In Memoriam: My Slush

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Yesterday evening I received a phone call I’ve always dreaded. My mum rang to tell me Slush had been run over. That he was no longer with us.

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I’ve not heard my dad choked up since my granddad died when I was young. But last night we were both on opposite ends of the phone, and neither of us were able to speak. Eventually he managed to say, “I brought him home. I’m going to bury him in the garden.”

This is the man who was forever complaining about being woken up by Slush at 4am every morning, with a slap of the paw to his nose like, “wake the hell up, man! I need my chicken.” But dad loved him. We all did.

It seems daft writing this. Cats die every day, don’t they? But writing is my release, and I’m hoping that in preserving my memories of him, I can help myself heal. Everyone thinks their cat is special. Myself included. To keep him to myself is selfish, so I’m going to share him with you.

Slush was one of the most beautiful, funny, intelligent cats I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. He was loved by so many people, and I’m glad many of my friends had the chance to meet him, and devastated the others did not.

He became our cat not long after I began High School. He was gorgeous as a kitten in the palm of our neighbour’s hand, and he was even more so as an adult. I fell in love with him. Our other cat Holly didn’t. But she always tolerated him.

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When we got him, he hadn’t been mircochipped, wormed, neutered or looked after well at all. We had him treated for all of the above, but then the vet told us his teeth were all rotten. That he was in pain every time he ate. So he had them all removed.

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At first I felt terrible for him. But as time went on, he got used to eating without teeth, and it became hilarious to see him dribbling all over the place and his tongue casually hanging out. I had my very own Toothless.

He used to sit on top of the shed, overlooking the dogs next door, knowing he was just out of reach of them. They’d go crazy, jumping up to try and reach him, and he’d just sit there, not even flinching.

Slush’s favourite thing in the world to do, like most cats, was sleep. You could guarantee that any form of cushion or quilted soft thing had Slush on it.

I think his second favourite thing was being brushed. I used to sit there for ages holding the brush in my hand, with him rubbing his face against it. He would purr and dribble and I’d end up with grey fur everywhere.

His third favourite thing was probably sitting on the front wall looking all pretty, waiting for people to walk past and give him attention. And boy did he get attention. Yeah, he knew he was gorgeous. Each time we’d look out the window cautiously in case the passers-by stuffed him in their prams and ran off.

Slush was mischievous. He was the stereotypical walk-across-all-the-surfaces-knocking-things-off-until-they-wake-up kind of cat. At 2am he’d jump onto my chest of drawers, climb on top of the fish tank and nearly make the lid cave in, before walking across my keyboard, “clunk clunk clunk”-ing on all the keys.

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During my phase of disliking spaghetti bolognese Slush decided to stick his head in it. He ate the minced meat fine, but when it came to the spaghetti he had to keep flinging his head back to try and swallow it. It was beautiful watching a cat headbanging with spaghetti hanging out of his mouth.

We could never do family activities at home without him wanting to be a part of it. And rightly so. Whenever mum was doing a jigsaw he’d lie in the centre of it and pick the pieces up with his paw, or jump up on the table and slide across by accident, taking the entire thing with him. We couldn’t play Scrabble either.

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At Christmas he’d sit under the tree, knocking off any baubles he could reach. Once we made the mistake of wrapping up a cat treat Christmas stocking, and came downstairs to find the catnip had driven him wild and he’d clawed through it. The decorative beads became his favourite toy throughout the years.

In the Summer he’d sit under the rhubarb leaves like a mini parasol. He’d sit on the swing seat and happily sleep while you rocked it. He’d sit on the table and watch us eat, constantly sneaking closer to the food. I’d sneak him a bit of chicken.

Slush was always alpha cat. He started telling Holly off whenever he found one of her dumps after she unhousetrained herself. And when two strays decided to make a home out of our greenhouse, he put them in their place. He’d sit on the bench, just watching them, or grabbing the other’s tail between the slats when they got too close. This was his garden.

Slush wasn’t a lap cat, but he always gave the best cuddles. Usually these were in the early hours of the morning, but they were worth it to hear him purr. He loved being stroked under his chin. You could lie there with him on your chest for almost half an hour. Then he’d shake his head and give you a face full of dribble before getting off and sleeping.

He loved to sit in small boxes, no matter how uncomfortable he looked. On his mad half hours he’d do several laps of the house and attack anything and everything in his path. But he never hurt us. Either way, he never failed to make me laugh.

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He was a blue-eyed, fur-covered piece of perfection and happiness in my life. I was always happy around him, but that’s gone forever now and I have to come to terms with that somehow. I hope one day the tears will stop and the ache will lessen, but for now the pain of never seeing him again is unbearable. I wish I’d gone to see him just one last time.

At risk of sounding clichéd and soppy, it’s made it very real to me that bad things can happen to anyone at any time. That we need to make the most of spending time with the people and creatures we love. Because you never know when that phone will ring.

Goodbye, Slush. It was an honour to be your human.

