9/25/2013

A Cat Spoke in English (Short Story)

Things got weird when my cat started talking to me. I'd come home from class, and everything would seem normal. When the sun went down, he started talking. "Hey, feed me man," that's the first thing I heard him say. He spoke more complex things little by little. One night, he sang the ABC's. The next night, Hemingway.

He went through my whole book shelf. Once he started with Quentin Compson I became alarmed. My cat could easily recite Faulkner; I never even finished reading it. I never understood what he was even talking about until my cat gave me the summary. He kept me up all night with his reading. I learned when I should have been sleeping, I slept when I should have been learning. I lived a contradiction. And my cat read me stories at night.

I went on a date with the girl of my dreams and blew it because I couldn't stop thinking about the talking cat. He was set to read the last few chapters of Huck Finn that night. I'm not sure what I liked more: the stories I never really read, or the fact that my cat was reading them to me.

My life was slowly falling apart while I wandered around in a daze. At first I thought I was the only one who knew it, but my friends all noticed too. They said to me, "Jack, we're worried about you." I told them not to worry about me. I didn't tell them about my talking cat. I decided to try and get some sleep that night.

And try I did. My talking cat spoke louder. He spat words at me with increasing speed. That's when I realized he'd been gradually reading faster ever since he first started talking to me. I was impressed, he must be learning. I still wanted to sleep. I buried my face in my pillow and even plugged my ears. No success. I could still hear him very clearly. Novels in their entirety. Only at night.

As soon as the sun sets he starts reading, projecting his voice throughout my whole house. I'll admit this is a very difficult feat, but it made my house seem so small. I could not escape the thundering voice of my talking cat. I gave up trying to sleep and tuned back in. Tuning back in to the nightly literature pulled my focus completely out of class. My name was on the attendance list, but my mind was at home with my cat.

Classic narratives ran through my head. I thought about a blend of 1984 and Hamlet. Dystopian society with the tragedy of Shakespeare. The Odyssey mixed with Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield and Odysseus struggled their way back to Ithaca while crossing out curse words in bathroom stalls along the way. When class was dismissed, I woke up.

My friends cornered me after class. They forced me to talk to them. They told me I smelled bad, and looked like I hadn't showered in weeks. "Just one week," I told them. They made me tell them about my talking cat. I gave them the truth about the literature I'd heard him reading every night. They said that they wanted to see for themselves. I said they could come over, but they had to wait until it was dark.

They gave me strange looks but they said they'd be over when it was dark outside. I went home a nervous wreck. I thought they might try and take my cat from me. A talking cat would be worth a hefty fortune. My cat's novel of choice for the night was Fight Club. I sat on the couch, listening closely. The whole thing seemed oddly familiar. My friends said they couldn't hear it. That they didn't even see my cat. I told them he likes to hang out by the bookshelf.

I stayed on the couch while they made their way over to the bookshelf. They screamed, but I could barely hear them. We just met Tyler Durden. My dead cat landed in my lap. He was still reading Fight Club when my friends left. I put my talking cat back on the bookshelf and sat back on the couch to listen. A fly landed on my ear.

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