>Stella, the Mother Cat


A tad of a chapter from Hot Love on the Wing:

 Stella’s routine was such that by eight or nine o clock she had those wide red Sauvignon splotches across her cheeks that showed, similar to the rareness of a steak, that she was not ready to be tried. At that point, the children avoided her having learned from years of verbal abuse. If they did have to ask a question, they were greeted with a strabismic glance and the kind of bobble headed shake that meant she was thinking of how to respond, and that it was not going to be a real answer, but an attempt at witty repartee – if she were in a good mood. In joviality she assumed any conversation was an attempt to test her, and her inability to cogitate resulted in one of her favorite aggressive lines. If she were stressed or broken down, the kids ran away, because like playing with broken glass, sooner or later you’re bound to bleed, and you should really just avoid it altogether, or if you’re responsible, clean it up instead.

On more than one occasion Gabriel came home from Buckley’s and, hungry for a snack, searched the refrigerator for food. The only noises she ever made were from the cracking of her joints as she walked and the light jingle of her gold bracelets, which she never took off. They consisted of  1. Tiffany bracelet with a quarter sized golden heart that she had received when she graduated nursing school, 2. a charm bracelet, (again, she was a fervent believer in superstition) 3. a thin gold bangle, 4. a twenty four karat chain, and 5. a white gold elliptical link bracelet.

All of this jewelry together gilded about four inches of her wrist. It made the sound of a bell on a cat’s collar, jangling with every movement, and my mother was the mother cat. They say that if you can take care of a cat,  you can take care of a woman – they’re so different from dogs, the way they sense negative energy and back away. They also say that cats have to feel comfortable with space, and that’s why when they do, they go around rubbing their cheeks on everything, which is where their pheromones are, so that it kind of becomes their property through their scent. Yes, to live with a cat can teach you a lot, and if you don’t like cats, it’s probably because you’ve never lived with one (or you’re allergic, and for people with allergies, I’m sorry).

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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