You’ll Never be a Cat (Tabitha, in Therapy) by Rick White

Fiction

‘Tell me why you’re here’ said the doctor, from behind half moon spectacles and a jackdaw fringe.

Tabitha shifted uncomfortably in her chair. She didn’t know how to answer and her only thought was I thought you got to lie on a couch when you came to therapy?

‘My mom told me to come.’ Tabitha replied.

Opening her leather-bound notebook and unscrewing the cap of her gold fountain pen, the doctor exhaled like a deflating balloon. Pressing on, for time (she assumed) was finite, she said, ‘why do think that was?’

There was a couch in the office, an expensive looking chaise-longue finished in cream-coloured brushed velvet. A beam of late afternoon sunshine was slanting through the window on to it, creating the perfect warm patch for a snooze.

‘For a while now’, Tabitha began with some difficulty, ‘I’ve felt like I’m different. I’m not what people think I’m supposed to be. I’m not human, at least not fully. I’m a cat.’

The doctor pushed her spectacles up on to the slender bridge of her nose and leaned forward quizzically, like a heron on a riverbank. ‘Tell me more about that.’

Tabitha didn’t know how to express herself any more succinctly than she already had. And felt that to try and do so would be futile, so instead she just went with, ‘I have trouble making friends.’

‘Hmm’ said the doctor, scratching four words on to the page of her notebook.

Tabitha felt the urge to strike the doctor, to paw-slap the glasses off her stupid birdy face. She didn’t want to be here but she knew how this worked – you had to talk or they would come for you; belt you down, wire you up. Light you up like fucking Christmas to make you sing, sing with the choir damn you! Frenzied and exultant you will prostrate yourself before us. It’s for your own good sweet child, this was all explained.

There was a paper weight on the doctor’s desk, spherical, made of marble. Tabitha rolled it gently with one hand across the desk.

‘Please don’t touch that.’ Said the doctor.

Tabitha flicked it with the tips of her fingers, rolling it to the edge of the desk.

‘I said don’t touch that.’

With a final laconic swish, Tabitha pushed the paperweight to the floor. Then she hissed at the doctor and bolted for the open window.

*

Outside it was blessed sweet night time. Tabitha jumped down from the fire escape to the cobbled street below. She looked up at the starry sky and screeched her curses up to the Moon. The Moon was Robert Smith from The Cure, he’s been doing both jobs since the late 80’s. Don’t call it ‘Moonlighting’, he doesn’t like that joke.[1]

Robert Smith took the curse and put it in a satchel. Then he rolled off across the sky to go and fire the curse through the window at two lazy lovers sleeping sound and smugly. Don’t misunderstand, the Moon’s not wicked, but people only want to hear the Greatest Hits these days and there’s still so much misery to go round. Call it a creative outlet.

Feeling lighter, spritelier, spry and nimble, Tabitha ran for the fields. She clattered and skittered across glassy ice-covered ponds, collecting bullfrog stares. She chased rabbits and hares and weasels down twisted burrows and emerged through tangled roots in to a dream-lit meadow.

She found her friend Mr Scarecrow and the two of them danced a quickstep on top of pointed wheat ears while Robert Smith boogied across the sky singing, ‘hand in hand is the only way to land, and always the right way round…’ Yes it’s an obvious choice but everyone gets one of the Greatest Hits a month, and Robert is fond of Tabitha.[2]

After the dance has ended, Tabitha returns, as she does every night, to sit silently and still on a bench in the churchyard until dawn, her delicate head resting on featherlight paws, ears pricked, eyes closed…but watching. She convenes with astral plains, moving softly down starlit corridors, trying to find the one who went away, the one she misses as though she is a part of her, the one she will never stop searching for.[3]

Tabitha purrs and sings to herself, ‘hand in hand is the only way to land, and always the right way round, not broken in pieces like hated little meeces, how could we miss someone as dumb as this?’

When the church clock strikes morning, Tabitha winds it back.

Now she is back in the doctor’s office, struggling to find an answer to the question she was asked at the start, ‘tell me why you’re here?’

‘My mom.’ Tabitha finally replies.

‘I know sweetheart’ says the doctor with a kind smile. She looks down at the four words she had written in her notebook earlier;

Complex Bereavement Disorder – Mother

And somewhere in the gardens made of nighttime, a scarecrow puts his headphones on. He doesn’t hear the scratch of vinyl, as Disintegration starts to play.

 

[1] Robert Smith definitely does like that joke. He thinks it’s hilarious but he’s not telling you that stupid, he has an image to maintain.
[2] The song ‘The Lovecats’ by The Cure is actually one of the main reasons Tabitha decided to be a cat. It’s so wonderfully, wonderfully pretty.
[3] If you ever find yourself lost between astral plains, give your eyes time to adjust. You may find that what you thought was black sky and stars, is actually a pair of cat’s eyes watching you. Stop and ask for directions, they may give you a bit of sass, but they’re generally pretty helpful.

 

Biography
Rick White is a writer of fiction and poetry from Manchester, UK whose work has appeared in Storgy, Cabinet of Heed, Ghost City Review and Back Patio Press among others. Rick lives with his wife Sarah and dog Harry and currently occupies third place within the hierarchy. Rick appreciates your support during this difficult time. @ricketywhite.

Image: unsplash.com

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