Every night as I’m preparing for bed, I hear her. Her tormented cries pierce through the night. They flood every corner of my mind. On some nights the cries escalate to shrieks, and even with all the windows closed, I can hear her as if she were right next to me.
I wondered if she were the embodiment of my soul, a divulge of everything I hold inside. Well, better her wails than mine.
One night, when I couldn’t take her cries any longer, I poured some cat food onto a plate, grabbed a coat, and headed out to find her.
Here kitty. Here kitty, kitty, kitty. I coaxed, one desperate soul to another.
I saw her eyes first. Two spheres reflecting the moon. She stared at me with neither fear nor defiance. I watched her, mystified, my breath snatched by the look of recognition in her eyes.
She approached me slowly and deliberately. I scanned her body for injuries, for an explanation to her wails. Failing to find any wounds, I placed the cat food in front of her. She turned her back to the plate, completely uninterested in my offering.
Water, I should’ve brought water.
I crouched beside her, gingerly raising my hand to pet her. Her body stiffed with the initial contact but relaxed soon after. She nestled into my legs and purred softly. I petted her until I began to lose feeling in my legs.
I stood to stretch, taking a second to find my balance. My hand reached for my mouth as if to catch the gasp that had just escaped.
We were surrounded. Dozens of strays had emerged from the darkness. A sea of small spheres glinted under the moonlight, regarding me.
An army of desperate, lost souls. And I was their queen.