Little Cat Feet

(Be warned: if you send me a picture text, I’m likely to use it as a writing prompt. After asking permission, of course – I’m not a monster!) This picture was sent to me one early morning by Janet, a fellow writer who most likely knew this type of image would inspire a story.

I’m up too early. Unable to sleep. I step slowly through the house as if seeing it for the first time. It looks different in the morning dark. It looks different with no one else awake.

I grip the doorknob as it turns so it will not jangle and wake the others. It may sound like I am so thoughtful, that I want them to continue sleeping uninterrupted. I just don’t want them to be alerted to my presence. I need to be alone.

The backyard is draped in fog, giving the impression that it goes on for miles. It doesn’t, I know. Everything has a limit.

The fence is distinct, even in the haze. It looks spindly but sturdy, which is a stark contrast to how it looks in broad daylight. How it looks in daylight is janky and broken down, and it makes him rant about how much a new fence is going to cost us and how I should go ask the neighbors to chip in.

I unfocus my eyes as I stare into the fog, past the walkway behind our house, so far beyond that I can imagine anything I want back there. A quieter home, a bigger yard, a different world.

I sit on the grass and feel the cool dew on the back of my legs. I lie down and my shirt gets damp. I press myself into the ground, my legs together and arms stuck to my sides. I pretend I am in the bottom of a canoe, floating away on a vast body of water. I hear waves pounding the boat, but I know it must be the rumble of my house waking up. I need to get my canoe back to shore, climb up and out and into the house before they wake up and find me gone, or peer out of a window and see me out here. Here, where I can still manage to find a sense of peace, an escape, however imaginary it may be. This is mine, they do not need to know about any of it.

I push myself up from the ground and pad back into the house. My feet are still slightly damp, leave vague footprints on the wood floor. I know they will dry up before anyone notices them, faint as they are.

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