Инна Лайон - Love Catharsis

Love Catharsis

Инна Лайон

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Like all Russians, Simon loved borscht with sour cream, crepes with cottage cheese, and boiled eggs with caviar, preferably black. But Mary had calculated his BMI, considered him overweight, and put him on a diet. Preposterous. He didn’t need a diet. He was as gorgeous as Adonis, loyal as Lancelot, and affectionate as Romeo. Well-read and intelligent too. No female could resist his beautiful emerald eyes and loving smile, to say nothing of his shimmering coat. He was the finest example of the Russian Blue cat pedigree line.

His stomach growled—it was breakfast time, but he didn’t want to wake Mary yet. She smelled of lavender soap, warmth, and home. He had his own pet bed in the bedroom but preferred to crawl to her bed when he got cold or lonely.

He got cold and lonely a lot.

Mary’s cell phone vibrated, and the screen came to life with a new text message. Mary stirred, yawned, and stretched, trying to shake off the last images of dreamland. But Simon was quicker and fished her cell phone from under the pillow first. A text message from Mary’s new boyfriend, Vergenuis, read:

Vergenius: Mon Ami, would you like to go out tonight? How about the Fruits de Mer?

Seafood? What was this Frenchman thinking? Simon pushed the cell phone back under the pillow, but it was too late. Mary’s hand patted the bedding, then Simon’s furry shoulder, and groped the phone.

His perfect morning was destroyed. Simon rolled closer to touch Mary’s arm, hoping for a few strokes of her hand, but she was busy typing. Simon squinted his eyes and read Mary’s reply:

Mary: I have a marketing meeting until 7:00 p.m.

Vergenius: A quick bite at Nelson’s, then?

Mary: Remember, I’m a vegetarian.

Vergenius: I know just the place.

Mary chuckled and sat up, making it impossible for him to see her reply. Based on her bright face, nothing good. She shared her genuine full-hearted smile, which had always belonged to Simon, with an invisible suitor with a bizarre name—Vergenuis. Pffft. Very genius? Weirdo genius? What were his parents thinking?

"Simon, dear, breakfast." Mary’s voice coaxed him from the warmth of the bed. After a few lazy stretches and playing hard to get his attention, Simon trotted to the kitchen, salivating over the chicken liver pâté in his bowl. A closer look revealed minced cucumbers mixed in. Apparently, Mary hadn’t abandoned the idea of Simon losing a few ounces.

He was royalty, and Mary was his queen. When Simon first arrived as a scared little kitten in her modern two-bedroom Manhattan apartment, he detested her white furniture and the silence of the bookshelves. He dreamt of a companion—a lady cat to play with and cuddle, watch people outside, and try to catch a goldfish in tanks.

At first, he hid under the leather couch with his stuffed fox toy until Mary read aloud every evening, discussing novels and poems, addressing Simon as an interlocutor. Eventually, she’d won his heart with her kindness, intelligence, and soft-spoken voice. Rumor had it some Meow Mix kibbles were involved, but Simon would deny such an absurdity.

He jumped on the chair, knocking down a red pen and a few printed pages in protest of the presence of cucumbers in his breakfast.

He despised Mary’s work as a senior editor in a mid-size publishing agency. It came with countless hours of reading manuscripts. His aristocratic soul enjoyed Emerson more than Whitman and Oscar Wilde more than Thomas Hardy. He had no interest in the modern writer’s work. He could quote from Lord Byron and Emily Dickinson. Unfortunately, Mary could hear only a gentle purring. When his Russian genes called to him, he liked to chew on the collected works by Leo Tolstoy from the bottom shelf.

"I’m jumping in the shower. Be a good cat and eat your veggies. I love you, my knight in shining armor." She pet his shining coat and picked up the pages from the floor. "Don’t be jealous of my work. You know I love you more."

He closed his eyes to fully enjoy her humming Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 as she walked toward the bedroom.

Mary told Simon that his name meant “listener” in Hebrew and “flat nose” in Greek. Both fit.

On the days when Mary was not caught at work, they spent their evening together. They took turns choosing the books from Mary’s vast library. Simon usually rubbed his nose against his preferred literature, and Mary read it aloud. Last night, it was her choice. He had to listen to some teary romance, which was totally out of Mary’s character, but he was stoic to his Hebrew name and tolerated Jojo Moyes’s sad ending. Today was his choice, and he didn’t like the prospect of spending the evening alone.

Did she say yes to the dinner offer? Without a second to lose, Simon jumped on the counter. Mary’s phone was locked. A cat’s paw was no match for the human finger, but his dry nose was. Mary’s screensaver showed Simon sitting on a stack of books—royal posture, elegant tail. A few more touches on the passcode screen—Shakespeare’s birthday—and the message feed appeared.

Vergenius: Vegetarians have to eat, too, right?

Mary: Well, I’d planned to rest at home after a long day of meetings.