“May I have a glass of milk, please?”
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“May I have a glass of milk, please?” she repeated.
I was quite surprised. My cat had never before said a single word in English, let alone a complete sentence. I did the only thing I could do; I got her a glass of milk. I put the milk down in front of her. She dipped her paw in the glass and licked the milk off of it. I kept looking at her, my mouth wide open.
“No opposable thumbs,” she said, after seeing I was still staring at her.
I shook my head, trying to clear it, and said, “No. I’ve seen you drink out of a glass before. I’m still a little amazed you’re speaking to me.”
“Well, that’s a little secret. In fact, I could have my cat card revoked for speaking in front of a human being.”
“You have a cat card?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head, “I was speaking figuratively.”
“Oh. But you could get in trouble?”
“You know all those strays… well…”
“Oh. Well, then why are you talking to me?”
She sat down and, ignoring her milk, she looked straight at me. I could have sworn I heard her sigh.
“I thought it was important to tell you,” she began. “We need to talk.”
“Maybe you don’t know this, not talking to humans much and all, but no good conversation ever starts with that sentence,” I said.
Shaking her head, she turned back to her milk. She dipped her paw in and licked the milk off of it. Then she looked back at me. I waited to hear what she was going to say.
“It’s over. I’m sorry.”
“What?” I asked, amazed.
“It’s not you. It’s me. I just can’t go on like this anymore. I need more. You have your friends and your work. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. There isn’t. But all I have is you. I define myself by you. I’m not Fluffy. I’m Joe’s cat. That was enough for a while. But now I need more. I have to find myself.”
She looked down at the milk, not drinking it, just contemplating it. I was shocked to say the least. Never before had Fluffy said a word. And now, she opened her mouth and laid all of this on me.
“So, then,” I said, “that’s it. You’re leaving me. You’ve made up your mind. There’s nothing I can say to change it, is there?”
“Where will you go?”
“Joe,” she said, looking up at me and then looking back down at the milk, “there’s someone else. You have to believe me, I didn’t plan it this way.”
Now, I was furious. I was willing to be civil, maybe in hopes she would be back soon enough. But she had another owner on the side. And that was an indignation I was not willing to take.
“Fine! Go! But don’t think you’re taking anything. I loved you! I supported you! And you went and found someone else! You go, then! But don’t even think about taking the catnip sock! That’s mine!”
I got up and opened the front door. And she walked out of my life forever.