I hear the cry at 3 a.m. and go upstairs to be with our old cat. I stroke his cheek. He lifts his head, his eyes adjusting to the living world, having been staring at death. He’s going and I am with him here in this final note, a single cry, and I stroke him so he knows he’s not alone, and maybe this is all we can do, the two of us waiting together on the living room floor. Wind picks up on the water. The ramp from the dock to our houseboat moans. Wood stairs creak, and I am thinking, what did I expect, that we would live forever?
Maybe this is forever. Whatever forever is. How many stories have I written with him across my lap? Now this one, with him at my feet, unable to make the leap. When things happen to me in this life I often realize mid-way through that I have already written about them. Not exactly per se, but metaphorically, which is what counts in the big picture—not line breaks or thru-lines or craft aesthetics, itself not very aesthetic as labels go; but metaphor, sweet symmetry, understanding.
Thirty years ago I published my first story, “What They See When They’re Dying,” in Alchemy Magazine at San Francisco State. Who knows if the magazine is still around. Hope so. But that story still is, a story about being with a friend whose cat, also a tabby, is dying. That friend, Doris, is long gone. Her cat, Dorothy, as well. Now our Little Bud is departing. And I am living that story once more. Someday it’ll be my turn. Someday yours. Maybe this is what everlasting means—we write the stories, we live the stories, we live the stories we write, once more, with feeling. Maybe this is what we call forever.
—In memoriam Little Bud, aka Cap’n Orange (b. 2000; d. 10-10-2019). See also
Lion Has Lost His Roar (in Issue 12 of KYSO Flash and in print:
teaches “low fat fiction” and is the author of four collections of short
Grace (KYSO Flash Press, 2019), Soundings and Fathoms: Stories (Finishing
Line Press, 2018), House Samurai (Iota Press, 2006), and Parts &
Labor (Thumbprint Press, 1992). His stories have appeared in dozens of venues
including Carve, daCunha, Flashback Fiction, KYSO Flash, Sea Letter, Third
Wednesday, and Exposition Review, where he was twice a Flash 405 winner.
In 2018, his flash was nominated for the Best of the Net anthology.
Born in the Chihuahua desert near the Mexican border, Guy grew up on a stingray in
Ventura, learned to write in the Peace Corps during a civil war in Guatemala, honed his
craft pulling weeds and planting flowers as a gardener in San Francisco, and later
received his M.A. from San Francisco State, where his teaching career began.
He’s been a creative-writing midwife since 1991.
Guy lives on a houseboat with his wife and a salty cat, and walks the planks daily.
It’s all true, especially the fiction.
Author’s website: https://www.guybiederman.com/
This Day Afloat: Reflections of Life on the Water,