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Kitsy: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Cindy Rosmus: Kitsy

103_ym_kitsy_bernie.jpg
Art by Bernice Holtzman 2024

KITSY

 

by

 

Cindy Rosmus

 

 

          Think I was five when Kitsy passed. Young enough where they whispered about it, instead of saying straight out, “Your cat is dead!”

          But she wasn’t, not really. I still saw her. When I threw treats into the corner where she slept, they disappeared. Whether inside her ghostly belly, or into a black hole in space, who knows? Any time I looked in that space between the scratched-up couch and the window, there was Kitsy’s big, fluffy, gray body. Alive. Sleeping, or grooming, or glaring about something she’d overheard.

          “You fucking drunk!” Mom said, as Daddy poured a sloppy shot. “Robbing me of my womanhood!” She laughed harshly. “Blaming it on a helpless baby.”

          Me. Cringing, I crawled into the space between the couch and window.

          “Bitch,” Daddy said.

          As she smacked the shot out of his mouth, I buried my face in Kitsy’s fur, real, or not. “It’s okay,” Kitsy whispered, in her purry, cat voice. I breathed in the smell of dust, cat treats. Trusted her to save me from misplaced punches, hurled furniture.

         Then glass, as the window shattered above us.

 

*

 

          “Is she nuts?” Mom asked Aunt Josie, a few years later. “Kitsy is dead. That cat’s been dead, since . . .”

          “She still sees her.” Aunt Josie said. “And . . . talks to her.”

Out of sight, I almost cried. I’d trusted Aunt Josie with my secret.

          “She’s got one,” Kitsy purred, from her corner.

          Kissing. And touching where they shouldn’t have. Aunt Josie and Daddy. Somehow, even before Kitsy told me, I knew.

          At parties, Aunt Josie sipped from Daddy’s drink. Sharing secret looks, half-smiles they thought no one saw. She only wore that push-up bra when Daddy was there. In the summer, she had tan lines from her boring bathing suit. The one Uncle Tommy made her wear. Curly dark-haired Uncle Tommy, who’d almost been a priest.

          For that, Kitsy got extra treats.

          “No child of mine,” Mom told Aunt Josie, “will see a shrink.”

          Stretching, Kitsy yawned. Inside her snake-with-fur’s mouth, I saw a lot more secrets.

          “Then maybe,” Aunt Josie said, “Tom.”

         

*

 

          Daddy had sandy hair; eyes gray as Kitsy’s fur. A dimpled chin, which I didn’t have, either. All I had of Daddy’s was his last name: Rusch.

Growing up, I looked like Mom, and . . . someone else.

          “Someone,” Kitsy told me, “Who likes secrets.”

Like in confession.

This crazy, curly dark-haired teen had plenty. . . .

Years of talking to imaginary cats. Hiding treats in couch cushions. Wearing splintered glass like a shroud.

And lately, sneaking antifreeze into sweet drinks.

Kitsy knew just how much to add.

 

 

THE END

Cindy originally hails from the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ, once voted the “unfriendliest city on the planet.” She talks like Anybodys from West Side Story and everybody from Saturday Night Fever. Her noir/horror/bizarro stories have been published in the coolest places, such as Shotgun HoneyMegazineDark DossierThe Rye Whiskey Review, Under the Bleachers, and Rock and a Hard Place. She is the editor/art director of Yellow Mama. She’s published seven collections of short stories. Cindy is a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights advocate.

Bernice Holtzman’s paintings and collages have appeared in shows at various venues in Manhattan, including the Back Fence in Greenwich Village, the Producer’s Club, the Black Door Gallery on W. 26th St., and one other place she can’t remember, but it was in a basement, and she was well received. She is the Assistant Art Director for Yellow Mama.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2024