“Wendy?” Mum gently called through the door, her voice was off. “Do you want to eat something, darling?”
“Okay.” She said quietly.
Wendy listened to her mother shuffle down the hall again. And then it was completely silent. Her heart jumped into her throat. She’d never again hear the light scratching as the cat strolled around her domain, or have the insistent meow in the morning because she’d closed the door for the night and now the cat wants to come in and fall asleep on the desk under the window, or be able… to give her a cuddle and whisper how much she is loved…
The tears welled in her eyes. “I miss her so much.”
Listlessly she rolled onto her other side, taking the pillow with her.
The sun dropped below the horizon, darkening the room.
Mum knocked again. “Wendy.” She opened the door and entered without waiting for a response. “You have to eat something.”
“I’m not hungry.”
There was a pause. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that it had to happen.” She gasped for air. “This is why I don’t like having pets; it hurts too much when they…”
Wendy buried her face into the pillow. She understood completely, but she didn’t regret any of it. Given the chance again, she’d rescue another stray cat in a heartbeat. No matter how it hurt.
“Come and have dinner,” Mum found some form of composure.
“I don’t feel hungry.”
The bed dipped and a warm hand touched her back. It moved in soothing circles.
But it didn’t soothe Wendy. Triggered, she began to bawl. She lifted her face from the pillow, unable to breath, and gasped. Spittle stretched from her gaping mouth back to the pillow. “Why? I miss her so much. Why did…” She broke off, a whine cutting through her throat.
“It’s going to be alright, darling. She’s in a better place where she isn’t in pain anymore. I’m sorry.” Mum continued the hand circles.
Wendy reached for the tissues on the bedside table, snatching up fistfuls and jamming them against her face. “Mum… stop touching me, please.”
The hand froze. “It isn’t anyone’s fault.”
“I know…” How could she tell her mother that it didn’t matter if she knew that no-one was at fault, but she felt so guilty for not being able to change a thing, for losing someone she loved dearly? Being comforted made her feel even worse.
Mum waited a moment before sighing. The hand disappeared. The door closed. The shuffle noise faded.
And Wendy was alone with the growing hollowness.