The Petshop – 2

Flan woke up and glanced at a clock. She was late! She couldn’t believe it. She’s never been late. To anything. She rushed to get ready, went out the door and went to the bus stop. It came every ten minutes, so she should be fine. Seven minutes. Two minutes. Where is this bus? She looked at her watch. Then at the worn out bus timetable. Then at her watch. Negative five minutes. Negative ten minutes. Then back at the timetable. Then the church bell rang. Sunday! she yelled internally.

She went back to her apartment and made some coffee. She hated Sundays. She may be the only person to wish for a one day weekend. Not that she loved work, but she couldn’t handle Sundays. The smug chirp of birds, the arrogant smiles of churchgoers and all the strange shop hours.

Flan always thought about owning a cat. She was the sort to have one. No, her hair wasn’t a frazzled mess, in fact it was in a forever meticulously short bob. She just had the aura of a cat lady. Maybe you’re right, she was just lonely, that’s it. Nonetheless, she would soon be the owner of one of these felines.

As she drank her coffee, she folded her bed into the wall and stared out the window to the small park outside. She watched as an empty bus arrived and imagined making friends with the bus driver.  She always secretly wanted a black friend. Is that racist? she thought. She didn’t know. Flan really only had one friend, Suzanne, and even then she was more of an acquaintance. She kept watching as a grey cat strolled confident yet aimless under a bush, through the black barred fence into the small park and up the lone tree. There he waited. She assumed it was a he. Does that make me sexist? she thought. Her mind wondered until her coffee was cold. I hate Sundays, Flan sighed.

Suddenly she was out the door and passing shops as they were opening. The city was dead on a Sunday morning, or at least asleep. Lackluster voices arose from morning worshipers, Shame coming from such a magnificent building, she told herself. As she rounded the corner, her confidence grew, as did her posture and pace.

She arrived as the doors were being opened. West Petshop, read the sign. Pet shop*, she corrected in her mind. She went past to avoid human interaction and circled back after seeing the boy walk back in. She gently pressed the door, so not to attract attention. Then the bells attached to the door chimed loudly and a parrot greeted her with an ‘Ahh, hello!’ The boy turned around and his face lit up.

‘Hello! So nice to have a customer so soon. I’m always so bored. Can I help you find anything?’

His energy drained hers immediately, but at least he could point her in the right direction so she could get out sooner.

‘Where are the cats?’ Flan asked

‘Which kind?’ He beamed!

Oh no. He’s too excited. Kind? Just cat. ‘I was just going to find one that looked nice, thank you.’ She said resolutely. ‘Can you just point me to the cats?’

‘Oh, yes. Right this way,’ he said. ‘I’m Aaron, by the way. Did you know that some cats don’t even have hair?’

‘Is that right?’ she said unenthusiastically. I did say point me in the right direction right? Why is he coming.

‘Yeah. I’m not a cat person myself, but they are cute creatures. We have so many types of kittens and some older cats. Do you know what you want?

‘Just to see them,’ Flan said once again hoping he would just point her to them, or at this point leave because the purrs and meows were in earshot.

The boy didn’t get the hint, nor did he know much about animals, at least cats.

‘These cats are quite rare. They are bred to look like this. The Per-sian,’ he said reading the name off the placard.

She knew she could spot these cats anywhere, and even saw one perched in a window on the way. She resolved not to correct him for that would waste a useless amount of energy that he already took from her.

Flan didn’t see one that she connected with. Maybe that was due to this boy spouting off useless, incorrect information. When he was done reciting all his cat knowledge, she could see that he was proud at how much he thought he knew.

‘Can I have a minute to think about it?’ she asked in a final plea for him to leave her alone. He finally got the hint, yet only went a few feet away to the cash register and pretended to tidy things as he watched her.

Flan could feel his stare as she roamed from one section of cats to the next. Each purring with an occasional meow for attention, or freedom, she couldn’t yet tell. His stare got to her, so she thanked him and resolved to get none. She grabbed two bowls and a bag of cat food, paid for them and went home.

Outside her window was a fire escape where she placed the bowls of water and cat food and decided to let fate choose for her. She left the window cracked and started to read the newspaper.

Church was letting out, and the worshippers finally seemed to wake up as they went their separate ways. She just started reading the comics when fate had answered. A distant jingle from the street below was making its way toward her window, growing louder and louder until it suddenly stopped for a second and leapt to its final ascent to the third floor.

Slowly, she put the paper down and crept to the window. The grey cat from before was inches away. She watched as he lapped up the water interspersed in satisfied purrs. Slowly she began to open the window and he turned to look at Flan. Unfazed, he began eating the food. Gently, she reached to pet him and looked at the tag. CHAMP. She couldn’t think of a worse name, so she named him Darcy.

A knock at the door and Darcy was gone. Roy, she thought. She waited for the door to lose it’s company, as she daydreamed of how she was going to win over Darcy from his current owners.