by Meg Pokrass
WHEN YOU RETURN TO UMA’S HOUSE, she and a girlfriend are drinking wine, cooing over a brochure of eye makeup shades. Uma’s girlfriend looks at you as if something is amiss. “You look cute today,” she says, slicing her eyes up at you. “Is that a new shade of lipstick?”
It’s very clear that she and Uma have been talking about you while you were walking from block to block, posting notices in hopes of finding a good home for you cat. Since the divorce, you don’t have a place for her or for yourself, which is how you came to be renting a room from Uma.
“I was just saying to Uma here that it’s too bad I can’t personally adopt Snowball,” the friend says. She looks you over with her pale gaze. A window is open and there is a smell of fallen leaves.
“But I just can’t,” she says. “We already have a cat. Her name is Sofa. We’d have to rename your kitty Ottoman! To go with Sofa.”
You sit on the floor, making your face neutral.
Five people have been on the verge of adopting Snowball and have backed out at the last minute. A husband said no, a kid developed an allergy, and three other potential adopters didn’t respond to your repeated calls and emails.
You would never want this rude person to adopt your cat. You have no idea why she thinks you’d want that.
“Can’t your husband keep her?” She says.
Uma must have told her that your ex has a more stable life, a well paying job, a lease, but he grew to dislike the cat because she reminded him of you.
You hold yourself back. Uma looks worried, pours another glass.
“Sorry, I’m really not in a very good mood,” you say. The room feels close. You wish there were more open windows. The friends go back to the eye shadow.
In your rented bedroom, you sit in a rocking chair next to a reading lamp. You remember the day, six years ago, you and your husband rescued Snowball from a shelter. How she looked like a cat from another century, round and lush, creamy white. She walked right over and smelled your lips, as if she already loved you.