4A—Ari Nix and How It All Began
4C—Mrs. Jameson and Her African Violets
Now this had happened once before when he’d been a child. He remembered the day, or at least those few moments, quite vividly. But at that time his sister had been in the room and she’d almost instantly jumped on him, sending him swooping back into his body. He hadn’t had enough time to truly panic then.
Not so now.
The dark kitchen he sailed through was one he’d seen before, though not for quite a long time. Mrs. Jameson kept her pots and pans in an organized line hanging from the wall and a triplicate of feeding bowls ran parallel upon the floor underneath. And at the furthest feeding bowl was a black and white cat, a skinny thing that jerked as Ari floated above its head.
“Hello, hello,” he said with a wave that sent the cat crouching, her eyes glowing in the frail light sneaking in from behind the blinds in the next room. “Don’t mind me. Is your cat lady up? That wonderful woman who feeds you?”
The cat, predictably, did not answer.
Ari, on the other hand, kept on sailing in the same direction, the music from his own apartment trailing him into this one loud enough he was surprised Mrs. Jameson hadn’t come knocking at his door already. Ear plugs. It was the only explanation he had for the lack of care on her part. Which was an awful revelation for him. It was with the bare minimum of satisfaction that he noticed his forward motion seemed to be slowing. Good, that was good, though maybe just marginally good if Mrs. Jameson was impossible to wake.
“Mrs. Jameson?” he called quietly as he entered the living room. The lights had all been shut off, the television a smaller, older one that probably only saw day-time dramas and reality shows. Three cats sat perched on the thin window ledge, their lithe bodies settled between the flower pots filled with African Violets. One lifted its head from chewing on the leaves. All three stared at him, their eyes unblinking, judgment in each gaze.
“Well, at least you can see me,” he said as he continued heading toward them.
One cat—a lean greyish one—crouched and launched herself at him in a fluid, graceful motion. Her claws swept right through his face harmlessly. Ari jerked on instinct, an action that completely stalled his forward motion, but sent him into a backwards somersault in the middle of Mrs. Jameson’s living room. He caught a glimpse of the scared cat running off down the hall.
“Thank you,” he said sarcastically. “Thank you very much, you worthless furrball.” Softer, he called, “Mrs. Jameson, are you awake?”
He twisted in midair, searching for a digital clock that might glow within the darkness, but he merely succeeded in sending himself rolling sideways through the air toward the front door. Carpet, then hall, then ceiling flashed in his vision, all of it shades of darkness and blur. And none of it welcome.
“Mrs. Jameson!” This time he called louder, flailing his limbs in a vain attempt to stop the tumbling, uncontrollable roll he’d become lost within. “Mrs. Jameson, I could really use some help!”
If she’d heard him, which he doubted, she never came running. The hall stubbornly remained mere empty shadows as he tumbled right through the front of her apartment and out across the grey-green carpet where the bright fluorescent lights blinded him every few seconds of his spin.
~ ~ ~
Tune in on Thursday, June 8th, for the next installment of Ari’s Tour: 4B—Jasmine Leit and her Collection of High Heels.
This is a teaser for my novel Bridle the Unicorn.