From the Collection of Short Stories titled, Love Is All Around (Copyright)
– 0 –
A dark afternoon kept people away from the streets. With yesterday’s forecast of heavy rainfall in the evening, not many dared to risk getting caught in the expected flooding: wading through dirty and polluted water would be a nightmare.
This notion circled in her mind while contemplating whether to escape or not her self-incarceration inside their old and creaky house. Her dissatisfaction living there was pronounced whenever the family discussed relocation to another site, her idea in its entirety.
Their house was not the original structure in that area. The turn-of-the-century ancestral home of the Razons stood there first but it was razed to the ground due to bombing raids during the second world war. Neglected for decades, the rubble was cleaned up under the sole supervision of one of the surviving heirs of the clan.
Her father decided to build a two-story edifice made of hard wood, which was the trend in the 1960s. Inheriting less money compared to other siblings, the property was his for the taking. It was not worth that much back then but at present valuation, the lot alone could fetch more than five million pesos.
That was the crux of their quarrel most of the time: her parents and sister dissented at her idea of selling the place to buy a condominium unit in one of the exclusive sites in the business district. Theirs was sentimentality while hers was practicality.
But in some way, they had a point to gang up on her: it’s her high society mentality which proved too much for them to bear. Humility was a trait practiced religiously by the family.
Why should I live in this dump? That was her constant query.
To get even, especially against her younger sister’s stonewalling, she directed her ire at the family pet. In truth, she had never been keen on sharing the house with animals, pet or not. If they welcomed the feline’s company, she did not.
“Do you have to bring that in the room?” Grace scowled when she saw Anna hugged the cat affectionately.
“Mind your own business,” her sister shot back angrily.
“You know I’m allergic to cats,” she averred.
“No, you’re not,” Ana corrected. “You hated cats.”
“It’s the same thing.”
Ana glared at her without adding another word. She was used to Grace’s crooked reasoning.
On the other hand, Grace celebrated her small victory with an impish grin.
– o –
Grace would not be defeated. She wanted the cat out, by hook or by crook.
As an act of revenge, she resorted to the most wicked plan to get rid of the cat, permanently.
“Let’s see if you’ll survive this,” she mumbled quietly, pouring the mixture of rat poison and sugar to a prepared rice dish. Assorted fish bones were added to complete the come-on meal.
Her sister was out, on an errand. She had all the time in the world to seduce the cat.
At first, the cat demurred her false kindness. It walked around the plate but only to smell the food. Either the portion looked suspiciously more than normal or the person who offered it was untrustworthy.
Grace was furious. It would seem the cat had no wish to subtract a life from its nine.
– o –
She never gave up.
Whenever possible, she repeated the attempt using every type of food she hoped the cat would consume. Even observing Ana closely while feeding the pet, her resolve was unstoppable.
One day, she succeeded. For some reason, her sister failed to clean up the cat’s plate. She simply added her concoction and mixed it well together with the leftover.
The poor animal did not eat for a whole week. Its body body was emaciated because of the lack of food intake. It tried to expel the traces of the poison in its system.
Even though Ana suspected Grace for the pet’s pitiful condition, she had no evidence. But the mere fact her older sister’s emotionless silence at the turn of events was highly suspicious, she simply stopped talking to her.
Ana could only watch her pet’s natural instinct for survival with several trips to the garden, eating certain leaves and grasses. She prayed that that would do the trick.
– o –
(to be concluded)