At first, there was nothing but an endless gray limbo. I cannot say how much time passed, for time has no meaning there. From this oblivion, I became dimly aware and bore the burden that is its consequence.
There was anger and fear, sadness and pain, so much pain… These impressions were more feeling than true sense, and I was detached from them. They felt like faint memories, but they did not feel like mine. I fled from them, and found that I had body and open eyes.
I was in a bed, in a room I did not recognize. The room was large, impressively so, and lit by several lamps which sat on small tables arrayed along the walls. The light was a soft golden glow, and it soothed me and stilled my mind. It was then I saw that I was not alone.
Sitting high on one of the tables, was a large and fluffy black cat. It paused from its preening to regard me with its wondrous eyes, seemingly made of the same golden light. Its ears laid back, it lept from its perch and vanished from my sight.
I heard footsteps approaching one of the doors, and, when it slowly opened, a woman stepped inside. Her clothes seemed strange to me, like the fashion of a country I could not identify. They were so fine that I took her to be a person of great importance. A hood hid most of her face, leaving nothing but shadows above the tip of her nose. I saw the curve of her jaw, and her lips, which fascinated my eyes. I did not need more than this to know she was beautiful.
“You’re awake!” she whispered, and there was a constrained excitement in her voice. She came to my side and smiled.
“Where am I?” I inquired.
“You don’t remember?” she asked in reply. I could feel the disappointment and sadness in the musical tones of her sweet voice. I was ashamed to know her pain was for me.
“You don’t remember me?”
And again, it was my shame to deny.
“I don’t remember anything. I don’t even know who I am.”
“Nevermind,” she whispered, “It’s enough that you’re awake.”
Her tiny hand took mine, a touch warm and soft, and I was surprised that anything in this world could be so nice. But I pressed on.
“Who am I?” I begged, but she hushed me and offered, “Perhaps your memory will return in time.
“Please,” I implored, “Bring me a mirror. Maybe seeing my own face will help me remember who I am…”
I tried to rise, to sit up, but at this, a terrible pain swelled in my head and shot like lightning through me. She eased me back down and again she hushed me and said, “You must rest.”
“At least tell me the name of the cat…” I joked through the waves of agony.
“Cat?” she asked, but not to me as she scanned the room. When her eyes returned to me there was more than confusion in them, there seemed to be fear, and the same was in her voice when she went on, “We don’t have a cat.“
I was too weak to carry on and she encouraged me to return to sleep. I could not help but comply.
As I drifted away I held her words in my mind.
“We don’t have a cat.” she had said.
I smiled to myself.
story by Joe Stanley