How long do I have left with my constant companion?
Each morning I rise, hang my head over the side of the bed and watch for his chest to rise. It does, and he senses me watching him, so stirs to life. He stands, stretches as though in salutation to the sun, and moves with stiff and stilted steps towards my hand which I have stretched out from beneath the covers to greet him.
He licks my hand a few times, pauses as though reflecting on his thoughts, then slowly paces around the edge of the bed to where you are getting out. He stops, sniffs your knee and waits for you to open the bedroom door. Now you do and leave through it, calling to your little mate to join you.
He moves towards the door, pauses at it and stops to look back at me. Off you go I say. So he goes. I lie there listening to his toenails tapping their unsteady rhythm down the wooden stairs.
You made it You say gently. You are making breakfast coffees. I hear the tap filling, the kettle switch turned on, the spoon in the porcelain cups. And now human footsteps toward the front door, which I hear open.
Now tick tack tick tack tick tack. Little paws across the wooden floor. Off he goes. Out into the street to survey his territory: Cat food next door, dry leaves and long grass in which to poo, street light on which to cock his leg, building site for the sound of men’s voices, their work boots, their pats, their left over pies. I follow his path with my ears, listening to the jingling of his dog tags.
By now I have joined you downstairs. We are sitting sipping at hot sweet and bitter coffees. He returns. Tick tack tick tack tick tack on the wooden floor.
You’re back I say. He coughs, coughs, coughs, wretches, hacks. He walks directly towards me, moving then to underneath the table and between the legs of empty chairs to stop at my legs. He licks my knee twice. Pauses momentarily, then eases his weary body down onto the floorboards. His head, he lowers to the floor with a thud. He sighs deeply, passes wind and begins to snore.
You and I smile and shake our eads.
How will the mornings pass without him?
He sighs again now, on the floor just behind me, waiting as I type. My constant companion.