The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Winter Story
house was small, actually just a cottage, gray and fading into
the white and gray winter landscape. The wind sighed in the tall
old fir trees behind the house with its sad, dark windows. Snow
had blown smoothly all over the meadow in the front of the house.
The trees had been covered by heavy snow, but the wind kept blowing
it away, soon leaving the branches bare and naked.
Frozen red berries
in the rowan tree were the only color in the landscape. The ice covered
shiny clusters automatically made me wonder if there were foxes living
in the woods near by.
I stopped for a while and stood in the snow as if wondering whether
to go farther. A sudden shiver went through my body. It wasn't because
I was cold, it was the realization that I had finally reached this house,
my father's house, my father whom I had hardly even known.
A dead hare was hanging by its hind legs on the wall next to the door.
I stared at its cold and stiff body in sadness and almost horror. Noticing
a spot of brownish dry blood close to its shoulder blades, I figured
out that a single shot had killed the hare, interrupted its run forever.
I didn't know that my father had been a hunter. What did I actually
know about him?
I moved my gaze from the dead hare to the window and my eyes met the
curious yellow eyes of a gray cat who was sitting on the window sill,
partly behind a white lace curtain.
My father had died suddenly, I was told, falling down on the kitchen
floor losing consciousness, never waking up. I felt strange and numb.
I thought I should mourn, but I only felt empty and oddly cold inside.
We had never been close, our words had been polite and our phrases fumbling.
A crow cawed in the rowan tree. Its voice was mournful. I turned to
looked at it, and it flapped its wings and cried as if it were aware
of being watched. It cocked its head, and now it was I who was being
observed. I was an intruder; I was a stranger here. I didn't belong.
A woman, my father's second wife, answered the door and invited me in.
She was heavy and slow in her movements, and there was something awkward
in her way of showing me in as if she were uncomfortable having me in
the house. We had met before a few times, and there had been this uneasiness
between us. I had always sensed that she didn't like me but was polite
enough, for my father's sake, to treat me well.
This woman was big but quiet, her voice was thin and almost plaintive.
There was something horribly empty in her pale blue eyes and her sad
sagging face framed by long graying reddish hair. I felt pity for her.
She served me a cup of coffee. Her chubby hands were shaking slightly,
and I saw tears in her eyes. I sat on the couch and felt obligated to
say something comforting.
We drank coffee in silence. Only the clock was ticking on the wall.
She sat in the chair next to the window wringing her hands.
The cat's silhouette showed behind the lace curtain. I remembered that
the cat was the reason I came. She had called me and asked if I could
take care of it because she really didn't like cats. If I couldn't take
it, she was planning to let the neighbor shoot it.
She turned to me and sighed heavily, dabbed her eyes with a white and
blue handkerchief. I put my cup down on the table and waited, holding
"Your father was lying on the kitchen floor. He was trying to say
something but the words didn't want to come out right." She paused
and dabbed her eyes again. It felt as if a boulder had rolled over my
"His voice was so weak that I had a hard time hearing what he tried
to say. Finally I understood that he wanted you to have the cat because
you are an animal lover."
I was amazed and a little confused. How did he know about my love for
animals? What else did he know about me? Did my father know that I had
been looking for him, or someone like him, all my life?
I drank the second cup of the bitter tasting coffee in a hurry, almost
burning my mouth. I told her I had to get going, I had a long drive,
and I had heard on the radio that a snowstorm was coming. I wasn't a
good driver, and driving these narrow roads was scary any case. She
didn't seem to mind I was leaving. I actually think she was relieved
that I would leave and take the cat with me.
I walked in the snow carrying the cat in a box with a few holes in it.
She put her nose in one of the holes and sniffed the air. I felt her
moist nose on my bare wrist. I had forgotten to ask what the cat's name
was. I turned my head to see if the woman was in the window, but the
windows were empty, black sad holes in the gray wall. No one was there.
Only the dead hare hang on the wall.
A couple of crows flew over us and landed in the hedges behind the shed.
They too sounded happy to get rid of me and the cat, who had certainly
been a menace. They flapped their shiny black wings as if telling us
to go away.
© Marja Hagborg May 2005
See also Cat's
Paw by Maja Hagborg
Marja is a Scandinavian born slacker/writer/artist living in Chicago.
all rights reserved