★ ★ ★ ★


Image by Priyadharshan Saba

‘The things we do for loves’

When Julie walked into the kitchen, she found Michael switching on the food processor.

“What are we having?” she asked

“Nothing…it’s not for us,” he said.  “I found a recipe for cat food.”

“We have plenty of cat food,” she said, her voice slightly raised. 

“Yes,” Michael said, “but I was reading this article about cats and how it’s better for them to eat stuff which isn’t ultra-processed. Everything in here…” he waved a mixing bowl full of a pink mass under her nose, “is completely natural.” Then he handed her a printed recipe: salmon patties, with porridge oats, chopped vegetables, and beaten eggs. In the accompanying photographs, the patties were shaped to look like mice. Julie looked at him over the top of the paper, shook her head slightly and left the room.

The cat, Sylvia, had been hers before she and Michael got together. Julie had rescued it as a kitten, and when Michael first came to the house he brushed cat hair vigorously from a chair and claimed to be “more of a dog person”; within six months, however, he had replaced a screensaver of Julie alone with a photo of her holding Sylvia – and most of the image was Sylvia.

Treacherous Sylvia, meanwhile, would still jump up onto Julie’s lap in the evening as they sat on the sofa – but now she was only a stepping stone to Michael. And it was Michael who Sylvia woke in the early hours of the morning, sitting on his chest and biting his nose until he got up to feed her. Michael, whenever Sylvia responded to his advances, would smile across at Julie as if the cat had just given him a reference.

The only thing that matters, Julie would remind herself frequently, is that she’s a happy cat. I mustn’t be jealous of a cat’s affection. 

When Julie went back into the kitchen later, Michael was guarding twelve tiny pink and beige salmon patties, which were cooling on a tray. He put one in a saucer and lay it at Sylvia’s feet.

“Here you go, princess,” he said. 

Sylvia sniffed at it, looked up at Julie and Michael, and then gave a loud miaow. She walked away from the saucer, and stood on her hind legs by a store cupboard. 

“Miaow…” she cried again.

Michael, watched, arms folded and brows furrowed; he glanced quickly at Julie, but Julie was keeping her eyes on the cat. 

“She probably just needs to get used to it”, she said, still not looking at Michael. “Why don’t you put some of her usual food on the plate? She might eat it then.”

He did, and they both watched as Sylvia ate her way precisely around the patty until that was the only thing left on the dish.

Michael sighed.

“What did you say was in these?” Julie asked, picking up one of the patties from the tray.

“Nothing,” he said; he was now looking away from both of them; “just salmon and egg, and veg, and some porridge oats.”

Julie took a bite. “Not bad.,” she said. “Needs salt, but I think they’ll be nice with a mayonnaise dip…Let’s have dinner.”

Victoria is a writer and photographer from Cambridge, UK; she writes short stories and flash fiction.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.