20 Minutes with Anne
Looking After Us.
By Rose Williams.
Whedon etc owns Buffy etc. Philip Pullman etc owns His Dark Materials etc. I
Another 20 minute challenge. Is in the same universe as my other ones. It
won’t make much sense as a story if you aren’t familiar with
* * * * *
Lily hadn’t been a strong girl. She’d been loyal, the woman
knew that, but she had needed Ricky to stay alive. The tattoo was still there,
testimony to an eternal love. She smiled at that. By the time she had the money
to have it removed she would probably want to keep it. Neither she nor Ricky
had said anything about an eternal love, but they had known that it was
As forever as it
needed to be; given their lives. Chantarelle had been an idiot, that was
obvious. But, the woman reminded herself, Chantarelle had also been lonely,
alone and desperate. The idea that death could be a break from the feelings of
helplessness had made sense.
But she wasn’t
helpless anymore. She was Anne. Anne had a job, a place with real bed sheets
and was able to look after herself, by herself. In the morning she would be
able to go to work. And she would be able to eat. Anne smoothed the material of
her top over her arm to hide the heart and curled up on the bed.
wasn’t so bad, she decided, when alone meant safe, warm, dry and quiet.
She was half asleep
and staring at the wall when a cat appeared. It was hard to see against the
grubby carpet. Anne sat up slowly to look at him. He looked like a miniature
version of a lion, except that he wasn’t quiet coordinated enough to pull
of the deadly grace, just yet.
Picking his way across
the carpet he butted his head against Anne’s shins. She smiled. Maybe she
wasn’t going to be alone after all. Lying back down she closed her eyes
and the cat curled up along her side.
He was gone in the
morning when she woke up. But it seemed that he was following her on the way to
work. She would occasionally see what looked like a patch of quick moving dusty
fur under bushes.
He appeared again that
night and demanded that she pet him. He purred as she stroked him. Slowly the
tension from the day drained out of her and she was left in her room with the
“Do you have a
name, cat?” she asked.
He didn’t move
his head from her hand.
“I could call
you, I don’t know, Minnow? My sister had a cat called Minnow for a few
Minnow licked her hand
as she moved to stroke him again.
He was gone in the
morning again, and appeared at night. Anne thought he must be able to open the
bathroom window. He never seemed to want food. She made sure, when she’d
known him about three weeks (was there propriety for meeting cats?), by bringing
him home a piece of the pie she had eaten for dinner. He ate it, but he
Slowly, as they spent
more time together she saw him more often as she left in the mornings, and
sooner after she had come home.
He always knew exactly
when she needed to lie and think, or leave again to walk around the streets.
She began to be able to read his moods too. He began to wake her up the
She didn’t know
when it happened, but one day she realised that he had been with her all day.
He spent her time at work in the backyard of the dinner, watching the birds.
Anne smiled when she
thought of him there. She wasn’t alone. He was taking care of her. Maybe
Buffy had a pet, too, she thought. Maybe Buffy was looked after by someone
else, which meant that she was able to look after other people so easily.
But if Minnow was
looking after her, then Anne didn’t need to look after herself. If Anne
didn’t need to look after herself, then she should be able to look after
other people. At least one other person.
She told Minnow about
it that night. He didn’t say anything, but he licked her hand and curled
up beside her to sleep. ‘Yeah,’ she thought. ‘I could look
after people. If Minnow looks after me.’