“Cats” by Misareliz Rodriguez

“Cats”

She sat there motionless, a million memories rushing through her mind like a flood. Her hands, white and cold, did not move from her dark and long skirt that hid her feet. She was dressed in a long sleeved shirt that hid her figure completely. It was the same color of her eyes, eyes that did not waver. She heard the whispers, felt them touch her skin but paid no attention. Her mind was elsewhere. The court was full, strangers filling the hallways and seats, an air of awkwardness moved through the whole place. Everybody was scared but curiosity killed the cat and Tammy Monroe had killed many of her own, or at least that is how the rumor goes. She moved into the small town when her parents died, but unlike with her parents, the town saw Tammy as a pest.

It was not like that at the beginning, the townspeople did their best to welcome her in. They made a welcome party which she did not attend. They visited her home, brought her food, invited her to church but she refused it all. The town was perplexed with her attitude not understanding why she acted that way. They branded her as rude, ill-mannered, a person to not surround yourself with. Things only got worse after that; Paul Stuart, son of Jamie a well known farmer, noticed how every Thursday night she would pass by the park where he practiced and walk all the way into the small forest that surrounded the park always dressed in a red shirt with black trousers. He found the ordeal to be quite strange and told his mom about it, who told Linda- that had questioned weeks ago why the amount of stray cats were starting to diminish.  The seed was planted and the rumor grew as high and mighty as the imagination of the people permitted it to. It did not help that with her arrival the crops in the town, their main income, were starting to wither and die. People started getting sick and their economy plummeted. All fingers pointed to her and her late night walks. The annoyance turned into hate and fear of what she could do. Years past and the attitude did not change. The people feared her and stayed away closing their curtains when they saw her. No one dared pronounce her name or look at her while she passed on the street, a clowder always surrounding her. Until one frightful day when a small child appeared, as if out of thin air- dressed completely in white without any bags or shoes- and walked all alone to the house and did what no one else dared to do, knock on Tammy Monroe’s door, who took her in no questions asked. She was white as a cloud, her hair ginger red and was always dressed in white. In school, she sat in the back and never went out to play, always sitting alone staring at the walls. On Thursday they would walk hand in hand into the small forest. No one dared get close to her, let alone touch her; the kids knew they had to keep their distance if they did not want anything bad to happen. That made Tommy fear for his life, who had tripped making the small shelf behind him fall on top of her, bruising her. He went home not telling his mom anything, praying fervently to be saved. The next few weeks he expected something to happen, but she did not even look at him when she passed the front gates of the school. He felt relieved and went to tell his mother who relish on the information, telling everyone what had happened.

Tommy felt a kind of victory, not fearing for his life he started to push her enjoying her reactions. Sometimes she looked surprised other times hurt but her expression would always return to that of neutrality. The other kids saw what he was doing and joined in, years of being told how Tammy Monroe ruined their little town, caused them to take out that anger on the girl. A girl who never said anything nor tried to fight back. The adults turned a blind eye to all that was done to the girl, who unlike Tammy Monroe, was starting to be seen as a defenseless monster. The years went by, the town shivered when Tammy Monroe passed down the street but they would all put their feet out to trip the girl who walked behind her, it seemed that the only witnesses were the cats, that would hiss and show claws whenever she got hurt. They questioned why Tammy Monroe did nothing to defend her and saw her as a bad caretaker, a witch, a monster. A whisper would pass through her ear “Freak!” another stumbled its way out of Tommy’s lips “Witch.” Words would flow gently from others tongues and land on the girl as a tattoo. Some started to believe she was not human. What human child would react that way to being attacked? It was odd, weird for her not to fight back, but this did not make them stop, only worsen the way they treated her. Her, who on a Sunday morning ran down the street of the town, screeching, covered in blood. The sight of her made the townspeople shiver in fear. Her white dress was ragged, parts slit, and it was almost completely red. Her hair was matted with blood and her feet left red footprints as she ran. She held her hands out to the crowd as if begging for something; her ragged breath was the only thing you could hear, the town surrounded her, as she threw herself to the ground to weep. It was a pitiful sight. No one dared enter the house; the police was surprised with their findings. Blood covered the whole house. The walls, stairs, kitchen top, bathroom, every inch of the house had been marked, the foul smell of death brought the police a sense of dread. The house was dark and inside they could hear a faint voice and the purring of cats but Tammy Monroe’s body could not be found.

“Will you answer the question?” The girl looked back at the lawyer, she was unrecognizable. Her long red hair had been completely cut of; her once fair skin was now blemished, full of marks. She looked side way holding her hands closer to herself. The crowd was attentive moving to the edge of their seats, as if that would make them hear better. “I will ask again,” the lawyer spoke breaking the spell the crowd was under, “What occurred on the seventh of Saturday? Where is your caretaker?” She had been looking at the judge who urged her to answer. The people held their breath and cried at the sound of her voice. A voice never heard before, that sounded like the wind and thunder, each word she pronounced brought them closer to insanity. Images flowed through their minds of cats and a small white child. They all screamed out for mercy, falling to the floor. Her words became a jumbled of sounds to their ears, all of them writhing with pain. Tommy who felt hands pushing him down crawled through the floor pushing bodies out of the way, some looked as if they were dead while others convulsed on the floor, he took hold of the handle of the courtroom door and looked back to see her still sitting, her eyes moving from face to face looking at each of the citizens of the town as a small tear fell from her right eye falling on her skirt staining it red.

Misareliz Rodriguez

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