4
min

Meow

Image of MEG

MEG

28 readings

10

The cat came insinuatingly and brushed against her leg, leaving white hairs on her dark blue jeans. She stiffened and after a pause, gave some crumbs of her cheeseburger bun to the stray. Then she quickly gathered her notes and pen from the table, stood up, and left.

It was a cold winter day. Carlo would be studying now in the library, in the maths section as he always did, alone. She did not really like math but Carlo was a nice guy. She was a literati herself, counting all the classics masters as her best friends.

When she arrived at the university library she headed straight for the Victorian Age section, which incidentally was adjacent to the calculus section. She picked off Wuthering Heights from the shelf and sat down to lose herself in Heathcliff’s agony over the irascible Catherine. Carlos was seated at the other end of the table, his mop of brown hair nearly touching the pages of the maths book he was studying.

After a few minutes he looked up and saw her. His eyes devoured her like she was the answer to Riemann’s unsolved hypothesis but his smile was kind. She turned up the corner of her lips in reply then dove back into the part where Heathcliff was berating his lady love for driving him insane.

Back at the dorm she met Alice on the way up. They went into their room together without a word, until Alice piped up: “So, did he text you?”

“I don’t know; I haven’t really checked my phone.”

“I’ll check it for you.”

She sank to her bed lost in thought while her roommate let out a squeal of delight.

“Yes, he did! Here’s what it says: ‘Hi Allie! I wonder if I could ask you out to coffee tomorrow after class. Carlo.’”

She said nothing. Alice waited for a few seconds, then handed back the phone to her. “I’d go out with him, if I were you. He’s a decent guy – could be worth to give him a chance.”

“Maybe,” she said, and buried her face in the pillow.




They met at the cafe outside the library the next day and ordered mochas. He seemed nervous.

“So – I always see you reading classics.”

“Yes, I like Victorian literature. They’re so passionate, yet so restrained.” She sipped her drink. “And you... always read calculus books.”

“Yes.” He offered no further explanation. She smiled politely and watched the birds fly overhead.

“So,” he said, rekindling the conversation, “what are you reading these days?”

“I’m trying to finish Wuthering Heights. Emily Bronte. I’ve read some of her poetry, and I got curious about her novel.”

“Is it good?”

“Yeah, so far. The language is archaic but I’m not finding it too difficult.”

“I bet you’ve read a lot. What’s your favorite book?”

“The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings,” she answered without hesitation.

“That was unexpected,” he chuckled.

“Why?”

“I thought you would name some other romantic book, but yeah, I like Lord of the Rings too. I remember watching all the movies with my brother back at home. I miss those times.”

“I named my cat Bilbo,” she volunteered. “I’ve read all the books too – aside from watching the movies.”

“Is it true that Gandalf could have just asked the eagles to drop them off at the volcano?” he asked, grinning.

“No, they never would have made it to Mordor,” she answered decisively. “You know it was a stealth mission...” They talked about Tolkien until the streetlights lit up and the stars came out.




Alice was in ecstasy with the next text. “It says, ‘Can we go to the movies this weekend? Modern Wuthering Heights showing.’ What will you say, Allie?”

“I don’t know. It’s been ages since I went on a date.”

“Yes,” Alice agreed, “and it’s high time for you to get out there. You always spent your time with-”

“I know,” she murmured. “I still miss him. I wish he was here.”

Alice shook her head in disapproval. “I’m telling you, it’s good for you to move on. Go out with Carlo – it’ll help you take your mind off him for a bit.”

“I doubt that,” she said. “I’ll always miss him.”

“You need to let go. It’s already been a week. Go out with Carlo on that movie date – Withering – Watering - Heights – or whatever it is that’s on.”

“I’m not really into him,” she declared.

“Yes you are – you’ve gone on a coffee date with him, which is 100% more often than with your last 4 or 5 suitors!”

She said nothing. Alice finally snapped. “Fine – if you want to live your life alone, go ahead. I’m just trying to help you. Maybe he was gone for a reason – so you can finally get out there and start living. But if you want to be a crazy cat lady, be my guest. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. You know he’s gone forever. But if you want to do yourself a favor, at least go out with a decent guy like Carlo – then maybe you can replace him.”

Her only reply was a heavy sigh which sounded like a sob. Alice debated whether to hug her, but decided this was a case of tough love. She went to her own bed and turned off the light.




The next day Carlo noticed that she did not greet him like she did before. Scenting trouble, he stayed away for a while. When dusk began to fall, he edged closer to her corner.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi.”

“Is this a good time?”

A heavy sigh. “Not really, but thanks.”

“It’s getting late – I could walk you back to the dorm.” She looked up and saw that his eyes were kind. Maybe Alice was right. Maybe it was time to move on. “Alright.”


On their way to the dorm he was not shy to ask questions. “What were you thinking about earlier?”

“Someone very dear to me.” She felt him stiffen, but did not probe further. She continued, “He’s gone now. He won’t be coming back.”

“I see. Are you still sad over him?”

“Yes.” Suddenly tears welled up in her eyes. “I miss him everyday.” A tear rolled down her cheek.

Confused but concerned, his hand unconsciously reached out to wipe her cheek. She looked up to him, eyes full of pain. Before he knew what he was doing, he had put his arms around her in a gesture of comfort.

She cried her sorrow out for the first time since she had buried him. After a few moments, she stepped back from his embrace.

“I’m sorry, uhm – thank you.” She took a deep breath. “I needed that.”

His voice was warm, just like his embrace. “Anytime.” She looked up at him, eyes bright from tears, but now smiling.

Carlo looked into her eyes and dared to brush his hand against hers. She did not move but closed her eyes briefly, whether in happiness or resignation he could not tell. He moved a step closer. Before he could clasp her fingers, however, she had already brought them to her face in a mock cough and stepped back. He looked at her blankly as she said, “See you tomorrow at the library, then.”

His confused but urgent words rang out after she had already turned her back and walked away.
“And I’ll see you at the cinema on – Saturday?”

Her steps were hurried, as if reeled in by a string. “Yes!” she shouted over her shoulder carelessly.



She went back to the library building. Breathless, she saw that the cafe was still open. She looked anxiously around the tables. Bending down slightly, she called out urgently, “Where are you?”

A small black-and-white cat came out from behind a bush and brushed against her leg. “Meow,” it said.

“There you are, sweetheart,” she breathed. She bent to pick it up and hugged it against her chest. “I’ll name you Frodo. Let’s go home.”

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Image of Roger
Roger · ago
This is quality writing and should have more votes so I've given it three. I loved the twist at the end and didn't see it coming even when the room mate suggested the main character might turn into a crazy cat lady.
Could you spare a few moments to read my story 'Dia de los Muertos' I hope you like it.

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Image of MEG
MEG · ago
Thank you Roger!
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Image of Keith Simmonds
Keith Simmonds · ago
My votes for this well- written, intriguing story ! Here’s an invitation to read and support “The Awakening” which is also in the Button Fiction competition! Thanks in advance!
https://short-edition.com/en/story/3-min/the-awakening-1

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