Dusty Cat – South Coast Herald

The ground was quite low, the floral patterns small and fuzzy. I knew it was a bad idea once I reached the top. Mom will scream, dad will laugh. The bookcase shook as I readjusted. I had seen it done before, by the boy who is gone now. He was not afraid. He promised to teach me before he died but he never got the chance.

Maybe I should have left him, but I wanted him to be proud. He said he could see me. He was in the clouds, the wind and the dust, he would watch over me and protect me, he said.
Where was he now? I was going to fall out of the library and I knew the dust couldn’t catch me. I heard footsteps, the humans were at home. Mother and father could help me down. But I wanted to do it myself. I looked at the chairs and tables. Which one could I hit if I jumped hard enough? None. Stop being scared, I tell myself in the boy’s voice.

The wood was cool and slippery beneath me, its varnish reflecting the flickering candlelight. The smell of the books was warm and I wondered if I should stay here forever. I closed my eyes and replayed the boy coming down from the top shelf as if he was nothing more than a shadow. He used everything he had, everything he could see, everything he could reach.

His claws dug into the books on the shelf next to it, then he jumped to a lower shelf and onto the floor. He never missed. I would miss it. I fell and broke my bones and when I was also dust, the boy told me that I could have done it, if only I had believed that I could.

I can do it, I told myself, even though I hardly believed it, but my legs were still moving. I stood on the dark, slippery wooden bookcase and looked at the hard covers with the boys’ claw marks, the fabric frayed and torn. The footsteps grew louder, as did the voice of the boy in my head.

Jump, kitty, the boy in my head tells me, his own tail swaying back and forth, sending streaks of dust through the air.

I jumped, grabbing the books that were just too far away. The ground hit me fast and hard and stars swirled in my mind. I sat on the floor staring at the shelf, the boy’s voice still in my head.

Try again, little kitty. Try until you don’t have to anymore. I watched the dusty cat climb the books to the top and rest on the cool wood. I missed the boy but I believed him now. He was the wind and the clouds and the dust and he could see me.

I stood up, the humans running their fingers down my back to the end of my long black tail. My bones weren’t broken and the dust was floating in the air, waiting for me to try again. With the dusty cat sitting atop, I clambered over the books again and welcomed the dark, cool wood against my fur.

I watched the humans settle into their chairs. They missed the boy too. I knew I would fall again, and again, and again. But now I knew the dust would catch me.

* Megan Price is a self-published writer who lives in Trafalgar on KZN’s south coast. She has written numerous flash fiction stories, one of which won the Creative Writing Ink short story competition in 2022. She has also written and self-published a number of longer short stories and has sold some. copies all over the world.

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