Nory was having conscience problems. It was after 12 am and she was so disconnected from people who were her friends that it was difficult to decide who she could call. Finally remembering that Brice worked the night shift, she put on her nightgown, went downstairs to find the number and dialed. Brice was a trouble shooter for some kind of energy company and so there was a need for someone to be there to answer calls for help on a 24 hour basis. As luck would have it, Brice answered on the first ring. Nory was upset because her favorite cat had died, and she felt that she may have caused it. Skebridge the cat was 17 years old and had numerous infirmities. Still, she seemed to bop around the house in a happy cat sort of way, and sought Nory out to sit on, either for companionship or warmth. Skep, as she was called, had some kind of sinus infection, and the vet had prescribed a large chewable pill that the cat did not find at all appetizing. Nory, in an effort to save the cat’s life was struggling to shove the pills into the cat’s mouth so that she could recuperate, but as always, the cat was unwilling, and struggling in her hands. Eventually the cat swallowed the two largish halves and Nory found herself looking at her hand, holding the limp cat by the neck. The cat was not dead but Nory felt awful, and was holding the cat on the floor, asking her if “they were ok with each other”, when the door bell rang. Nory rolled over the quietly sitting cat to answer the door for her sister who decided to visit and foist off some iffy but expensive mushrooms on them for dinner. As Nory and her sister adjourned to the kitchen the cat wandered in sneezing prodigiously. “Are you contagious?” Dina asked the cat.
“No, she has been sneezing for months,” Nory replied “the last bout of antibiotics did not cure her, so she is on another course”.
In hindsight, she thought: perhaps I broke her windpipe, or the pills were stuck in her throat. Nory’s other half Jim had found the cat in her big pillow where she slept most of the day, and the cat’s tongue was hanging out. They had hear loud squeaking sounds earlier, sort of like a swing set needing oil, and they joked it could be a mouse dying. Later, that was a lot less funny.
The cat was found after Dina had left, and Nory started calling emergency vet numbers while Jim tried to resuscitate the cat. “She’s gone Nory” he told her, but Nory was in denial, and even after an hour had passed, she felt that the cat was still in there, possibly breathing shallowly. At long last, she reached a veterinary nurse who said that she did not think that a cat could be choked by a pill, and that if the cat was having problems breathing it would have been obvious.
Nory kept playing it back and forth in her head. In her mind, her last interaction with the cat had been terrifying for the animal, and possibly violent. The cat had been blind for months from hypertension, but you could see the delineation of the iris and the pupil at most times. What Nory thought she remembered seeing last was Skep with fully dilated pupils making her look like those simpering cat posters people are so often moved by. That and the fact that Skep had been so still afterwards, made Nory believe she had killed her own animal. Her husband and sister could not dissuade her of this notion, nor could the compassionate nurse on the phone, dissuade her that she had done something very wrong.
Bruce however, told her that the cat was lucky to have had a wonderful life with Nory, and further, that she died in her own bed, in her own home, and he was right.
Nory went back to bed shivering from the cold air downstairs and her own sorrow.