NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2 Story: Through The Looking Glass, I Will See You Again
Through The Looking Glass, I Will See You Again
Melissa R. Mendelson
“Please, be open. Someone here? Please, help me. My cat’s not responding, and it’s too far to get into town. And I know that she is not going to make it.”
“Mrs. Whisper, calm down.” The veterinarian appeared behind her. He wore loose jeans and a button-down shirt. He had a black beanie over his head. “I’m here,” he said, staring at the cat in her arms. “Let me take her from you.”
“I didn’t know what to do,” Mrs. Whisper said as she handed the cat over to him. “She’s still breathing. If I didn’t see your sign, I wouldn’t have found your office. You’re so far in the woods, and I can’t lose her. I just lost my husband last year.”
The veterinarian placed a gentle but firm hand on her shoulder. “Breathe,” he said, and Mrs. Whisper burst into tears. “I’m going to take her into the room now. We’ll be waiting for you.”
“No,” Mrs. Whisper cried. “I’m okay,” and she wiped her tears away. “Will you be euth…. Euth…”
“Euthanizing her? No. I don’t think I need to,” and he walked into a room nearby, placing the cat on a small, silver table. “Here.” He reached for a box of tissues, handing them to Mrs. Whisper.
“Thank you,” and Mrs. Whisper blew her nose. She watched the veterinarian open a drawer, expecting him to pull out a syringe. Instead, he took out a magnifying glass and handed it to her. “What am I supposed to do with that?”
“I’m going to step out of the room for a few minutes, but before that, I’m going to dim the lights. When you’re alone, hold the magnifying glass over the cat. What’s your cat’s name?”
“Jelly Bean. What does the magnifying glass do? Can’t you see that my cat is dying?”
“Yes, she is, but I want to give you a chance to say good-bye to her.” The veterinarian dimmed the lights. “I’ll be back soon,” and he left the room.
“What a quack,” Mrs. Whisper said, and she looked at the cat. Her cat stared back, and she burst into tears. “I’m not going anywhere,” and she kissed her cat on top of the head. She held the magnifying glass over the cat’s body.
The dim light trickled down from the ceiling. It floated like a million little golden feathers, and as it hovered in the air, the cat’s body began to softly hum. Her brown fur turned golden, and her yellow eyes shined green. Her limbs stretched outward, turning into legs and arms, and her face morphed from cat to human. An older woman, naked from top to bottom, sat up on the small, silver table.
“What the hell?” Mrs. Whisper nearly dropped the magnifying glass, but her arm felt frozen, caught in the air. “What’s wrong with my arm? Am I having a stroke?”
“No, Mary. You’re not,” the strange woman said. She crossed her legs and folded her arms over her chest. “Do you mind?” She pointed at the blanket hanging over Mrs. Whisper’s arm. “I’m cold.” She watched Mrs. Whisper hand her the blanket. “Thank you,” and she wrapped the blanket around her body.
“Who are you,” Mrs. Whisper asked the strange woman.
“I’m Jelly Bean.”
“No, you’re not. My Jelly Bean is a cat.”
“After the funeral service, you sat in the bathtub and cried for hours. I jumped into the bathtub with you and curled up on your lap. I never left you.”
“How do you know that? Were you spying on me from the bathroom window?”
“You loved reading Alice in Wonderland to me when your husband slept downstairs. You talked to me about your daughters and how you missed them. They barely stayed after the funeral service, which I didn’t think was right.”
“Jelly Bean?” Mrs. Whisper burst into tears. “I’m sorry for the years that I was mean to you. I’m sorry for trying to give you away that one year.”
“Mary,” Jelly Bean said as she placed a hand over hers. “You were going through a lot, and that year was one of your worst. Your family had no idea what you were dealing with, but I did. And I forgive you.” Mrs. Whisper fell into her arms, and Jelly Bean held her as she cried hysterically. “I will always be with you,” Jelly Bean whispered into Mrs. Whisper’s ear.
“I can’t lose you,” Mrs. Whisper howled. “I’ll be all alone.”
“Call your daughters,” Jelly Bean said. “I don’t want you to be alone either.”
“I love you, Jelly Bean.” Mrs. Whisper stepped back from her. “I will never replace you.”
“I have to go.” She lay back down on the table with the blanket still over her.
Mrs. Whisper’s hands were shaking, but the magnifying glass remained over the woman before her. Her eyes were still those of a cat, and her body was turning white. Her face changed back into that face she loved for so long.
“Don’t be alone,” the cat meowed, and a moment later, she was gone.
The veterinarian stepped into the room. He took the magnifying glass out of Mrs. Whisper’s hand and placed it back in the drawer. He took the blanket and covered Jelly Bean’s body. He waited for Mrs. Whisper to finish crying. “I’m sorry,” he said.
“No. Thank you. Thank you for letting me say good-bye to her.”
The veterinarian placed another gentle but firm hand on her shoulder. “Again, I’m sorry for your loss.”
“How much do I owe you?”
“Nothing. When the ashes come back, I’ll call you. You should go home now. Call your daughters.”
“I’m going to miss her.”
“When you see your reflection in the mirror, take a closer look, and she’ll be there. Now, go home,” and he watched Mrs. Whisper walk out of the room. “I hate days like this,” he said to himself. “But that’s why I’m here,” and he pulled off his black beanie, revealing elven ears.