Archive for September 16th, 2011

16th September
written by amber

Gato Negro

After those terrible months, Mona was desperate for a change of scene and friends convinced her to stay in the house they rented every year in Oaxaca. Although the high season for tourists was over by the time she arrived in late April, she expected to prefer quieter surroundings.

But the place was far from quiet. The family who acted as caretakers lived on the ground floor of the house, and they were very noisy – children crying, radios played loud, the lovesick boyfriend of the teenage daughter singing ballads from the street each night. Not to mention the roosters, who crowed from sundown to sunrise, unaccountably.

She was too cowed by recent events to make any kind of fuss or complaint; she endured meekly and told her friends when they phoned that it was exactly what she needed.

The cat was her only solace. Thin as a wisp, she slipped into the house from the open balcony one day and cried in front of the fridge. Mona gave her milk and pieces of fish left over from the previous night’s dinner. She named the cat Fafard after the Saskatchewan artist renowned for extremely thin sculptures of cows. She bought raw fish at the market for her every day.

Fafard was not the only cat – the yard and the street and the neighbourhood seethed with them. One large tom with missing ears and a crooked tale chased Fafard each time she ventured outside. “I hope you don’t get pregnant,” Mona told her. “You’re far too young to be a mother.”

The next day, Fafard brought her kittens to Mona. Four fluffy balls of creamsicle-coloured fur, as healthy and perfect as their mother was thin and mangy.  Mona doubled Fafard’s fish ration and gave milk to the kittens. They were too wild to stay inside with her, but lived on the balcony just outside her bedroom.

When the caretaker discovered Fafard inside the house, he was very angry. Mona’s Spanish wasn’t good enough to understand all that he said to her, but he brought out a copy of the rental agreement she had signed and repeatedly stabbed with a wide discoloured thumb at one sentence, “No pets allowed.” She certainly didn’t have enough command of the language to point out that Fafard wasn’t her pet but one of the yard cats she assumed belonged to his family and that if the barking dogs downstairs were permitted, why not this quiet little cat?

After that, she kept Fafard outside day and night, but continued to feed her. And, although she didn’t like Mexico very much, she began to look for a permanent rental. She’d lost her baby and then her marriage, but she was determined to keep this one cat and her kittens safe.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.