Sylvia looked at the cat, and caught her breath.
“His eyes…” One bright blue, one amber, Link squinted at her from his resting place. Sylvia noticed how tense he appeared to be, even in his relaxed position.
The old woman’s mouth twitched upwards. “Handsome, isn’t he?”
Sylvia nodded. “Yeah, he’s cute.” She looked at the woman and realized something. “Wait-what did you say your name was?”
“Imogene.” She brushed cat hair off the lavender pantsuit. “Imogene Hanks-Smith. Would you like some tea, then?” With a speed and agility not often seen in octogenarians, she hurdled another cat, this one grey, and sped into the kitchen.
Sylvia followed her, calling “Sure.” She entered the kitchen and leaned against the red-and-yellow tiled counters. Feeling around for some subject of conversation, she landed on the pictures. “You’ve got a lot of pictures in there.” Imogene dropped a tea bag into the kettle and nodded imperceptibly. “You a photographer or something?”
“I have many people to keep track of.”
Sylvia thought this an odd response. “What do you mean?”
“Young lady, when you’ve had as many husbands as I have, you would know what I mean.” The kettle began to shriek.
“How many?” Sylvia asked, shouting over the din.
Slowly, the old woman took the kettle off the stovetop as Harvey voiced his complaints at being forced to move from the top of the fridge. “Would you-” she gestured at the mugs sitting next to Sylvia. Picking them up, she shook several pieces of cat food out and handed them to Imogene.
“How many?” she asked again.
Sylvia forced herself to not gape. “Nine?”
“That’s what I said.” Imogene handed the mug back, now filled to the brim with tea. Too late, Sylvia remembered she didn’t like tea. She raised the mug to her lips and pretended to drink.
Another cat wandered into the room, grey and placid. It made straight for the open silverware drawer, curling up among the spoons. Imogene swatted at it. “Tony! Get out of there!” Meowing loudly, the cat followed orders. “Anyway,” she continued, “You should be all set for the week. I’m going to Florida to see my sister.”
“That’s fun.” Sylvia took another phony sip.
“She has liver failure.”
Sylvia raised her eyebrows, lowering her face into her tea. When all attempts at response came up short, she straightened, put her mug down and said, “Well, if that’s all, then I’ll get going.”
The old woman said nothing as she left.
Forks clinked against plates. Sylvia took a big bite of spaghetti and nodded.
Her father tapped his chin with the handle of his knife. His badge caught the light, Deputy glinting into Sylvia’s eye. “Now, that’s a funny lady.”
“Whaddayou ‘ean?” She caught a glare from her mother and chewed furiously before repeating, “What do you mean?”
“Well,” her father said, “We never figured out where they went.”
“Yeah, Dad,” put in her little brother, “Who?”
He took a bite, chewed.
“David!” Her mother raised her eyebrows. “Who is it?”
“Her husbands.” He finished chewing. “Never found any of ‘em.”
This is part 2 of a continuous story. Thanks for reading it! Leave a note or a review to tell me what you thought.