Cat Food


All Mr. Lin could think about was how badly he needed to get home. 

It was a Wednesday evening and he was just closing up the antiques shop after a long day. As he slumped in his chair by the cash register, he counted and recounted the money earned for that day before locking the drawers, turning off the lights and finally, heading out for the night.

When Mr. Lin had moved to San Francisco with his wife ten years ago, it was a Wednesday night just like this. The first thing Mr. Lin noticed about his neighborhood was how empty the streets were. Where were all the people? Where were the street carts that sold barbeque chicken and beef? This was definitely not like the city he grew up in. The second thing he wondered was whether or not his wife would be happy here. Then again, they never really talked about these things.

As Mr. Lin walked, he zipped up his thick jacket and pulled his grey scarf a little tighter around his neck. Did it seem colder tonight than last night? Mr. Lin could not remember the last time he had truly experienced the cold. The cold eats at you, chilling your bones from the inside out until you slowly lose the ability to feel. This was nothing like the cold back home.

Just as Mr. Lin was about to round the corner, he noticed a small stray cat scratching at the ground near a park bench. He stopped walking, observing the cat as it continued to scratch at the wet dirt surrounding the bench. Mr. Lin knew how much he needed to get home; his wife was probably staying up for him, tapping her pen on the dining room table as she waited. But for some reason he didn’t want to leave the cat alone. As he approached the stray animal, he noticed that it had white fur, like snow, but the cat was so dirty that from afar it appeared to have a grey coat. The cat stopped in its tracks and stared. Then it proceeded to lick its paws while Mr. Lin took a seat on the bench.

“You hungry?” Mr. Lin asked the cat.

“Meow,” the cat responded.

“I have turkey sandwich left from lunch. Would you like some?” Mr. Lin dug into his coat pocket and pulled out an unfinished turkey sandwich. Half of the turkey stuck out of the bread and fell on the ground near his feet.

“Oops.” Mr. Lin said, just as the cat moved closer and began licking the meat on the ground. Mr. Lin watched as the cat proceeded to chew on the dirt-covered turkey, before swallowing it whole.

“I have some more. Here.” Mr. Lin ripped off a small piece of turkey and held it out for the cat to eat. He continued the same movement while feeding the cat, ripping off small pieces and holding them out with his hand.

“You know, I should really get home to my wife.” Mr. Lin mused.

“Meow,” the cat responded, impatient for the next piece of meat.

“I didn’t realize it before, but I think she is unhappy here.” Mr Lin ripped off another piece, holding it out for the cat.

“She wants to go away.”

“Meow.”

“What do you think I should do?”

“Meow.”

“I can’t lose her.”

“Meow.”

Realizing he wouldn’t get a response, Mr. Lin sighed and fed the last piece of turkey to the cat, then opened his palms and shook them to emphasize that he was out of food.

“Sorry little cat. I have to go now.” Mr. Lin got up from the bench, shook off the crumbs and stuffed the empty sandwich bag back into his coat pocket.

“Meow.” The cat circled the ground next to his feet, sniffing for possible leftovers.

Mr. Lin bent down to pet the cat, but it quickly jumped out of his reach. It stared at Mr. Lin for what felt to him like two minutes, before casually walking off, as if it didn’t have a single care in the world.

As the cat strolled carelessly toward the park, Mr. Lin sighed once more. He adjusted the scarf around his neck, then continued his walk back home, where divorce papers waited patiently on the dining room table.

© 2016 Erin Siu / Photo source