She stares at me, terrified.
As well she should be. Yes, both of us know, all too well: she is the stranger around here. She would be gone before the day is over. I am the one who never leaves.
“Really,” I insist, over her silence. “There’s no such thing as nine lives.”
She leans back, sinking deeper and deeper into the frayed cushion, not doing much of anything except breathing heavily. Naturally, it annoys me. Hell, it sucks the air out of my lungs. The danger of oxygen deprivation does not occur to me at first. But if there is one thing I have come to hate more than her breathing heavily, it is me, having to hold my breath.
So many months have passed since I smelled fresh air. Come to think of it, it must have been years since I crossed the threshold, since I stepped outside, into the sunlight, which—as I remember—is so warm, so gloriously magnificent. Yes, it must have been decades since I sunk my paws into the moist ground outside, or lifted my eyes to the blue sky, or chased birds. I remember how, having caught them, I would ruffle their feathers, and lick their throats ever so playfully.
Being locked here I have managed to squash these memories. I have grown quite resigned, somehow, to the stale perfume rising here, from these blankets, which she now gathers around her.
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