“So tired,” the hunger exhausted him. He heard his stomach groaned painfully but Toru couldn’t move an inch. He was soaking wet from the rain since yesterday. He thought about finding a shelter, but how? His body was falling apart, and where would he go? He had nowhere to come back. Not anymore…
Toru used to have a home. The family he lived with was warm and friendly, especially his owner, Anna. Anna was fifteen when Toru became a member of the family. Timidly and aloofly, she found it difficult to interact with other humans. Despite her efforts, Anna confused people by the way she talked, and ended up wounded herself. However, she had no problem with Toru. She cherished Toru as if a long lost friend returned and so did he.
Anna loved making masks. Papers, feathers, wire; she created all kind of masks. Each of them was unique and mysterious. She stored them on the attic; no one but Toru knew about their existences. It was their little secret. Every midnight, Toru lay on the floor watching Anna make a mask. He was fascinated by it. One time he rubbed his head into her arm, and asked her to make one for him. “You don’t need one,” she refused. “Besides, I love your face like this,” Anna picked Toru up and kissed softly on his forehead.
It was approximately about a year later Toru met Chizu. It was Anna’s mother’s idea that he should have a friend. Chizu lived next door in a luxurious house. Their first meeting was awkward. Toru hadn’t associated with anyone but Anna for a long time, even his kind. However, Chizu enchanted him with her deep green eyes and her self-confidence. “Head up and walk straight. Don’t look into humans’ eyes!” Toru tried to do as she said but it was so difficult to walk on the roof. As a result, he fell several times, even got some injuries. “You’re so clumsy, Toru,” licking his wounds, Chizu helped him get up. Toru could hear the jealous hissing far away, but Chizu didn’t seem to bother about it. She came closer and licked his wet moist nose affectionately. Surprising Chizu, Toru ran away without saying anything.
About the same time, Anna’s condition turned worse. It was neither her mother’s nor her father’s fault. It was neither her brother’s nor her sister’s fault. It was neither her friends’ nor her teachers’ faults. She didn’t blame it on anyone. She was just sick of her existence. Once in a while, she tried on her masks. Looking at the mirror, she wished the masks were her real face. Nobody could help her, not even Toru. She was at her limit.
The excitement in Toru was dying out. Toru sat quietly on the balcony watching the sky turning red. “Such a sad view,” he thought. He recently refused Chizu’s invitations. It didn’t have anything to do with her. His mind was just occupied right now.
“Hey,” Chizu showed up on the other side of the balcony. She walked toward Toru but hesitated to come closer.
“You know what,” Chizu cleared her throat, “if you didn’t like what I did on that day, just tell me right now.”
There was no reaction from Toru. Everything was awfully still. Even his white whiskers were motionless.
“Be a man and say it out loud,” Chizu growled. Despite her efforts, all she got was his terrified silence. It was killing her. When she got up and about to leave, Toru gazed at her and said restlessly:
“No, it wasn’t your fault. It didn’t bother me at all.” He stopped and thought for a while then continued. “Actually, it was very sweet of you to do that.”
It didn’t sound convincing but it was not a lie. At least, Toru didn’t attempt to; Chizu could sense that, but… he was hiding something. However, Chizu chose to say nothing. It was the wisest thing to do right now. Besides, it would be waste not watching this beautiful sunset. “Beauty and sadness, such an odd combination,” thought Chizu.
When Chizu came toward Toru, her deep green eyes gazed at him passionately. It was burning on fire. The funny thing was all Toru could think was Anna’s sad blue eyes. When Chizu licked him gently, all he could recall was Anna’s pleasant kisses. Toru confused but it didn’t annoy him. It wasn’t reason for his sadness. “Blue and depression, why it has to be blue?”
“You know,” said Toru, again, he stopped and lost in his thought, “this wasn’t the first time I realized the difference between her and me,”
No need for any further explanation, Chizu knew who “she” was.
“One time, I saw her crying uncontrollably on the attic right after trying on some of her masks. I came closer to her, attempted to wipe her tears.” Toru suddenly stopped. His eyes were fixed at an empty space. Then he continued mildly as if he spoke to no one.
“But my limb was too short to reach her face. However, I could feel her shaking body. She was in pain. Then I made a bold decision.”
If it were a normal day, Chizu would nag Toru about the way he talked. She chose to say nothing though. It was the wisest thing to do right now.
