And then one night she just decided that enough was enough, and she made him his favourite meal and decided that she was going to ask him.
By that time they had been living together for six months. Ever since her feelings of loneliness had prompted her to go online to look for a companion, at which point she saw a picture of him, and stopped looking. They met a few times and got on well, and it turned out he needed somewhere to live so she decided it would make sense if he came to live with her. And things were ok for a while. The thing that worried her, the thing that nagged at her soul, was the feeling that she did not really know him. Of course, she knew things like his favourite food or the position he liked to sleep in. Even intimate things, how he liked to be touched. But she didn’t know how he would react in an emergency, whether he could be trusted. She didn’t know whether he was fundamentally good or bad. It seemed important, but not the kind of thing you could just ask.
She decided to dress up for him and put on some of her favourite music, thinking she would be able to learn a lot from his reactions. But when he sauntered in to the dining room he barely glanced at her and he didn’t seem to pay any attention to the music either, didn’t even acknowledge that it was playing. Then he started to eat, without even waiting for her to sit down first.
And that was when she cracked, and decided she would just have to ask.
“Look, I need to ask you something, something important. I need to know more about you, I need to know what you think about all these things. I need to know whether I can trust you, whether you are kind. I need to know whether you will still love me when you don’t need me any longer.”
He stopped eating and looked up at her, as if he could tell that she was speaking but didn’t understand the words, or as if he hadn’t been able to follow. But it looked as if he knew something was expected of him.
So he just turned to look at her. There was a pause. Then he said, “Meow.”
She put her head in her hands and surrendered with silent tears.
He finished his food and then left, just sauntered out of the room and through the kitchen, clambered through the flap in the back door.
The house was quiet.
She ate as much of her dinner as she could stomach, turned off the music, got changed out of her nice clothes. As she did the washing up she couldn’t help thinking about the fact that he had not answered her question, and that the lack of an answer was itself an answer of sorts. She sat and read her book for a while, then she went to bed early and lay awake feeling very much alone.
It was late when she heard him return through the back door. She pretended to be asleep, lay so still that even breathing seemed like a movement that might give her away. He was coming up the stairs, making little noises under his breath, then he slipped into the bedroom and climbed onto the bed.
She didn’t move. She didn’t make a sound. He settled down on her legs and she could feel the weight of his body on hers. Even then, even after everything else that had happened that evening, it was a comfort to feel his warmth, it was a comfort to not feel alone.