DR. Maura Kelly jangled her key ring in her palm and fished out her house key. After her husband’s funeral and the reception at her parent’s house, she couldn’t wait to hide inside her home. She couldn’t stomach another well-meaning person saying, “I’m sorry for your loss.” After Sean’s long loosing battle with cancer, the words had no soothing effect. They hurt her more. Sean was dead, and she was the one left to deal with it once everyone went home.
She stuck the key into the front door and opened it to find Charlotte, her and Sean’s tabby cat, sitting and facing her with soulful green eyes and a tilt of her head. Maura set her purse down and squatted in front of Charlotte. She cradled Charlotte’s face and smoothed her hands gently along the cat’s ears, onto her back, and finishing at the tip of her tail.
Before leaving for Sean’s funeral, she’d left the hallway and kitchen lights on not wanting to stumble around in the dark winter evening, anticipating being away for most of the day; a day that dragged on more than one should. Luckily, she had filled Charlotte’s food and water bowl, and placed fresh litter in her box.
“I’m so sorry.”
Charlotte purred and sympathetically nudged against her, sensing Maura’s pain as animals do.
Maura kissed the top of Charlotte’s soft, furry head.
“I love you, and I miss him too. But Daddy’s gone. We have to take care of each other now.”
The cat let out a grief-stricken meow.
She gave Charlotte another comforting stroke, one they both needed, badly.
Maura then stood and slipped off her coat. She unwrapped the scarf from her neck and shook the cold from her hat. After hanging her winter gear on the coat stand, she unzipped her boots and shoved them under her coat to thaw.
Sean’s empty peg loomed over her. Her heart suddenly felt too heavy for her chest. She wrapped her arms around herself as if to ease the ache, but it made no difference. Maura dropped her arms to her sides in surrender.
Charlotte hadn’t moved from her guardian spot. Sweet kitty had waited for her to gather her next thought. But she failed to pull a thread of thought loose, abandoning to make sense of why it all happened. Wondering was futile and merely fatigued her more. Sean was dead, but she was the one becoming spectral.
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