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Friday, 01 April 2011

In the Darkness of Night, All Birds are Blackbirds

By Eleanor Gang of Cassandra's Tears

No moon illuminated the garden, the only sources of light were the pinpoints of fireflies flashing for their mates — or the decoys that made meals of would-be suitors — and the eyes of the cat as it stalked through the underbrush in search of its own nocturnal nosh.

Louise sat on the porch swing and pulled her shawl closer around her shoulders. The sun had set hours ago bathing the yard in pinks and yellows then slowly, colours had faded and the sky had gone from blue to mauve to silver to black.

There were fireflies in the woods and fireflies up above; the former winking on and off, the latter twinkling in their distant constellations.

It’s getting chilly, thought Louise. I should go inside, turn on a light, wash up the dinner dishes, start on my mending. Still she sat. The cat materialized in front of her and rubbed its dew-laden fur against her shins. She reached down and scratched behind its ears. It dropped something at her feet and she could barely see the offering of a mouse, its neck broken.

“I’ve had my supper, Puss,” Louise said. “You eat it.”

Puss picked up the small limp body and carried it to a far corner of the porch to consume it. Louise looked away even though the darkness hid the carnage.

She gazed up at the stars and felt small and helpless and lonely. Once George would have sat here with her, pointing out the constellations, telling her stories about Orion chasing the Pleiades or Pegasus throwing off Bellerophon as he attempted to storm Olympus.

He would have pointed out the Summer Triangle, the Eagle’s Eye. She looked for the red star that was Antares but couldn’t find it. She looked for George among the pinpoints of light but he wasn’t there either.

Oh, George, she thought. You weren’t supposed to go without me. We made a deal.

The cat finished its meal and came and sat next to its mistress, delicately washing paws and whiskers. Who would have thought such a fastidious, affectionate creature could dispatch small woodland creatures so efficiently and cold-bloodedly? A little Grim Reaper.

At home, does the gatherer of souls take off his robe, hang his scythe on a nail, put on a woolen sweater and sit on a rocker by the fire, then put his feet up and relax from a hard day of reaping?

Does his wife bring him hot cider like I used to bring George? Does he have a cat? Louise reached down to scratch Puss again and was rewarded by a lick from its rough pink tongue.

“I’m going in, Puss,” she said, “it’s cold. Are you coming?” She got off the porch swing, which creaked under the sudden shift in weight and for a moment she thought George was beside her in the darkness.

No. It was just darkness. From the apple tree a night bird sang. A blackbird, for all she could see.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


This may be the most beautiful short story I have ever read; wonderful writing, touching moments, cats, life is good...thank you for starting my day off with good karma..think it is first time I ever saw your name too...nice to meet you..Mary

Splendid story. Let's read more of your writing. Eleanor.

Just lovely. A moving, evocative piece. More please!

This was beautiful! Hope to see more of you in the future!

Beautifully written and so touching.

Thank you.....

Really lovely piece, Eleanor. I enjoyed the ebb and flow of Louise's thoughts and how they reflected on her loss. Beautiful.

Eleanor, you have the gift of getting and keeping my interest all through the story. Thank you.

Please enrich us again.


I agree with Mary. What a beautifully written story. Sad and true and yet somehow uplifting.

The passing of a day. The passing of a spouse. Life and death between cat and mouse. George left leaving Eleanor in a dark place. Still it seems he left her with the ability to see all the beauty of the night plus Puss for a living companion. Thanks for taking us there with you. The only thing is now we don't know where you are. Someplace comfortable, I hope.

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