You know something’s gone terribly wrong when the highlight of your week is installing a plastic basket on your bicycle. Things weren’t going well at all. I had moved back in with my father, following the mishap with my sinister flatmate who is inappropriately named Lolly, which had occurred the previous Thursday.
It had all happened rather fast, I remember coming home one evening, ravished, searching for something to stifle the gnawing hunger rising inside me. I grabbed what I then believed to be a tin of dried fruit, and proceeded to tear the lid off and attack. Moments later however, I noticed that the taste of this dried kiwi was surprisingly pungent and salty, and upon looking down realised that I had, in fact, picked up the cat food belonging to Lolly’s tabby, Shingles. As I was spitting it out Lolly appeared in her glitter flip flops by the kitchen door,
‘What is this?!’ She shouted, picking up Shingles from the carpet and covering his eyes. Her own face was contorted with shock, as though she had walked in on something shameful.
‘Sorry, I’ll replace it,’ I stammered, through mouthfuls of tuna-infused tap water.
‘This is not about replacement. You have insulted Shingles and I beyond coherence. How dare you steal his food and then spit it out in front of him?’
Now, there were several problems with her little speech. Firstly, she claimed to be beyond coherence, which was clearly not the case. Secondly, Shingles hadn’t appeared until after Lolly had so there is little chance he saw, and thirdly, she claimed replacement was not an issue but then proceeded to accuse me of theft. It was all rather exhausting.
‘Look seriously, do you think I’d eat cat food on purpose?’
‘Pah! Oh I don’t know what you’re capable of. I’ve seen your father, trying to drown the neighbour’s dog! God only knows what sick animal abusers you’ve been exposed to.’
I contemplated giving her that one but the problem was, I’m sure he’d just been messing about, and the neighbour’s dog, Brandy, had quite enjoyed it too. Now, now, let me explain before you get the wrong idea.
Following the lift on the hosepipe ban two months prior to this fiasco my dad had left his breakfast in delight of hearing the news, haphazardly connecting the pipe to it’s mains and positively sprinted out in his pyjamas to ‘nourish his ever so thirsty green babies’ as he had put it. Brandy had just been sitting a few meters away from him, basking in the sun on our neighbours’ drive. My dad, being the jolly old fellow that he is, was merrily chatting away to old Brandy, and I pointed this out to Lolly as we were pulling in to the drive. However, just as she opened the car door she heard the words, ‘Hmm Brandy? Want to go for a swim hey? Hahaha,’ to which she turned, gaping, to see my father playfully directing the hose in a bewildered Brandy’s direction. He turned to smile at me, like a naughty school boy being caught by a teacher he knows won’t punish him. But Lolly never let go of the incident. She had clung to Shingles all through the afternoon (for she took the little nuisance everywhere with her), and had barely spoken a word to my father since.
Anyway, that’s all besides the point. Our argument then escalated to strange heights, resulting in her grabbing a tangerine from the fruit bowl in the lounge, and taking the time to peel it before hurling it across the room at me. Now I may be many things, but I am most certainly not the kind of person to accept old fruit being flung at me, peeled or otherwise.
It was at that point that I decided enough was enough. Gone were the days of sitting by and watching this strange girl clip her toenails in the kitchen sink or refuse to consume bread crusts unless they had been marinated in freshly squeezed lemon juice. I therefore proceeded to gather my belongings and make haste from this strange girl and her even stranger cat.
However, upon arriving at my father’s house later that very evening, I was ever so shocked when removing my belongings from my little car to discover that among all the disarray Shingles had wedged himself into a leather boot of mine, and had withstood the twenty minute drive without a single squeak. Now I had never liked this cat. And was not happy to find it, firstly because I hated it, and more importantly, because I rather adored the boots.
I however, faced an awfully difficult dilemma at this point. You see, I knew that if Shingles was ever out for more than a couple of hours at a time Lolly would begin to twitch and pick at her nails, whilst flitting from window to window to see when her little terror would return. Now I don’t regard myself as a vicious person, but the thought of knowing that she would probably start hyperventilating in an hour was curiously pleasing. However, I also knew that she would try her hardest to have me arresting if she knew that the nuisance cat had come back with me.
So I compromised my sudden urge of schadenfreude and politely asked my willing father to return the thing to the apartment. He willingly obliged, and I spent the evening unpacking and pondering how ironically free a twenty-five year old woman can feel when back under the roof of her parents. However, the next morning, when I awoke in my childhood bed, I was very surprised to find a soft addition to my pillow, and almost hurled the thing down the stairs when I opened my eyes to find it spread eagle in blissful sleep beside me.
Running down the oak stairs, I called for my dad, asking why he hadn’t returned it to Lolly.
‘But I did!’ He insisted, finishing the remains of his breakfast. ‘I left him on the front step and when he wouldn’t budge I pushed him through the cat-flap. Cheeky bugger must have found his way back to you,’ he chuckled, picking it up and stroking its ears. ‘He must like you if he follows you everywhere.’
‘It doesn’t follow me!‘ I insisted, but sure enough it leaped out of my father’s grasp and trotted to my side as I left the kitchen.
‘Go away,’ I ordered, but it wouldn’t budge.
‘Oh now Rose, that’s no way to talk to him.’
‘Seriously dad, it’s freaking me out, I’m taking it back.’ I lifted it by the scruff of the neck with my thumb and forefinger, so as not to expose too much skin to it, and shuffled out in my dressing gown. It was only when I got into my batty old car and turned the engine on that I realised I was out of fuel. Muttering darkly at the now purring cat, for it was all so obviously its fault, I opened the door, beckoned it out and waddled over to the garage in search of a tankard of fuel. I had to stifle the urge to kick the little nuisance as it meandered through my bare legs, purring gently. It was only when I looked down and noticed its eyes closed in blissful content that I felt an inexplicable, foreign urge to stroke it.
But the feeling left as soon as it had appeared, and I went back to searching for the tankard, looking over my shoulder ever few minutes to make sure nobody had witnessed my momentary lapse. It was another ten minutes later when I recognised defeat and proceeded to manually install a plastic bucket, which I’m sure had once been used as a urinal, onto my old bike. With that I put the little terror in the make-shift basket, and drove to the flat, trying hard not to think about the fact that I was still in my dressing gown. The little weirdo sat, staring at me, purring the whole way. I tried my hardest not to make eye contact with it when I reached the flat, pushing it through the front cat flap and telling it to stay there. I ignored the notices for a missing tabby which decorated the trees lining almost every road I drove along on the way back. Sure enough, when I got home from work that evening, there he sat, waiting patiently on the front step of the drive. Lucky me.
I am currently a student of English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Creative writing had been my favourite subject at school for as long as I can remember. Being able to express myself and make people laugh, smile and think with my writing is a feeling next to no other. I hope you enjoy my story.