|Thanks to D.B. McNicol for the logo.|
It was just a side room of Annie’s mother’s house, and Claire felt at home here. She sneezed as she came in, feeling drained. “Sorry, Annie. I’ve had a cold, but I didn’t want to cancel.”
“No problem. I get it. Are you okay?”
“Eh. I’m just drained. This stupid cold has lingered for over a week. Maybe more like two. I can’t just stay in bed, though.
“Stir crazy, huh? Sit here and relax. I’ll take care of you.” She asked a couple questions to see if Claire wanted anything different today or just the usual, then turned on some music and cut back on the chatter. Claire was wiped out and small talk wouldn't help.
Suddenly Claire jolted in her seat, breaking the silence with a question. “Where’s Damien?” she asked, looking around. Damien was the latest in a string of cats Annie’s mother had owned. She still lived in the big house with the salon attached and had one or two cats at all times. When one cat died, she might get a new one immediately or might wait a while. Damien was still young, and sometimes sneaked into the salon. Claire liked Damien. He was sleek and black, with a few white bits on his legs, and eyes the color of olive oil.
Annie turned, surprised at the question. “I haven’t seen him today. Must be sleeping somewhere.”
Near the end of her appointment, while Claire sat still, head bent down so Annie could trim her neckline, a French door connecting the salon to the house creaked and the cat walked in, tail high. Since she was facing the floor, Claire saw Damien and announced his presence, “There he is! How’s my boy?”
Damien stopped where he stood and hissed. He never did that. “What?” Annie was confused. “Damien, stop that. You know Claire!” He hissed again, and the hair along his back rose. Annie moved around the salon chair, comb and scissors in her hands. “Out! Out!” She guided Damien with her foot back toward the door he’d entered and flipped the latch to lock the door after him. “I don’t know what’s gotten into him,” she said as she returned to her work.
As Claire paid and put on her coat to leave, she said, “See you in a couple months?”
“See you then.”
A week later, Annie saw Claire’s obituary in the paper. “Whoa! Poor Claire!” she exclaimed over morning coffee with her mom. Damien jumped into her lap and purred. He’d tried to warn her that her time was almost up. Humans never listen.
It's FICTION FRIDAY!
Every Friday, a new flash fiction story, inspired by reader comments. Feel free to leave a prompt for future use in the comments below.I'm almost out of prompts. I hope you liked that story, based on the prompt "a cat" given during the A to Z Challenge by Jamie (of Uniquely Maladjusted But Fun) on my "O" post (here).
If you choose to join in for Fiction Fridays, post a link to your story below in the comments. Next week's prompt is: workaholic. If you join me next week, be sure to come back and share a link to your story!