where cats die

When my heart broke I felt an instinctive need to retreat somewhere where I could die in solitude.

First I hid in the aerated folds of a pile of fresh laundry, behind a rattling washing machine. But the laundry slots in my apartment building only run for three hours, so eventually my neighbour walked in and he did not appreciate me taking up all the space on the table where he wanted to segregates his laundry.

I wondered onto the streets and just a little further out onto the cliffs overlooking the city. It was a cinematic place to die, but there was already someone there: an alcoholic. He was dying too, though very slowly.

I waited for a bus and rode it as far as it would go but it turns out that like my life  buses go in predestined circles. I ended up exactly where I left off.

I walked until the cobblestone streets changed into industrial concrete, and then along the edges of the highway where I considered becoming roadkill and then, further, into the woods that brimmed the city.

In the woods I saw the first cat. This cat was an orange tabby and it eyed me suspiciously and then limped slowly further into the thicket. Respectfully I took a different route, over some mossy rocks and through a ditch dappled with mushrooms. I considered lying under an old log to die but then I noticed a black furry tail stick out of a crack on the side of it. The tail was so slight and the fur so delicate that I first thought it was just some mould on the log. I didn’t know how long I would have to wait for my turn and anyway, it felt vaguely unoriginal to die in the same place as the cat so I kept going instead.

The further I went the more cats I began to find - there were tens of them, and they frequented all the best hiding places. The cragged cracks of tree-trunks. Under big hulking boulders. Coiled into thick roots dipping in and out of the earth.

I walked on. Cat skeletons crunched under my feet. I poked my head into a naturally formed cave where the living and dead cats made a carpet on the floor, a matted furry shivering heap from which a few cat heads distinguished themselves - hissed at me, weak but angry.

Further in the woods I found a little stream lined with white flowers in which floated the souls of recently deceased cats: all sheer and silky and translucent, like scraps of silk, meowing gently as they slipped downstream. I followed the water: the sounds of mewing grew more intense, as if the current was nearing its estuary. The cats in the water stirred, frothed, purred.

I came to the edge of the treeline where the streams ran into a wide sea and where the cuts rushed into the water and began slowly evaporating into the air. The sunset coloured them in peachy and rosy shades: the sea was the colour of milkshake.

I sat down on the banks and watched. I felt a little like I was interrupting something holy.

I took out my phone and idly watched a video of a cat play with yarn. It was hard to get reception so I turned back. From the edge of the forest I called my mom: I want to come home.