A short story I wrote some time back after reading about a man who suffered severe depression after losing his wife. So I wrote this because sad endings suck. And no, it wasn’t about that Sarah. It was fleshed out before anybody ever heard of her :-)
Darkness had invaded my life. It pervaded every aspect of my being. All windows shut, all blinds closed. I cared about nothing and no one. I cared even less about myself. Sunlight touching me was like a torch on my skin. Thoughts in my mind turned into black tunnels, where demons and other foul creatures could hide and work their evil on my soul.
It started the day she passed away. I knew she was dying, but I had convinced myself that it would never happen. She was my life, my breath, my very soul. Without her, I was not a man; I was an empty shell. To lose my wife was to lose my life.
When she did pass, I fell to the ground and cursed the very God she loved so deeply. I ranted and raved until my mind was a blank slate, and my soul was empty. The darkness had already started to descend, and I didn’t know it.
Contempt became my sustenance; bitterness my wine. I slid into myself and hid away from everything and everyone. The demons came then, and I thought I had met my masters. My dreams were full of frightening images, my waking hours full of misery. I came to long for them to invade my sleep and fill the emptiness inside me, even if it was all ugly.
I lived with them for many years. I would only go out to buy food and other necessities. The insurance money I got from my wife’s death made me self sufficient. I had no need to work. Fortunately, we never had children. I would have been unable to raise them in my condition.
I always walked to the grocery store, usually in the evening, after the streets were mostly empty, and always passed a pet store on the way. I never really looked at the pets on display in the window, but on one particular evening I did. I noticed a white kitten looking at me with sad, bright blue eyes. I suppose it was seeing the same sad eyes looking back.
I saw the same kitten every time I walked passed the store, and I always stopped to look at it. It always had the same, sad expression on its face. On this one day, though, I smiled when I saw it. The kitten immediately jumped up and came to the front of the cage. The sad look instantly changed to one of curiosity. That intrigued me. How could a kitten respond to a smile? I thought. Was it really my smile it was seeing?
Over the next few days I walked to the pet store just to look at the kitten. I tested my theory by some days just looking at the kitten, and some days smiling. Every time I smiled, the same thing happened: the kitten would come to the front of the cage with the same curious look on its face.
I finally went into the store and asked the proprietor about the kitten. He said he had been unable to sell it because it ignored every person that came in to look at it.
I walked over to the cage and smiled to the kitten. It came to me, rubbed up against the cage, and meowed. I reached my fingers through the wire of the cage and scratched it. The kitten started purring right away.
Visibly taken aback, the proprietor said, “I don’t believe what I am seeing, sir. The kitten has never shown an interest in anyone. How is it that it responds to you?”
“I don’t know, but every time I smile, it seems to know. I believe I will purchase this kitten. Please see I am supplied with everything necessary for its health and comfort,” I told him.
“The kitten is a female, sir. I have not named her, so the honor will be yours. I will gather up everything you will need and supply you with the bill when I am done. Is that satisfactory?”
“Quite, sir,” I replied.
I paid the bill and left with the kitten, plus all the items the proprietor had supplied me with. When I arrived home, I set up a food dish and the litter box. The kitten took off to investigate her new surroundings.
I would notice her checking out different rooms. As she wondered around the house, she would always stop and look at me. If I was smiling, she would come over and rub up against my leg. If I had my usual look on my face, she would ignore me and continue on her quest.
This went on for two days. She constantly moved from room to room, checking every corner, nook and cranny. Her expression told me she was looking for something in particular. What it was, I could only guess.
I had deliberately not named her yet, as I couldn’t think of a name. My mind was a complete blank and I thought nothing of it. Then one day she climbed on the dresser in my bedroom and stared at the picture of my wife. She looked at the picture, then at me, meowing all the time.
I got off the bed and walked over to pick her up. She kept looking at the picture, then back up at me. I told her the picture was of my wife, and she had died six years ago. The kitten meowed at me when I told her my wife’s name was Sarah.
I think for the first time in six years, I chuckled. I said “Sarah” again, and the kitten meowed again.
“Okay, my little friend, Sarah you are.” And the kitten started purring the most contented purr I think I have ever heard or felt.
From that day on, my life started to change. Sarah pretty much owned me. She would paw at the curtains until I drew them back. She would then paw at the windows until I opened them.
I would find her lying on the floor in the sunlight. She would move to follow the sunlight as it made its way across the floor. My Sarah was much the same way: she loved the sunlight.
Gradually, I started opening all the curtains and windows in the house every morning. I learned to love the morning sun. No longer did it scorch me. No longer was I afraid of it. My kitten had opened more than windows in my life; she had opened my very life.
I started going out and revisiting old friends. On early visits, I took Sarah with me. She seemed to stabilize me in my endeavors to reacquaint myself with the people I had known when my wife was alive.
As I moved along in rebuilding my social skills, and meeting new people, Sarah started acting like she wanted me to go out on my own. I thought this strange, and wondered if she was angry with me. But when I would get back home, she would jump up on my lap for some serious scratching. Her purring at those times was like a kiss from my wife. Many times I woke in the morning in the chair with the kitten still asleep on my lap.
I was eventually introduced to a very beautiful woman by Jerry, a man who had become my best friend and confidant. Her name was Victoria. She liked to be called Vicky.
Vicky worked for our city’s only newspaper. She wrote the food columns for the paper and specialized in restaurant reviews. I became quite taken with Vicky, and invited her over to my house for a home cooked meal. I was proud of my culinary skills and wanted to show them off to her.
When Vicky arrived, Sarah ran up to her and started to rub up against her leg. I started to say something, but Vicky picked her up and held her with one arm, while scratching her chin. Sarah looked at me and started purring.
There were many days, and nights, like that. Vicky became a regular feature at the house, and Sarah took to her like, well, a kitten to a beautiful woman.
Whenever Vicky left Sarah would come and sit on my lap, looking up at me and meowing. We knew Vicky belonged in both our lives.
That realization gave me pause for thought: The demons that infested me were of my own making. Sarah had taught me that. She had shown me many things. For a while, I thought Sarah was the reincarnation of my wife. But I came to believe that, while Sarah may not be a reincarnation, it was my wife who had put her in the pet store. The spirit Sarah had could only come from my wife. I knew then my wife was happy, and with the God she so firmly loved.
More and more, my world changed. The demons were gone. The sun shone bright on my life. I asked Vicky to marry me, and she said yes. Sarah was especially frisky that day.
After Vicky and I were married, and had settled into my home, Sarah changed. Not much, but enough that I noticed it. She would spend more time by herself, and less time with Vicky and me.
But on one particular night, I got up from the bed, walked out to the living room, and sat down in my favorite chair. Sarah jumped up on my lap, lay down, looked up at me and meowed. I scratched her in all her favorite spots, and when she started purring, I knew that all was well with her. Sarah was happy and content. She had done what she had set out to do: drive away my demons and teach me there was life after my wife’s death. I looked down at her, and said a final goodbye and thank you to a woman I had loved so dearly.
I picked the kitten up, put her gently down on the chair. She was asleep and purring still. I went back into the bedroom and climbed into bed to be with my new wife. I had gone from a lost soul to the happiest man on earth. All because of a little white kitten that liked my smile.