I remember that day in July, it hailed. I heard the jangle of keys in the front door and turned my head deeper into the pillow, praying perhaps I'd disappear.
Mr Warren! The housekeeper, Mauve. A holdover from before my wife passed. Her voice echo in my head. Mandy mewled as I roughly turned over in the unwashed sheets to face the wall away from the door. Mandy had been "her" favorite cat. Her "girl".
Not to long after we found we couldn't have children, my wife had begun "collecting" them. They were now her children. And there were ten of them.
My wife had been dead three years now..
"Mr Warren!" Mauves voice. I grumbled as she briskly came into the room. "Its 4:15 in the evening!" She opened the drapes and the late afternoon sun engulfed the small dark room. Dust motes circled lazily in the air. Argh! A sharp pain stabbed behind my eyes.
"Drinking again", she mumbled. She scooped up Mandy and marched out the bedroom door, the cats following inmasse. I heard the crinkling of the economy size bag of cat food and water running from the kitchen faucet. And then the contented scuffle of cats.
Then she was in the doorway again. There was a sigh."Its been three years David", I pretended I was asleep. "There was nothing you could do, she was gone before you even got the call"....
A swell of pain and anger clenched my chest.
I thought of my wife, my pretty Maggie, smiling up at me, her head on my chest, as she spoke of children and moving out of the big city.
"You know we can't have the children here", she stated matter-of-factly, "its too dangerous". She pushed aside a lock of dark hair from her sparkling brown eyes. So young, full of life and dreams. I had been on the New York Police force for just one year. My dream. Life was great.
I took a deep breath hoping she had left the room. There was another sigh. Then, "okay", "I left an egg salad sandwich and some soup for you in the kitchen". Oh. And the cats are fed. Take care David.I'll be back Friday. There was a pause and as if an afterthought, "You know, Maggie wouldn't have wanted this , she loved you". There were footsteps and the front door clicked softly and she was gone.
I let out a breath of relief, and fell back into my semi comatose state. It seemed like mere minutes, But time was static to me anymore. There was a loud crash. and then several more pounding crashing sounds. I sat up sharply nearly falling out of bed and tripping over the sheet wrapped around my ankles. I kicked it off, agitated, and stumbled down the hall, to the library.
The balconey door was shattered , on the floor a large chunk of ice. Outside hail was falling in droves. A car alarm sounded shrilly. Strangely the sun was still shining and there was awarm breeze. I stared shaking my head in wonder and picked up the jelly jar off the table, filling it with whiskey, I gulped the warming liquid and turned away from the broken door.
I noticed the apartment was silent, strangely empty feeling. There was no sea of cats around my ankles. Odd. I headed back to the bedroom.
A soft grey ball of fluff lay on Maggie's side of the bed. Off Mandy! I gruffly sat down to shove her off. Her fur was wet, ice glistened, She didn't move. Mandy was cold and stiff. For the first time in over three years I felt something loosen inside , there was a strange wetness on my cheeks. Tears.
The apartment was too silent. And so cold. And I knew now my Maggie had been here all along. But now... she was truly gone. I hadn't known this bone numbing emptiness till now. Her soul had flown away. I crumpled to the floor. I didn't know Maggie! I still need you!