This was written for an English class of mine quite a while ago. There is a book of pictures with one caption and one sentence for each picture entitled The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Apparently Harris Burdick drew these pictures and wrote a story to go with each one, but when his friend took an interest in the photos and asked to see the stories, Burdick disappeared. It's been 12 years since the book with Burdick's pictures has been published and there are still no clues as to what happened to him. So the purpose of the book is to come up with your own story of what's going on in each picture. My class was assigned the picture titled "Under the Rug" with the sentence "Two weeks passed and it happened again" already provided. I was to write a short story about it, and here's what I came up:


Under the Rug

Two weeks passed and it happened again. I was just minding my own business, staring at my daughter, forever still, behind the glass. She was with the Lord now, and I was trying to reminisce in peace, but that thing interrupted me. I never expected to see that obnoxious creature again after I chased him out last time. But sure enough, as I gasped in shock, I knew it was that cat under my rug again.

He had somehow made his way into my house again. I had a tendency to be forgetful, so leaving my window open at night wasn't unusual, but this cat was odd. The first time he came to me was last summer, the first summer without my daughter. I was bitter and too depressed to leave my house at all, and when that cat came around my grief turned to stressful anger. It wasn't that I didn't like cats, but the way he watched me from the window with those silent, all-knowing eyes grated against my nerves. It was as if he knew of my sorrow and just wanted to observe me with curiosity. Obviously, I chased him away and kept my window shut for the next few days, but it was summer.

That cat visited me at unexpected times from then on. When it rained he would come to sit at the window, but he'd never try to jump inside. When it was sunny, he wouldn't appear often, but every once in while I'd see him walk past my house in a content way, almost in a pleased, satisfied saunter. I didn't understand it. But he'd visit me at night the most. Sometimes I felt that cat had some sort of weird connection with me, despite my dislike for his constant and annoying imposement. He always came when I sat down to look at the pictures of my daughter on the wall. He always had to disturb me when I only wanted to be alone!

As winter approached, the cat came less and less often. I figured he was too cold to be out and about so much, and had found a place to stay. I thought I could finally have some time to myself, to remember the past which I missed so terribly. But then, two weeks ago, he snuck into my parlor. I was beyond shocked when I saw a moving lump beneath my large carpet. At first I was too startled to do anything, but when I lifted the rug and saw that cat, I stood still and stared at him as he stared back. He didn't even run away. I always thought that I would be angry if he had come into my house, but strangely enough, I didn't really mind. I found his presence to be quite natural, probably due to his continuous visits. I even went so far as to reach my hand out to him, but my sudden movement frightened him.

He jumped up onto the small round table beside my sitting chair. I reached out to him again, but this time slowly. I almost touched his striped fur, but he jumped again before I could feel him. This time he leapt up and away, and as I watched him land softly on the ground, the sound of shattering glass followed him. I couldn't recognize the sound immediately, but when I looked down to see my beautiful daughter's face covered with tiny bits of broken glass, I became angry. That stupid cat! I turned my fierce expression toward him and started to shout. I yelled a few profound words, making sure to stomp loudly as I ran after him. He sprinted out, and pounced up and out through the open window I forgot to close.

He hadn't come again until now. I was recalling the time my daughter won her first medal, and how proud I was of her. The picture frame I replaced was nothing in my eyes compared to her smiling face under the tree. I had to look down to keep from remembering the night she died. My eyes were closed painfully, for I was desperate to think of something else. Fortunately, or possibly unfortunately, I was distracted when I heard a quiet scuffling sound. My eyes snapped open to see a lump under the rug.

In a flash of anger, I stood and lifted my small chair above my head. I was ready to strike, to end everything; my aggravation, my unhappiness, my never-ending headache formed by grief. But when I heard a small mew from underneath the rug, I stopped. The little cat was crying. He was speaking to me, which he'd never done before. I was struck with a sudden revelation. I lowered the chair and sat down again, all in slow motion. My little kitty cried again, probably feeling trapped beneath the carpet. I lifted the rug with a careful hand, freeing him. He was about to run away again, but when he looked at my face and our eyes met, he froze and cocked his head a bit.

My cat understood that I wasn't going to harm him. He knew I had finally realized his purpose. He could see that my eyes had been opened at last.

I patted my lap in a summoning gesture. Without hesitation, my little friend jumped up onto my lap and lay down. He and I acted as though he had been my companion for years. I started to lightly caress his back and scratched behind his ears, all while he purred affectionately. I looked to the picture of my daughter on the wall.

She would've liked this cat.