The Trouble with Cats and Schizophrenia

A Short Work of Fiction

Waiting, I took Sacha into my lap, my smoky grey cat with green eyes. In a matter of minutes, Brian, my boyfriend would be coming over to meet Sacha and take me out to dinner.

Sacha stretched out in my lap. “When’s your boyfriend getting here, Ella? I need my nap.” I could hear Sacha speak when I was on my shizo meds. I didn’t know what I would do without Sacha to keep me company. Her approval meant everything.

The doorbell rang. I straightened out the hem of my skirt and went to answer the door. Pulling Brian into my apartment, I waited to hear from Sacha. She circled around us at lazy pace as I gave Brian a welcome kiss.

“Not bad, Ella.”

I took Brian into the kitchen, where I kept Sacha’s things, for some wine.

Brian and I returned from our date to a dark apartment. I saw Sacha’s eyes in the dark as I turned on the light. Would she leave us alone until her bedtime? Sacha slinked off to my bedroom, and I sighed.

“Give me a minute, Brian. Wine while you wait?” I held up the bottle with a smile.

I found Sacha on the bed, laying there like she owned the place.

“Get out of here, Sacha.”

She hissed and pawed my arm with the claws in. “I don’t like his smell.”

I stood there with my arms across my chest. “What’s wrong with him?”

“He smells like other woman.”

I laughed. “You want to sniff him?”

“Yeah, that would be nice, Ella.”

I scooped Sacha into my arms and put her on the sofa between Brian and I. “This is my friend, Sacha.”

Brian reached out to Sacha.

She lifted up her nose to sniff his wrist. Then Sacha climbed into his lap.

Brian played with her, holding his hands before her paws as targets.

“Brian’s fun. Why won’t he talk to me though?” Sacha meowed with annoyance. “Make him talk to me!” Sacha shrieked in my ear and reached up to scratch Brian’s face.

He was too fast for her.

I pulled Sacha from his lap, bundling her to my chest. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over her.” I dropped Sacha to the floor. “Go to your room.” I pointed to the kitchen with my finger.

I sat on the couch and kissed Brian, feeling the pressure of his hand on my waist. Taking his hand, I led him to my bedroom.

I woke up in an empty bed to Sacha yowling my name. Pulling on a robe, I went to her. She was lying on the linoleum, breathing fast and drooling. I crouched at her side. “What’s wrong, Sacha?”

“I’m burning up. I threw up all over the kitchen and can’t breathe well at all. I need a vet, Ella.”

I put Sacha into the cat carrier and left my apartment. I drove fast through the empty streets at 3am.

Parking in the empty parking lot in the pale yellow light of the streetlamps, I held Sacha in my lap, petting her. Sacha stopped breathing. I opened her little cat’s mouth and breathed into it. Squeezing her chest with two fingers, I pulled her back to life.

The vet took her from my arms in the exam room, and ushered me out. In the lobby, I cried over Sacha. The vet took me back to see her hours later.

I found her in a plastic enclosure with a cone around her head and gauze wrapped around her paw. Turning to the vet, I was crying again.

“Sacha has a throat infection that spread into her lungs. We’ve given her a starting IV dose of doxycycline and are waiting for the tests to come back. She’s on oxygen for now. If everything goes well, she should be ready to go home sometime this afternoon.”

“Thank you, Doctor. Can Sacha hear me?”

“Yes. Can you find your way back to the lobby?”

I nodded, fighting back tears. Putting my hand out to the glass, I talked to her.

She meowed back.

“Talk to me, please. Sacha!” I got strange looks, so I stopped.

I went into the lobby and was about to sit down. A kitten walked over to me to play with the felt on my sneakers. I knelt down. Picking up the cute kitten, I held her in my hands. “Hi, cutie.”

I strained to hear her speak. She purred, nestled into my palm and fell asleep. My shoulders fell. A girl with her mom came to retrieve their kitten.

I went to a pet store full of kittens in pens — not a peep out of any of them.

I went home, and I sat there, not taking my meds.

Days passed with me sneaking antibiotic pills into Sacha’s food and trying to make her talk.

Three days later, it happened. “Ella?”

Alone in my apartment with Sacha, I looked into my cat’s face.

Her lips moved to the words. “Ella, can you hear me?”

“I thought I’d never hear you speak again.”

“I’ve been talking for days. You couldn’t hear me, that’s all.”

Now that I was off my meds, would my shizo voice come back as well?

I walked to work, hearing a nasty whisper behind my back. It was Evil Ella — the voice that told me to lie, cheat, and steal. “Brian isn’t worth your time, Ella. Steve from work is gorgeous though. I wouldn’t mind sleeping with him.”

I said, “No.”

Evil Ella was like an idea. She would spread through my mind, affecting me in ways I couldn’t see until it was too late. I popped my pills that evening.

I asked Sacha what she wanted to eat. She just meowed.

I stood in my doctor’s office wearing the heels and the skinny jeans I’d had from my senior year of college with a dozen rips in it. “Dr. Tomlinson, could we try cutting back on my meds?”

He looked at the computer screen, scratching at his beard. “You’ve been going to therapy?”

I looked into his eyes, wondering what he would say. “For three years.”

He asked me a few more questions and gave me a new prescription.

I heard Evil Ella still. I had a wonderful conversation with Sacha though.

I made a deal with Evil Ella. I’d do things she wanted within reason, like buy those spike heels she wanted me to steal. Or tell the truth with my fingers crossed when she wanted me to lie.

Sacha swept through the apartment, knocking things over like my Grandmother’s favorite vase, shattering it.

I knelt on the floor, crying over it. “Sacha, what’s your damage?”

“Don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?”

I grabbed the spray bottle and chased her around the apartment, spraying until she was curled up in the corner, whimpering for me to stop it with the chilly water. I stopped after she was a little wet.

The little demon scratched me.

I walked away, holding my arm to get a bandage. With her screaming at me, I locked her in the cat carrier wearing the oven-mitts that reminded me of Mom’s cooking. I dropped her off at a neighbors.

I went to the clean smelling, empty Emergency Room to wait for hours with the Evil Sacha there to make me cry. With stitches and a prescription for antibiotics, I returned home to unlock Sacha from the pet carrier.

“Sacha, what’s going on?”

“You go out and bring Brian home to play. It’s so unfair.”

“You want a boyfriend?”

Sacha nodded.

I made her play dates with any cat I knew. Watching her play, I chatted with the owners and their cats when I could. Sasha found a boy cat she liked. I talked to the owner. Philippe — his cat — wasn’t going anywhere by the sound of it.

At Evil Ella and Sacha’s unending arguments, I parked outside Philippe’s apartment when Sacha was in the mood. She climbed the fire escape and snuck into Philippe’s apartment to bring him down to my car.

Philippe was a show cat. Sacha had begged me not to have her equipment removed. Her tubes were tied though. I dyed Philippe’s fur black with a fight.

I had Brian.

Sasha had Philippe.


Published by

Girish Karthikeyan

Writer, Reader, Radical Thinker

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