the black cat is lying by my side when i wake, curled up in the fold of my crooked position. he stretches his arms out and unsheathes his claws and pulls at the blanket ever so gently. our eyes lock and he blinks. good morning, says the curse.
i put on some coffee and pull on a sweater. my bones feel brittle and my veins filled with dust. i can tell my feelings will be hurt today. i pull on a sweater and head to the store. the curse needs to be fed.
outside the wind is cold and still. the streets are empty and the traffic partial. there is no screaming and no sirens. there are no limping bodies blanketed in dirty coats, eyeing you for change or stumbling from the liquor store. no buses crunching along the month old snow. no young men in dark hoodies standing on the corner. i get the food and a beer and shuffle back to my building. i check my mailbox and there is nothing in it. there are no neighbors smoking in the hallway. no smells of cooking lingering in the air. no voices coming from the doors as i climb the stairs to my apartment.
i open the beer after i finish my coffee and turn on my computer. i check my email but no one has bothered to reach out. just anonymous spammers and invites to events ill never attend. i take a healthy swig from the bottle and an even healthier drag from a cigarette. in the rising smoke of my exhale i see impending doom. the black cat crawls into my lap, this will be my demise, i whisper to him, stroking his fur. he purrs.
i go downstairs and check the mail again. nothing. something breaks inside of me but i cant tell if it is my spirit or my heart. the hallway is quiet and cold. i go back up to my apartment.
inside i open another beer and after the first sip i begin to cough. it happens in a series of huge, racking shudders and for a moment i think that this is it. then it stops and i stand there in the wake of another episode. the black cat comes and rubs his body against my ankles, circling my feet in a figure eight. i can tell my feelings will be hurt today.