Cigarette Break

The cat that wasn’t really there
ran across my vision again. He is
all black, except for a small amount
of white at the tip of his tail and
just under his little chin. Sometimes
he sits at the edge of my peripheral
and just stares at me with his glowing
green eyes. Other times, like this time,
he darts across in front of me, startling
me, forcing me to take a step back.
This cat, that no one can see but me,
knows I abhor his presence, yet still
he haunts me – toys with my mind.
I hate that fucking cat.

I forget about the cat for a moment
and sit down in my chair that faces
the small copse of trees. Birds, big
blue jays and regal cardinals, flit
among the branches, singing their
songs and calling out to one another.
I watch as they dart from limb to
limb, tree to tree, and from the trees
to the small awning that covers my
deck. I watch as one breaks from
the flock and dives down towards
me, it’s beady little black eyes locked
on mine and I scream, jumping up
out of my chair, throwing myself
against the wall, covering my face
with my arms, shaking like a leaf in
a strong wind, waiting for the impact
… but the impact never comes and
my screams die in a hoarse whisper.
The bird is nowhere to be found.
Was there ever even a single bird?
I hate those fucking birds.

I pick my chair up off the deck and
sit back down, my eyes drawn to
the Poplar planks with their ellip-
tical knotholes. As my eyes slide
across the wood, I find a multitude
of eyes staring back at me, blinking,
some of them crying, and the largest
one bleeding. I shake my head to try
try to clear my vision, but the eyes
have me. The pupils trapped in the
wood, following my swiveling head.
I close my eyes tight and scream in
frustration, but when I open them, I
find I am still being stared at.

I can’t take this anymore, so I slam
my cigarette down in the ashtray,
listening to it scream as I grind out
the butt and walk inside, where I bury
my head in my pillows, praying that
sleep will end this fucking nightmare.

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