The puzzle pieces were scattered across the cherry floor when I arrived home, little disconnected bits of hobbits and horses and forest glaring up at me. Damn cats! I was almost finished, too.
As I began trying to salvage the larger sections and locate all the smaller ones, I heard it – the muffled rumble from upstairs, like something being dragged across the carpeted floor.
The cats hadn’t been inside last night. Remus and Sirius’s tearing around the house had finally irritated me so much that I had thrown them outside. Slowly I stepped backward far enough to peek out the window while still keeping the stairs in view. A light thud came from the ceiling. The girls’ cars were both gone. I was home alone.
I stared at the ceiling, frozen. This was silly. Obviously, someone else let the cats in. They knocked over the puzzle and then ran up the stairs. Every sci-fi book I had ever read, every detective movie I had ever watched had prepared me for an Occam’s razor event – the simplest explanation is often correct.
“Often.” That was a problem. What if today wasn’t one of the often? What if today wasn’t cats? What if today was murderous, burgling rapists like the cases that occasionally showed up on the news? That happens!
I should get out of the house and call the police. Halfway to my car, it occurs to me… Philip! Maybe he’ll come home from work and see if it’s… cats. And then tease me until I die. That’s ridiculous. I don’t need my husband to come home and see if our own cats are upstairs. I can do that without any assistance, thanks.
At least the police would go home afterwards and not harass me until the end of time. Or… do I really want to end up going viral as the woman who called the cops on her cats?
I turned back to look at the house. No violent maniacs glowered at me through the upstairs window. I took a few tentative steps toward the front door.
My, look at all the cobwebs in the corner of the doorjamb. Is that the beginning of a paper wasp nest under the eaves? Spring will be here soon (three months really isn’t that long). Maybe I should sweep the porch and rearrange the outdoor furniture to make it look more inviting. We may want to sit out here next time we have company over.
I shivered and pulled the jacket I hadn’t bothered to zip more tightly around myself. This was silly. I can’t stand on the porch all morning because Sirius and Remus knocked over my puzzle.
I flung open the door and marched straight on through the living room and up the stairs to the girls’ room. I almost marched straight on through the living room and up the stairs. My brain wanted to go up the stairs. My feet decided to detour to my and Philip’s bedroom so my hands could liberate Philip’s utility knife from his sock drawer.
Weaponry acquired, I tiptoed up the stairs and slowly pushed open the door. **creeeeeakkkk** I jumped. All else remained silent. With my knife ready for stabbing bad guys, I peered past the door and slid into the room.
The girls’ laundry was strewn about the room; and various schoolbooks, art projects, and school supplies littered the desks and beds. Though the room certainly looked like it had been ransacked by robbers, the evidence was inconclusive. This level of disarray matched my daughters’ habitual bedroom style. Well, almost. The lamp that usually lived on the corner table as splayed on the floor. Its ceramic base was cracked.
I slunk past the beds and desks and rounded the corner to the last remaining hiding spot. I edged open the closet door. Nothing.
As my muscles slowly unknotted and the tension leached away, I folded my knife and tried not to feel silly. The two cats slept on the bed, curled together in a ball. The girls must’ve let them in when they left for school.
Between piles of snoozing fur lay a third creature, tiny and helpless. Tiny and helpless and dead – a half-eaten rabbit kit. I sighed. Murderers had been upstairs after all.
Some days I do a lot of staring. I stare at out the window, at the blank wall, at the cobwebs I should be sweeping off the ceiling. I stare because writing presents too many choices, too many characters and subplots and arcs. Where do I begin today? So, I begin with writing warm-up, like wind-sprints to wake up my brain and remind it to focus. I don’t edit them, and they are often short and non-sensical. Occasionally they are sublime.