Amy Pence lives in 100 acres of hard wood forest (in a house actually) in
Carrollton, Georgia. Pets include a cat, two dogs and a rabbit who...read more is well-
trained and inspiring (though not to be mistaken for the one in this story). (A
man and an almost grown child also live here). She grew up in the French Quarter
and Las Vegas, so is attracted to isolated untouristed locales.
THE SOUND OF THE BOBCAT was like a very old woman screaming. It came from the woods near their cabin and Renee awoke thinking of her mother.
She was still half-steeped in a dream: her wings had been clipped along their perforations. Renee was surprised to learn that the wings were not connected to the back, as in movies, but rather filled in under the arms.
I’m taking these off because I no longer need them, she’d been thinking, when the sound of the howling woman had wakened her. Her husband had stiffened beside her.
“Did you hear that? My God, it’s close,” he whispered.
Her mother had been dead for over four years, so it surprised Renee to learn she’d been hiding in the North Georgia mountains all along.
“It’s my mother,” Renee said.
“It’s a bobcat,” Ted said. “But don’t make me do anything about it, okay?” He turned over and his freckled back resembled bad wallpaper. He was probably tired of what he called her superstitions.
In the morning, they found a rabbit mangled just yards from the cabin.
“Looks like the bobcat killed my sister,” Renee said, noticing how the rabbit’s soft head, tucked in, had not been savaged. The innocence of it— closed eyes, no pebbles disturbed near the skull.
“What sister?” Ted stroked back the forelock that hung over his brow. It was one of the sexy things about him, but now it seemed a pompous detail.
“You forgot. I told you about her. She died of SIDS before I was born.”
Ted sighed, then roughly kicked the carcass into the undergrowth, and Renee let out a pained yelp.
Their 7th anniversary vacation was not going as planned. Even in the hot tub, their grapplings with each other seemed forced.
They were on an afternoon hike, Renee fighting the feeling of eyes spying on them from the pines leering above. She looked steadily at the ground.
“This is gorgeous,” Ted said, when they reached the peak. Renee bumped into him, jostled and dizzy from staring at the trail.
“Jesus, Renee, what’s the matter? Can you relax?” The dip of hair hiding his right eye bobbed with a renewed frenzy. He blew at the hair. When no one was no one else around, he dropped all vanity.
“We were being watched, the entire way…” Renee whispered.
“Are you going mad?”
...read more (2/3)“Is it madness to think that the birds contain the souls of dead people? That every living thing has been recycled in some way? We’re all just containers—and when we die, who’s to say what happens?”
“Exactly. Who’s to say?” Ted slumped down on a boulder, letting the daypack fall on the pine-clotted trail between them. He put a hand in his mouth and used his teeth to drag off a shard of fingernail.
“You told me, when we got married, to tell you not to bite your nails. Don’t bite your nails.” Renee sat down cross-legged on the trail. It really was gorgeous. Below them, the steep mountain undulated to a small stream twinkling lazily near the highway. If she’d had those wings from her dream, she would catch a draft and float away, would land softly near the stream. Let the water ruffle through her feathers. Ted was still eyeing her.
“You’ve been like this for awhile, since…” He stood up, turning slowly away from her, looked down the mountainside. He shoved his hands in his cargo shorts.
“Since you said that thing about Edie.” Edie was their cat, a ginger-colored stray they’d found under their car at Wal-Mart a couple of years ago. Edie was a man’s cat and detested Renee from the get-go. She’d always liked cats, but this one didn’t like her. Edie insisted on sleeping on her pillow: to get closer to Ted and to aggravate Renee.
“It was startling,” Renee said. “And I’m not sure who she was. In her other life, that is.” The sound of the birds relieved her; it was silly to think of them as enemies—all these souls occupying their temporary housing.
“For God’s sake, Renee. You won’t stop accusing me of an affair. It just didn’t happen.” He was still half turned from her. His long bangs formed a curlicue in silhouette.
A hawk circled above, and Renee watched it gliding.
“I caught it out of the corner of my eye; it was peripheral, really, but it was like a woman stretching her long legs up into the air, you know, playfully. And when I looked, it was just Edie again. The cat. Edie… you named her.”
His hand went to his mouth for another episode of nail-biting. With his other hand, he rubbed his eyes.
It had been three years since that depression, that one he couldn’t seem to work himself out of. The depression he couldn’t explain.
...read more (3/3)“I never thought about it before,” she said, after the long silence. “That you named the cat. That cat is so attached to you. I never understood why.”
“Edie, the cat, I mean, helped me through it. You know, that rough patch.”
“I remember,” Renee said. The hawk looped lazily. It all made sense. “Edie. That was her name.”
“She’s dead now, if that makes you happy.”
He picked up the day pack abruptly, losing grip, then grabbing it up again. He trudged down the trail away from her.
“Why would that make me happy?” she said to the hawk, but he was probably out of ear-shot.