TW (aka The Writer) divided his life into three phases: Before Cat, With Cat, After Cat. After Cat began when the vet, Dr. Helen Hatch, sat down beside him in the waiting room of the vet hospital.
Helen reached over and took TW’s hand, then she softly said, “I’m sorry.”
A pain shot through his body. He knew her next words. “Cat is dead.”
TW couldn’t breath. He passed out.
He woke up to see Helen kneeling over him, smelling salts in her hand. Her eyes had concern in them.
“Lorenzo, he’s awake. Help me get him off the floor.”
A tall Hispanic man reached down and lifted TW up and into a chair.
“Are you okay?” Helen asked.
TW nodded his head.
Helen nodded to Lorenzo that she’d take care of things. Lorenzo went back to the receptionist’s desk.
Helen knelt before TW. “I know how much you loved Cat, and how much Cat loved you. I am so sorry.”
Then she took her seat beside him. She rubbed his arm with her hand, trying her best to comfort him. “When you brought her in, I thought we might be able to do something. She’d already lost way too much blood.”
TW nodded his head, letting her know he understood.
“I don’t know. I got home. The door was unlocked. Cat had left the house. She wouldn’t do that. Even if the door was wide open, she’d have stayed inside.”
Helen let go of his arm and leaned back in her chair.
“I don’t know,” he said, “what would have made her leave the house.”
“Has anything happened recently to make Cat think the house was unsafe?”
“No. I don’t think so.”
“Was she in any kind of danger that you know of?”
“No. Not that I know of.”
The hospital was quiet, except for two dogs barking in the background. TW and the vet sat side by side, looking at the back space of a wall across from them.
After five minutes or so, Helen broke the silence. “I’m sorry I misled you. I thought you understood we were just friends.”
“It was me, not you. I fooled myself.”
“How have you been?”
“The usual. The library keeps me busy. And Cat, of course.”
Then it hit him again. There was no more Cat. He swallowed hard.
“Do you need some water?”
Helen stood up and went over to the water cooler and filled a paper cup with water. She handed the cup to TW, then sat back down beside him. The water went down cold and cleared his throat.
Recovered, he remembered what he had heard about Helen. “I heard you lost your baby?”
“About a year ago.”
“Are you okay?”
“Frank didn’t take it well. It was a boy. We have two girls, and he was so hoping. He fell apart. Now we’re getting a divorce.”
TW saw the tears running down her cheeks. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief and handed it to her.
The room was quiet again.
Helen wiped the tears from her face, then passed the handkerchief back to him. Her face went back to vet’s face.
“There’s more to Cat’s death. Where Cat was bleeding, there was a small wound. Cat was sliced by a razor blade.”