Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Killed Someone

I hit my neighbor's cat, driving home from work. She darted out in front of my car from behind a trash can I think, and she must have bounced off my fender, because I didn't hear a thing. I hoped I missed her. I slowed down and looked behind me, and she was trying to stand up, biting at herself. I pulled over, and ran back to pick her up. She was growling and hissing, and breathing raggedly. Blood coming out of her mouth, blood on one of her paws, just a little.

A woman, another neighbor, was right behind me on the road. She told me, "It happened so fast, there was nothing you could have done." And, "can I give you a lift to the vet's down the street?" I was a wreck, crying in front of total strangers, this cat screaming in my arms, trying to get away, probably making her own internal injuries worse. Another neighbor says she thinks she knows who the cat belongs to. She'll tell them where we're going.

We go to the vet, and as I'm getting out of the car, the cat bites into my thumb, hard, down past my thumbnail, it hurts like hell, and I'm not letting go. This last act of rebellion against death takes it out of her. The cat has calmed down a little, but still struggling to get away from me, from the pain. The neighbor helps me get the cat into the office, opening doors, asking if she needs to stay with me. I tell her no, I'll call my wife, she'll come pick me up. The vet's assistant takes me into a room right off the lobby. I lay the cat down on the table, and her breathing slows way down, almost stops. The vet comes in and takes her away. I can't stop crying. I've killed someone's friend. I call my wife to ask her to come get me.

Someone knocks, and it's the owner. He's a nice man, fiftyish, with a sad expression already formed. I tell him what happened. He's in shock. I don't know how long they've had this cat, but there's definitely a history. I lie to him about whether the cat suffered, because I think she did, quite a lot. I mention that he seems to be taking it better than I am, but he says, "I'm still in shock." The vet comes back in and tells us she's gone. The owner asks to take her home, so they can bury her in the back yard. At this point my wife comes in, and she starts crying, too. The vet brings the cat in, wrapped in a towel. My wife asks to see her. The owner starts to break down a little. He leaves with the little bundle.

I've killed someone's friend, and I don't know how to come back.

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