The orange one.
Mimi the cat.
“Valerie,” the woman at the front desk said, “the orange one died.”
She said it with a smile on her face, in the way that Thais always have a smile on their face. Even when they’re telling you that someone you care deeply about is dead.
And it makes it confusing to understand.
Just like when you answer the phone at work to someone named Jennifer, who you assume is the Jennifer in operations who you’ve been doing web work for, and she tells you that dad has died and you wonder why she’s telling you this.
Until you realize that it’s your sister on the other end of the phone.
And then it finally clicks what they are telling you. And you feel it in your stomach.
And you immediately have regrets. Like, I shouldn’t have told her yesterday that I like her brother more. Or, I should have told him I love you.
And you immediately are scared for yourself and everyone you know. Is my precious grey Lek going to get hit by a car too? Am I going to get cancer too?
And you think things you shouldn’t think. Thank God it wasn’t him. Why was it him and not her.
And you feel guilty.
And you blame yourself. If I hadn’t gone in to shower maybe I would have seen her and picked her up and the whole thing would have been avoided. Maybe if I had just gone to visit over the weekend it would have given him more strength.
I know that Mimi was just a cat. One that I’d casually hold and pet and let play with my hair. But she was still just a baby. And I have been staying at this hostel on and off long enough to form a bond with her and her brother Lek. And I love them as if they are my own.
And so I cried in the garden as I watched a Thai man dig a grave and Rob cover her with dirt.
And I’ll miss having her around.