Steam, coming out of his cup, is so white.
I never really noticed, though he always drinks his tea in the evening, as I sit beside him. The TV is on, but I can see in his eyes that his mind is elsewhere. I want him to talk to me, just like he does every evening. I always wished I had been able to reply, but I can't. I'm mute.
The light in the room is soft and yellow. I love how cozy our apartment is – all the carpets and the armchairs. I chose some of them. We don't use them much, frankly, but they create such a warm, hospitable atmosphere.
Every morning he leaves when I'm still asleep. He works at the grocery store, as a supervisor. He returns when it's already dark, at about seven o'clock. I wish I could tell him he works too much.
"Well," he suddenly starts, and I turn my face to him.
"Well, today started all right. Everyone was on time, everyone in a good mood, happy, etcetera. We had a shortage of milk though, because the truck was late, so I had to personally apologize to some of the customers who did not get what they wanted. So that was a bad thing. It's a tricky business – apology, I'm telling you, Molly…"
My name is Molly.
"It's tricky. It has to be sincere, but not overly sincere, or they start to feel that you don't really give a damn about them. Well," he looks at me apologetically, "It's not like I don't give a damn. This old lady, she looked so desperate that she couldn't buy milk… said she had difficulty driving. But it's not like I could help her, Molly."
I move my head in something like a nod.
"Yeah, anyway. Nothing else remarkable happened until lunch. At lunch… at lunch I had a tuna sandwich. You know, I like tuna."
I know how he likes tuna sandwiches. It's his favourite snack food.
"And then I, uh…" He stops for a moment and gives me an odd look. I've never seen him like that. I don't know what it means and it makes me nervous.
"And then I felt really, really tired." He turns his head away, and continues. "I don't know what's happening, Molly. I feel more and more tired from day to day. It seems like the time is pressing on me. It seems like it is wearing me down. Every second – it kills me. Do you know that we're closer and closer to our death with every second?" He looks at me questioningly.
I know. But I don't say anything.
"I feel… so old. So old, Molly, god! Just yesterday I was twenty-five!"
I look at the floor. At this moment, carpet patterns don't amuse me. I know that he is not just talking about himself. I am old, too. I get worse and worse every day, although I don't realize it. Now I think how much harder it is for me to move. Time is wearing us both down, I want to say. But I am silent.
"I am so afraid of getting old, Molly. I don't want to get old."
I see tears in his eyes. It makes me sad, and it unnerves me. I don't want him to cry. Please, don't cry. He looks at me and understands.
"I'm sorry, Molly," he says, and puts a hand on my shoulder. Then he wipes moisture off his eyes, and goes on, "It's just that it's so scary to be old. It's so scary to know that you will die soon. And I… I was still looking for a friend. You know, someone…"
I don't listen to him anymore. I'm scared and hurt. A friend? And who am I? Who am I that devoted such a part of my life to him? Almost the whole of my life, I've spent with him!
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to insult you. You're my best friend!" and he strokes my back gently. I understand him. Me, and me, and me every day. Every day for how many years now? I don't want to even remember. We never have guests. Never had. For as long as I remember myself living in this apartment, no one has entered it except for me and him. He never goes out, either. He just goes to work. It is not only a means of acquiring money, it is something to do. That's why he works such long hours.
"Anyway, after lunch… uhh… after lunch I found out that we had to fire Eric. It turned out he was stealing. I'm not sure, I wasn't really involved, the manager did everything that was needed. You know… file and fire. That's what it's called I think. Or at least that's how he calls it. To tell you the truth, this Conners, the manager, is such an asshole. Never liked him."
I know; he has told me that before. He often complains about that guy, whatever the manager's misgivings are.
He drinks the rest of his tea, and puts the cup down on little table. He lies back on the couch, and flicks through the channels. Suddenly, he turns to me again.
"Molly," he says with a smile. "You smell."
I look at him with disgust. When he says that phrase, it means that tonight he's going to wash me. I hate water.
I wriggle my tail and meow. I don't know why he uses all those soaps when I can just lick myself clean.