The young woman had a cat. The best kind of cat. Handsome and silky and loyal. She didn't know if she could go so far as to say the cat was loving, though she believed he was, the way he blinked up at her when she stroked him and the way he stretched out along the length of her body while she slept.
The young woman wanted children someday. Or, at least, a child. She'd only recently hit 23, though, and was content with her cat. He was just enough to look after so she felt needed, but not so much as to weigh her down. (Not that she had money to travel, but she liked keeping her options open.)
One day she married a man who was kind to her cat, because he loved the young woman, but didn't like cats as a species. He was afraid of them. And, the woman admitted, he should be. Her cat had been known to lash out with teeth and claws for no reason she could discern. He had, in fact, bitten the man the first time the man and cat had met.
The woman had her first child and became terrified of many irrational things. One of those things being that she'd have to give up her beloved cat so he wouldn't hurt the baby. This never came true. In fact, the cat and the baby got on fine. Better than fine. Except that the baby, a boy, developed allergies to the cat.
As the cat aged, the man began to shake his head at the woman who would get up in the middle of the night to clean up after the cat. The bodily fluids that saturated carpet and wood and even trickled down a heat vent. But he never pressured her to give up the cat. He knew how much she loved it.
Then the day came when the cat stopped getting up from the office chair where he napped. He forgot how to find his litter box. He no longer stretched out along the length of the woman while she slept. He was too old to carry on and she was too worried of what the next day would hold, of how much damage he'd do.
So, the woman, no longer young, had to give up the cat.
Two years passed, after which she felt ready to adopt a new cat. She didn't, though. She knew she couldn't walk the tightrope of keeping a cat without irritating her husband. Besides misery would overtake her boy, with sneezing and coughing and itching. And, indeed, without a cat around, she was much healthier, too.
This, however, didn't stop her from aching for the cat. The small, soft body that unfurled itself only for her, that had been with her through so many transitions and traumas.
She remained catless.
"Do you think you'll ever get over him?" her husband asked kindly one night.
"No," she said. And she knew she never would.