There’s a Fruit Pastille in the cat’s bowl by Mark deMeza


Short Fiction by Mark deMeza

“Ah, you want to go out and explore, old fellah? Lucky you! Let me know if you see anybody out there who may want to pop in for a cup of tea.”

I let him out and return to my sofa.

From here, I can survey the whole of my domain; kitchen, lounge and bedroom all in view. There are only two doors; one leads to my bathroom, the other to the forbidden world outside. My apartment’s neutral; from the pale blue lino in the kitchen merging imperceptibly into the thin piled carpet of the lounge to the surrounding walls painted a sea of drowning grey.

If it wasn’t for the pictures on the walls, it’d be drab. My favourites are the ones of kids and grandkids. Over the last weeks, I’ve taken some of them down and examined them more closely. I have time now. Though I probably had time before as well. They’ve kept me acquainted with my family; otherwise, their faces become so fuzzy so quickly.

The phone is no good, it’s a muffled drone, pierced by the odd understood word.

My only photo of Kim is in an unpolished silver frame and stands on the table, right beside me. Our wedding day. She never becomes fuzzy, and I always talk to her, though I know she isn’t real. Like the telly, like the radio. Toby is the only living thing with me.

About once a week, there will be a knock at the door, and when I open there’s a bag of food for me, bread and milk and some ready meals. But nobody’s there. I can hear the footsteps of the delivery man receding into the distance. That’s my contact with the physical world outside. An echo.

On the table, there is an assortment of sweets in a bowl. I notice the packaging of the remaining Fruit Pastilles. I tear open the wrapper and allow the sweets to cascade out. There are four left: orange, lime and two lemon. No blackcurrant.

I look over at the cat’s bowl. I pick up a piece of paper and a pen and start writing. I carefully and slowly draw up two headings; “Reasons to eat Toby’s blackcurrant Fruit Pastille” and “Reasons not to eat Toby’s blackcurrant Fruit Pastille”

11 September 2020