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The Friendly Assassinations Dream

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It was Christmas Eve and me, my mum and dad were in a giant ASDA, getting everything last minute for Christmas. My parents were down the cheese and cracker aisle, so I wandered off to the home section in search of some nice candles for Jack. However, on the way there I saw him, pushing a trolley around with some people I didn’t know. He didn’t notice me.
I reached the candle section but they were all generically named and watered down scents, like ‘Apricot Passion’ and ‘Garden Rose.’ Some of the holders were interesting, with sparkly green holly leaves and other Christmas-related decorations, but they were shaped specifically to the candles on display (I think I’d have struggled to find an octagonal candle when that one was used up).
We finished the shopping and went home, but then mum said she’d be back soon and went out again. I settled into bed but left my light on, listening, waiting for her to come back. I grew nervous.
After tossing and turning I got up and walked around the house looking for her. My parents’ door was slightly ajar. Dad had also left his light on to guide mum’s way home, but he was already gently snoring.
I reached the back door, but it was already open. Someone was stood outside. I expected my mum, but instead I found Joe lurking in the shadows. In his worn leather jacket and dark hair he was good at hiding when he needed to. But I saw him.
He looked at me and winked, and then he was gone. I knew what it meant. I grabbed my coat and followed him out the door.
He was nowhere to be seen but I knew where I was going.  I called Josie and we met at the train station. We went into the little shop and bought sandwiches, eating them on the train. It was probably the last meal we’d eat for a while.
When we arrived at our destination, somehow our motorbikes were in the car park and ready to go. We rode them along the pavement at ridiculous speeds, barely avoiding plant pots and people, the world around us merely blurred white lines.
As we were riding, Josie yelled, “look, there’s Sam!” and sure enough, directly ahead of us, staring thoughtfully in our direction and smoking a cigarette, was True Blood’s Sam Merlotte. We slowed to talk to him, but stopped when we saw his expression. It was a mix of contemplation, anger and horror. We looked behind us. In the distance, a dark grey cloud of smoke billowed over the train station. And as we watched, it grew and burst out onto the street, heading straight for us as if it were alive.
Sam wasted no time. He jumped on his own bike and the three of us raced to keep ahead of the smoke. People were screaming and crying around us, but there was nothing we could do except save ourselves.
Eventually we reached the shop, to find Joe grinning in the doorway. He beckoned us in, curly hair bouncing on top of his head. Inside we found several of the resistance, some of which I knew very well. Jack was already there. I was glad to see Stephen had joined us too after The Incident. What he knew could prove valuable. And of course, the girl they were currently trying to take from us.
Robin.
She was sat by herself, far away from everyone else. Her dark fringe covered her eyes, making her impossible to read. She sat with her arms folded, legs crossed, quietly listening to those around her.
I wanted to go talk to her but was instantly suckered into the goings on in the music shop. The shop itself was really cool. There were vinyls lining the walls, and various different guitars on display. The Killers blared through an old stereo, and someone had to yell at Joe to turn it down. The walls were dark oak, almost as if we were in a hut. A hut with double glazing.
There were stairs leading up to a balcony in the centre of the room. This was where Joe stood, happily throwing an oversized shuriken around the room (but mostly getting it stuck in the ceiling tiles and pulling most of them down with it). I watched for a while, fearing for everyone’s lives a little.
Everyone was bustling between jobs and people. We were trying to figure out this latest attack; why bomb the station? Did they know I was arriving? Why Christmas Eve? Who was it this time? They had a habit of choosing people we knew, so who wasn’t accounted for? Stephen came over and nudged my arm. He showed me an envelope with a name and address written neatly on it in several coloured felt tip pens. My name.
“This was what I was given when I was told to… you know,” he said awkwardly. It was fine. I was over it. He’d changed his mind just in time and I was still alive… so I could forgive him.
Stephen went off to discuss it with other people, asking them questions about their envelopes.
Everyone was told to stay away from Robin, to give her some space. She looked miserable. I sat on the leather sofa by the window, looking out throught the blinds.
She sat beside me and rested her head on my shoulder. “What am I going to do?” She whispered. I rested my head on top of hers and sighed.
Someone came over to us and said, “you’re meant to be leaving Robin alone,” and before I could reply, Robin coldly said to him, “she is my step-mum. I will talk to her if I want.”
Well that’s news to me. But in my head I knew she was right. At some point not long ago I had taken her on as my child, despite her being potentially older than me. I swore I’d protect her. From anything.
I’d made her a promise. So I actively chose to fulfil it. I began preparations for her protection. I spoke with the group, to try and come up with a plan.
Then someone screamed, “Robin no!”
I turned instantly and heard the bell of the shop ring. Robin looked back one last time and smiled sadly, before she disappeared out of the shop. We all watched, frozen, as she walked out onto the street and stood still, waiting. The church bell chimed midnight, and an assassin jumped from the sky. She closed her eyes and held her arms out wide, accepting death, while we watched in helpless horror.
…Merry Christmas.