As if being torn apart
Her alarm went off: 4:30am. Wonderful. Another school day; another two-hour commute; another day she had to leave her warm bed and cuddly baby to sit in a car for two hours, classrooms for six hours, and back into the car for another two-hour drive home before she could hold her sweet boy again.
The day started off as usual. The poor boy cried as she moved his body away from hers. It was into bed with Grandma for him, but he only wants Mommy these days. That was the hardest part. She hated for him to cry.
She hadn’t cried since her son was born; she didn’t allow herself. Not even when both of her cats died from feline leukemia just a month apart three months ago. Not a day passed that she didn’t think of them. It was the first time she’d been without a cat in her entire life.
The rest of her preparation for the day went as usual, and she was out the door by a quarter to six. The drive was as flat and straight as always. She hated Ohio.
About 20 miles in to the drive, she noticed something lying in the road. An orange kitty. Poor kitty, she thought…. She glanced in her rearview mirror only to see something that made her heart sink: a black cat in the median. He just sat there looking at his poor friend. She hit her brakes. Every instinct told her she needed to save that cat. She had to back up…On the highway… Maybe not… But there was an emergency turn-around just ahead.
Instead, she just kept driving. She couldn’t stop and get the cat. Where would she put him during class? She decided to stop on the way back if he was there. Mile-marker 71. She prayed for the kitty and cried. Her heart sank. She almost knew for certain what this kitty’s fate would be and it made her sick. Her stomach twisted and turned as she realized that they must have been dumped. Cats don’t just find their way to a highway together in the middle of nowhere.
She went through the rest of her day in a haze. All she could think of was the cat. She failed him, just like she failed her own kitties.
Her stomach churned once she started driving again. The closer she got to the exit for that highway, the more anxiety welled up in her. Just off the side of the on-ramp laid a beautiful Siamese kitty. He looked so peaceful, as if he was sunning himself, but she knew he was the victim of some disgusting person’s abandonment. Her eyes got hot and her throat got tight. She knew what she would see in 40 more miles.
She began counting down, noticing every mile-marker as she passed. 65. 66. 67. 68. She slowed the car; no one was behind her. 69. 70. There he was… A broken body on the side of the road. Another victim. She could have saved him.
Each day she sees cats. Everywhere. Even her dreams are filled with cats: abused and neglected. She tries and fails to save them. They haunt her; their gangly bodies pounce on her and smother out her breath. The Siamese cat is never in the same spot. He is everywhere she looks. They follow her. She hears them crying outside her house at night: horrible, guttural groans as if they are being torn apart. They jump at the windows and rip the screens. No one else seems to notice, but her body shows the proof: bleeding scratches cover her arms and face when she wakes every morning.
She has to spare her son, she thinks. They won’t get him. With the baby safe in bed, she walks outside into the cold night air: screams and growls were deafening and the metallic scent of blood tinged the air. One by one, the highway victims pounced at her, ripping apart her flesh. She just stood there crying, “I’m sorry!”