Inky Paws

A sliver of natural luminescence slipped between handsewn curtains and glinted off the pearl black coat of a cat. The undersized feline hopped up from the window sill onto a ponderous oak desk, the most prominent feature of the quaint bedroom.

The animal stalked past a Vive la France! mug bristling with writing implements; a row of colorful file organizers; a fat white binder bursting with recipes cut from hundreds of magazines some of which were no longer available in print; and a cheerful sea green stapler. A sturdy metal lamp stood sentry at the end of it all, encircled by a multitude of picture frames showcasing a growing family over a complete and eventful lifetime. The same pair of joyful faces, a man and woman, appeared in nearly all photos; first in grayscale images clad in relatively flashy vintage attire, later more mature in dress and posture, later still wearing ashen wrinkles well earned.

A single bleak greeting card occupied the desk’s otherwise empty writing surface, together with an bright white envelope of exact size. A brief message glared from the front of the card in elegant silver type against a solid, solemn background. The greeting card’s hue blended flawlessly with the cat, at it first stepped over then sat on it. Its back to the photos, the animal fixed golden orbs on the closed bedroom door.

A moment later that very door crept open and admitted a stooped woman of advanced age, dressed for church and alone. The cat popped to its paws, and meowed and babbled loudly.

The woman smiled, weary dimples of youth drawn long into lines. “Hold your horses, Lucy,” she said breathlessly. “Let mama get in her chair.”

The woman shuffled to the window where she tugged open faded curtains with some difficulty. Neglecting to change into more comfortable clothes, she instead folded her bent form into the ergonomic chair that was almost invisible at the desk and, with a gesture from a knobby hand, beckoned the cat to join her. The animal pounced onto her lap and curled up to her chest. Robust purrs quivered the woman’s tired bones.

Resting her head back, the woman swiveled the chair to better see the view out the window of the sky and distant foothills. She absently stroked her companion as she witnessed the day quietly decay, until the rosy sun sank low and bountifully scattered warm ribbons and blankets across those light, airy clouds, like pillows, and over fields, trees, and any other thing able to be touched.

She whispered to the cat.

“It was a lovely service.”

Prompt: A black cat

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