Just a funny little game.
My cat died today.
But I won’t believe it.
So I wrote it into my story, so now it is fiction.
‘Have you seen Harriet?’ Ashok’s voice was short, urgent, his face pulled stricken, but hopeful. We would have an answer. We would know that she was safe. ‘David?’ Dave would know where to find her. Harriet was definitely hiding behind Dave’s back, safe, Harriet there safe behind Dave’s back. ‘Have you seen her?’ His body was hot, trembling. His hands knew, his hands heavy, dropped at his sides, his hands knew where Harriet was, like a water stick, they knew where he would find her, so he couldn’t go there, he couldn’t go there on his own, just he and Harriet and the truth in the garden, which is why he was here asking us, asking us where he could find Harriet, asking us to tell him that Harriet was happy and well inside our house, hiding in a corner, waiting for him to come and find her because it was just a game, it was a game that he couldn’t find her, it was just for a minute, as a trick, and when the minute had passed he would find her and she would be so pleased to see him that they would hug for a week, the two of them there in the garden, just hugging, the two of them, Harriet with her face right next to his face so he could hear her laughing in her way about the funny game they had played when his hands had known that she was somewhere else, but she hadn’t been.
We all buried her, together at the back of his block, under a flowering cherry tree with a little stone garden, and Ashok held her in his hands forever, until she was buried, and until the sun had set, and until we had all gone home, and he held her like that until the world ended and she was really gone, and not just playing a game in the garden, hiding there in a corner, waiting for him.