New England. When not thinking about mythological beings, storytelling, or food, Kathryn enjoys swing dancing and walking amongst trees.

Support Fireside

Subscribe to Fireside Quarterly, the beautiful new print edition of Fireside.