Mary Thompson

Is This Our Lives Now?

I buy a cat for Christmas. So I now live on the top floor of a thirty two storey apartment block with a balcony, a spindly palm tree and a cat. I figured this little outdoor space would be where the cat could go to experience life, but when I’m at work, I ponder on the poor animal cooped up inside my two bedroom luxury flat in Fulham. And later, when I get home, I cradle the cat’s tiny head in my hands and stare into his viridian eyes. ‘What are you thinking?’ I ask. ‘Is this our lives now?’

Christmas Eve was when it happened. He’d only nipped out for an espresso. And the driver, I found out after the funeral, was a barista! Funny that.

‘What did you think of me?’ I ask his mum. I often see her there ironing at the end of my bed and ask, even though ten years have passed since she died and I already know what she thought of me.

Every morning, he and I swim lengths together in the warm basement pool, slamming our feet against the wall with each turn, and then it’s the last one and he’s out. As he drags his beautiful body up the steps, his voice grows fainter and soon he’s invisible, but still I hear him.

‘I’ll see you soon, babe,’ he says. ‘Just need some caffeine’

‘But when?’ I ask. He doesn’t reply.

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Mary Thompson works as an Academic English tutor in London. She is a recent winner of two BIFFY 50 awards (Best British & Irish Flash Fiction 2018-2019), and her piece, ‘The Circle is Complete,’ featured in ‘The Group of Seven Reimagined,’ has just been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has been published in various places, including Ellipsis Zine, Retreat West, Ghost Parachute, Literary Orphans, Pidgeonholes and MoonPark Review, and is forthcoming in Pithead Chapel.