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Day one

Sundays are the best because most folks are at church. I pick out a nice one: Three-stories, brick, no barking dog. I ring the doorbell a few times. Nothing. I’m in a hurry because it’s cold. I ring again. Still nothing. I’ve picked the right place.

Luckily, the backdoor is unlocked. Thank God for these kinds of communities. It’s warm inside, like an oven. My head is full of snot so I have to breathe through my mouth. I kick off my sneakers then wipe my runny nose. It’s quiet and I proceed cautiously.

**
A cat appears. It purrs and rubs against my legs, as if to welcome me. Hello, I say.

I wander around for a few minutes to survey the interior. There’s a fireplace, shelves with hundreds of books, a big screen television, and fancy chandeliers. In one of the bathrooms, there’s even a Jacuzzi hot tub. For later, I tell myself.

I grab a laundry basket in the washroom then I move into the kitchen. I fill the basket with a few sleeves of crackers and a box of cereal. There are some bananas on the counter and I take the whole bushel. I find a linen closet in the hallway and fish out a few blankets and pillows. The cat is following me, watching my every motion. I stroke it a few times before I look for the attic.

Day two

It’s cold up here, but it’s better than being outside. I shiver and nestle deeper into my nest. As the sun comes up, light begins to seep inside and I take in my surroundings.

There’s a coil of pink insulation resting on an old Sony VCR box. I get curious so I move the insulation and open the box. Inside is a cluster of dusty Christmas ornaments. There are stars, orbs, and even a few candy canes. I pick one out. It’s a female angel with red yarn for hair. I twiddle the yarn around my finger and giggle. I tell her she’s beautiful. Then I put it back and close the box. I wipe my hands clean before I eat some crackers and try to fall back asleep.

**
I look up at the rafters and slowly close my eyes. My body begins to drift away, slow at first, but increases speed, whirling through the atmosphere of my mind. I open my eye and see the house shrinking below me as I fly away. Gradually, the house disappears. This movement is beyond my control.

The next thing I know, I am back in the attic. The rafters creak as I lay below them.

Day three

I’ve been listening patiently for several hours. There was some activity below me this morning, but now all is quiet. Slowly, I work up the courage to rise. I fold my blankets and stack them neatly in the corner. Then I open the attic staircase and snoop. Nothing. So I climb down and look around. It feels toasty down in the house. I find a vent groaning out warm air and stand below it to heat myself. I wait hesitantly.

After a while, I wander through the rooms upstairs. In one room, the walls are pink. Against the opposite wall, there’s a desk with a mirror. I sit down in front of it and look at myself bashfully. There’s a drawer. I open it and discover various containers and bottles of makeup. Among them is a tube of lipstick. I take off the cap and rub the stick over my lips. The color looks rosy and delicious against my whiskers. I put the lipstick in my pocket and close the drawer.

The next room is dark and cold. I move over to the window and draw the blinds so the light fills the room with fresh natural light. There’s an unmade bed and dirty laundry is strewn across the floor. I crawl into the bed and lay there for a few moments examining the walls. There are posters of basketball players and rock’n’roll singers with muscles bulging and arms glistening. I roll over and smell the sheets. My eyes grow heavy and I take a short nap.

**
Time passes. I wake-up in the same position when I hear the garage door opening. I climb out of the bed and crawl back up to the attic.

Day four

I sleep in late and when I awake I hear a vacuum cleaner running downstairs. I listen quietly as it glides across the carpet. My stomach growls. I stand up and slowly peal a banana, my last. I’ll swing by the kitchen later, I tell myself.

**
It’s been silent for a few hours so I decide to go downstairs. When I get there, the air is full of lemon-pine cleanser. It smells enough like food and makes me hungry. In the refrigerator, there’s a carton of milk. I check the expiration date. Good. I turn it up and begin to guzzle.

I walk across the house to the master bedroom. There’s a man’s closet and a woman’s closet. I spend a few minutes admiring the bright, floral dresses and sweaters among the woman’s clothes. Then I turn and shuffle through a row of hangers in the man’s closet. I find a shirt my size (or close enough). It’s a nice button down that makes me feel professional. This makes me smile.

The cat appears in the doorway. We talk a while, then I go back upstairs.

Day five

I wake-up early. The attic is full of soft enigmatic light. It’s raining outside and I can hear the soft patter of the water on the roof above me. I begin to grow restless and I get dressed. I button up my new shirt and climb down from the attic (even though I think it might be too soon).

I peek in the bedroom with the pink walls. In the bed, a girl lies asleep on her stomach, as if floating facedown on an ocean of white sheets. Her hair is blonde and pure. I reach out and cradle a lock between my fingers. It makes me giggle, but I control my volume. I tell her she’s beautiful. She remains motionless.

In the next room, a young boy slumbers peacefully. I approach him and study his face. His head is shaved and I feel disappointed. I can smell him from the doorway, sleeping as a motionless image. I stand quietly and watch him rest.

**
It’s late when I climb back down from the attic. The whole house is dark and I wait for my eyes to adjust before I go downstairs. In the main room, there is no light apart from a few remaining embers in the fireplace. I sit down before it to warm myself. All is quiet, but after a few minutes I begin to decipher faint sounds coming from behind the door of the next room. I focus intently on the sound. It’s the sound of fucking. The noise is labored and uncoordinated. I listen for a few moments, then I go over to the door. I run my fingers lightly against the grain of the wood. I continue to listen but quickly grow fed up and I knock. The fucking stops. I go back up to the attic.

Day six

I didn’t sleep last night. Instead, I stayed up and hung all the Christmas ornaments from the attic rafters. I think it looks much better now.

**
After I’m sure that no one is home, I climb downstairs and go directly to the bathroom with the jacuzzi. I draw myself a big, warm bath and have a nice soak. I feel my bones grow soft and I splash around until the water goes cold. I get out and shave with a razor I find in a cupboard. I work slowly and carefully comb over every whisker with the blade. When I’m finished, I grab a hand towel from the rack. You are Loved is embroidered along the lacey edge. It makes me feel good inside. I wipe off my cock and put the towel back on the rack. I see the cat resting stretched out across the tile, passively observing me as I groom.

**
It’s late when I curl up beneath my blankets. I try to fall asleep but am unable. The boy is alone in his room smoking pot. He blows the smoke into the vent on his ceiling and the fume travels up into the attic which fills with smoky musk. I get disappointed in the boy and the odor makes me sick. He coughs. I miss him already, I think.

Day seven

Sundays are the best to leave because most folks are at church. It gives me the privacy to take care of every last thing I need to finish.

I go into the kitchen and feast one last time. I eat peanut butter and celery with a few pieces of bread on the side. When I’m done I go into the laundry room and change into some new clothes. Something warm, I think as I climb into a pair of sweatpants.

**
I locate the television and press the power button. The screen illuminates but shows nothing but a snowstorm of interference. Harsh static grates me ears. I watch the snowstorm for a while with no purpose.

The room becomes darker in gradual degrees as the light is sucked out. The snowstorm also fades. Total darkness arrives.

**
The cat comes to say goodbye. It purrs and meows and demands to be scratched. I take it in my arms and tell it it’s beautiful. It squirms but I am patient. It squirms more fiercely. I tell it I mean no harm. It scratches my arm. I bend it. It cooperates. I hang it in the attic with all the other ornaments before I leave for good.