“I jumped on her left arm and desperately clung to her clothes. Even though she was startled, she grabbed my body so I wouldn’t fall. In the panic, instead of wiping her tears, I scratched her face.” Toru exhaled heavily.
“She didn’t scold me. She wasn’t even mad at me. All she did was hold me in her arms and sobbed for next two hours. When she finally stopped, she lowed her head and rubbed my paws on her face. She said thank you to me, even though I didn’t do anything.”
“So she understood what you intended to do…” confused Chizu didn’t how to finish her sentence.
“It left no scars on her face,” he continued as if he didn’t hear what Chizu just said, “but I can still remember her scream. Every morning I groom, and I can still taste the saltiness of her tears in my fur. ”
“Anna, cries a lot recently,” Toru paused and closed his eyes.
“But you cannot do anything,” said Chizu.
“Exactly, I can’t,” open his eyes slowly.
“We are different.”
The sun went down long ago, leaving behind a dark blue sky. There were no stars or moon. There was no wind or sound. It was a terrifying silence. A silence wrapped in the darkness.
Toru accepted Chizu’s invitation to leave for two days away from his home. He was careless about the party, but he really needed to go somewhere to cool his head down. Watching Anna crying became unbearable for him. He had never felt this useless. Just two days and he would figure out how to sooth Anna. Then they would go back to those peaceful midnights like they always had. Just for two days.
Toru hurriedly came back to his house. He wanted to check how Anna doing. He didn’t really find out any solutions yet, and he felt bad leaving Anna alone. When he came back, the house was awfully quiet. He recalled her family was visiting some relatives but Anna had never agreed to go. He went into her bedroom, but it was empty. He went to the attic and found out all the masks were destroyed. Terrified, he ran down stair. The house was shrouded in darkness. The light was on in the kitchen. He walked slowly toward it. All his fur stood up, and his legs were all shaky.
“I am so sorry, Toru. I am. I…” again, Chizu couldn’t finish her sentence.
Chizu wanted to rub her head gently comforted Toru, but she couldn’t. Something about Toru made him scary as if he was not the Toru that she knew. It was not her fault. It had never been but her conscience was torturing her. She would do anything to travel back to the past and fix the problem. But they couldn’t. No one could.
Anna lay on the floor sleeping soundly. As soon as Toru felt a sticky liquid under his paws, he knew she never woke up again. He stood there and gazed at her helplessly. Hoping to hear a breath, a heat beat, a sound but there was nothing. It was a terrifying silence. A silence wrapped in the darkness.
Toru looked at Chizu. The look startled her. Those blue eyes that used to enchant her now seemed soulless.
“I had been telling you, stop being attach to humans. They have only one life. They are going to die anyway, sooner or later. What’s difference it’s gonna make?” Overwhelmed with emotions, Chizu trilled.
” It wasn’t your fault, Chizu. It was never yours.”
It was mine.
Avoiding his eyes, Chizu turned away. Remembering something, she turned back but Toru was gone.
That was their last meeting.
Lying on the dirty street, Toru was thinking about Anna. He pictured her sleeping soundly on the kitchen floor. Like a sleeping beauty, waiting for her prince came to wake her up from the miserable curse. Ironically, Toru wasn’t the prince. He remembered the saltiness when he licked on her check, but she didn’t wake up. She never did.
“Look Mom, a Siamese cat! Look!” said a young girl
“Anna, stay away from it. Stray cats are dangerous.”
“How can it be? Looking at his beautiful blue eyes, he has the same color eye as me,” said Anna
“Anna?” Toru couldn’t believe what he saw.
“No, Anna. It could be dead. Look, how thin it is!”
“But, Mom. Its eyes still moving.”
The woman decided she had enough with her child. She didn’t want to hear any nonsense anymore. Besides, she was a busy woman. She dragged her child away.
“Don’t leave me alone, Anna.”
The young girl yanked her hand away from her mother. “It’s still alive. I heard him. Let keep him, Mom. Please!” The busy woman shook her head, admitted to defeat.
“But you will be the one take care of it.”
“Thanks, Mom. I love you.” The young girl carefully lifted Toru and wrapped him in soft cloth. “I will call you Toru. How about that?”
The cat slowly closed his eyes. So many years had passed and yet for the first time, he was in peace.