George was back.
He was there waiting for me when I arrived home from work. I watched him watch me as I clambered out of my car. I watched him start to move forward as I headed up the path. Despite the twinge of guilt, I was secretly overjoyed to see him. My heart positively sang. And – just look at him – he knew it.
“I thought I told you not to come back.” I hesitated slightly and put the bags I was carrying down on the path, unsure of quite how best to proceed.
George simply looked at me; gave me those eyes. Gave me that face. How was I ever going to win this one? With a sigh, I picked my bags up again and moved round him. “You can’t come in.”
At first, he just stood there, silent and accepting as I quickened my step towards the house. I’ve done it, I told myself. I’ve done it.
But I wasn’t quick enough and my one brief moment of hesitation was all he needed. In the blink of an eye, he was there ahead of me on the step, his stocky frame blocking my way into the house. George was not taking “no” for an answer.
“George, no!” Panic started to mount now, although I honestly wasn’t sure why. I glanced right and left in the hopes of catching a neighbour. The road was empty; the village green devoid of football-kicking kids. Not even the chap with the Alsatian was out this evening. I was alone. With George. For a long moment, we looked at each other, neither of us willing to move first.
“Please go,” I tried again at length and took a conciliatory step forward; an attempt to show that I could be reasonable. Approachable. George didn’t move.
Suddenly, with a slight bang against the sash, one of my cats appeared at the sitting room window, startling us both. She looked out at the scene on the path, her eyes wide. Her plaintive mew, muted by the glass between us, still managed to reach me. I had been caught. Again. With George. She mewed her disapproval again, one paw now pitifully smearing the glass.
“You see, George?” I told him, trying to keep the regret from my voice, “You can’t come in. Much as I love you, you can never come in.”
George mewed at me; gave me those eyes again. Gave me that face. Who do you belong to? I asked silently, not for the first time. Heartbroken, I pushed past him, motivated now by my mewling housecat waiting inside for her tea. Half-heartedly, George tried to join me.
“I’m sorry,” I murmured and closed the door behind me.
* * * *
A week or so later and a sunny evening had settled gently on the village. I am now padding out down the street in T-shirt and linen trousers, enjoying a warm breeze on bare arms. Enjoying the pink summer haze hovering over the green. There is a relaxed purpose to my step as I head in the direction of the new residential home at the end of our road.
I stop suddenly. There, ahead of me, is George. He, it would seem, is heading towards the residential home too. About to call him, I correct myself; I know his real name now.
“Cyril!” I try the name out; relaxed in the knowledge that, as well as his real name, I now know that he has a good home further along the street. He stops, turns to look at me, and mews.
“Hello Cyril,” I say as I near him. I move in closer, pleased to see him and delighted at the thought of running my fingers through that thick ginger coat of his. He mews at me again; a hint of disinterest in his demeanour. And, is that a scowl?
“Cyril?” I ask, slightly wounded. “It’s me!”
Cyril turns away and walks on ahead. Towards the residential home.
Towards a new love.
© Susan Lambert