This time boy is up late, real late, watching meaningless video clips and refusing to think. Girl is passed out in the guest room, reeking of desperation and full up with bile.
The Animal bounds up the stairs, peeks his head around the door. Boy sees something in his mouth. No, not something — Animal’s most prized possession. A jingle from the bell on its braided tail as he drags it about. The pitter-patter of his supple paws.
He is just a little cat, and he does not like the shouting and the stomping and the slamming of doors. He wants to give his Mama comfort in the only way he knows how, he wants to share his favorite thing in the world.
She does not hear his mews and calls, does not respond to the scratching at the door. He cannot curl up beside her, for she is not herself.
The Animal leaves his mouse gently in a safe corner and visits Boy instead. I’m sorry, says Boy, please, please don’t be sad. The Animal makes a sound, a guttural noise, not quite a growl. Boy lifts his arm to give Animal comfort; is met with the sharpest of claws. Cheeks wet, he does not pull away.