I called my mom’s cell that morning, three years ago, to check on the family— my dad answered the phone, his voice low slow. My heart sunk to my stomach with thoughts of my mother.
“Whats wrong,” I said, scared to hear what the answer might be.
“The cat expired.” Relief was quickly followed by a replay of the last sentence he exhaustedly said. The cat expired. Who says expired instead of the other ones: passed away, died, bit the dust??? If it hadn’t been for the pain behind my dads voice, I would have thought it was some kind of a joke and in reply, I would have said one or all of the following: “Are you sure?” “Did you smell it?”
“Why, is it moldy?”
“It should still be good for a week.” On the verge of a smirk, or worse, blatant outrageous laughter, which would have been followed by a painful strike of lighting through my body from the heavens, a split-second slideshow of past visits to the East to see the family played in my head— Waking up with a warm pressure on my head, my little sisters high-pitched voice giggling “get off, Elle’s head Shadow!”
Quick fade “Get your sister some water, Christina”. “I dont want any, thanks” “Its not for you, its for the cat.”
Quick fade “Hi Elle, wanna talk to Shadow?,” my sister says over the phone. Before I can utter “no”, I already hear a soft purr from the other end. “Say something, Elle” I almost hang up, instead I mumble “hi Shadow”.
Quick fade “Come here, pussy,” my dad says lovingly to the cat, as I nearly fall out of the kitchen chair in laughter. Its so hard to keep a straight face especially when I realize that there isnt a slight hint of maliciousness in his voice.
I was back on the phone with my dad again. I’m so sorry, I said. We exchanged a few more words. We hung up. I guess sometimes you just have to listen to the voice, rather than the noise words sometimes make. Other times, it really helps to have a dad who uses words the way the average person does.
But then again, that is one of the many things I love about my dad. Happy Father’s Day.