Sunday June 26th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the stray.

It was a hot one today. Did manage to finally rototill the paths in our veggie garden before the heat got excessive. We didn't plant much but I'm still doing a fine job of neglecting it. Hoping to get on top of things this week.

Not even going to talk about how far behind on replying to comments I am...


"She's back again."

"That's nice." Dale didn't need to ask who his wife was talking about. He knew. "She better not be pregnant again."

"Doesn't look it."

"That's what you said last time." Dale turned to the next page in the local newspaper and began reading an opinion piece about the town council. The author, unsurprisingly, was not a supporter.

"Oh, come on Dale. We both know you thought those kittens were danged cute."

"I never said no such thing." Despite his best efforts, a small smile appeared on his face. He tried to erase it with a sip of coffee and was only partially successful.

"She's making herself comfy by the woodpile. Do you think she'll be all right there?"

"She ain't our danged cat, Violet. What's it matter to us if she's all right or not?"

"Well, somebody ought to be looking out for her. And if she keeps coming back to us then it's safe to say nobody else is."

"She's a cat, Violet. She can take care of herself. Probably has an owner somewhere doing their level best to keep her happy and she's too high and mighty to approve of their work. Cats are like that."

"Oh, what do you know about cats anyway? Your family only ever had dogs when you were growing up. You're just being racist against cats, that's all."

"I don't think racist is the word you're looking for," Dale muttered but Violet was already out the kitchen door, heading for the woodpile with a saucer of milk. "Ah hell, here we go again..."


Greg said...

I'd say you're catching up again on the comments though :) And it's nice to get a longer piece from you again. I confess, I didn't guess what you were talking about until you mentioned it was a cat -- I don't know if it says more about me or you that I was expecting it to be a family member! I like Dale more than I like Violet, but I think you may have constructed the story to lead to that outcome. The description of the cat is very well done, and when I went back and re-read it knowing that detail it was worth the re-read :)

The stray
Anthony looked through the dining room door and passed by, heading towards the drawing room. Elizabeth, a step behing him, also glanced in but she halted, looking at the scene therein.
Tall blue candles burned in silver candelabras, three of them spaced equally along a long, walnut table. Around the table eight corpses lolled; heads tilted back and sightless eyes aimed at the ceiling. A black tongue poked out of one mouth, and a puffy hand was set on a plate further round, stopping the obese man from rolling over and out of his seat. Food was already laid out, and the underbutler, who looked as though he wasn't throwing up only by making an enormous effort, stood at the sideboard ready to serve the food from the warming dishes. He looked up and saw Elizabeth and gestured to her seat at the right of the table's head.
"I should wait for Anthony," she said, trying to smile through the horror. The underbutler nodded and she felt terrible.
"Actually," she said, "I'm sure he won't be more than a moment." It took an effort of will to make her legs move, but once she was walking it was the easiest thing in the world to go in and sit down. The underbutler gave her a conspiratorial grin and then went back to checking over the hot food.
Anthony arrived a minute later and seemed to have no trouble sitting down with the corpses of his family. In his hands was a brown envelope.
"You can serve," he said to the underbutler. "None of us wants this to go on any longer than it has to." He held up the envelope and handed it to Elizabeth.
"What's this?"
"The stray," said Anthony. "Mother was always rumoured to have had an illegitimate child she wouldn't talk about, and it turns out to be true. She's not here, I've checked with the butler, so there's competition for the inheritance."
"I see," said Elizabeth, not understanding at all.
"At the very least we can't bury the bodies until she's turned up and eaten her herself," said Anthony. "It's a tricky situation. Oh, you should definitely have the sprouts, they're cooked in bacon fat and brandy."
"I see," said Elizabeth. She felt bemused.
"I think the right thing to do might to be find her ourselves," said Anthony. He picked a knife up. "Some things can't wait."

Marc said...

Greg - thank you! I quite enjoyed re-reading this myself, actually :)

Goodness me, this is not a scene I want to have any part of. I'm pretty sure I'd have gone running from the house...

And that poor underbutler! At least he has an ally in Elizabeth, for all that she's clearly out of her depth here.