When He Was

Charlie Was There (Written April 4, 2019)

When I was a girl Charlie was there,
A wandering shadow, a ghost in the night.
Charlie was a fighter, ferocious and cold,
Who took whatever he might.

The others hated Charlie, who did as he pleased,
Who ate what he wanted and went where he would.
Charlie was scary, and ugly to boot,
And didn’t care, how others thought he should.

But when I was sad it was Charlie who came,
Charlie who appeared whenever I cried.
When I was too lonely to know what to do,
It was Charlie who always stayed by my side.

And then he was gone, when my heart was still,
Off into the distance, or the sunset, or anywhere.
He’s not with me, all grown up now, anymore,
But when I was a girl Charlie was there.


For those interested, Charlie was my old cat. He was a boss cat, if ever one existed. We called him Carface, and it certainly fit. He wasn’t a particularly friendly cat- my sadistic toddler of a sister made certain of that- but he was a good cat. He kept animals away from the house, be they mice or snakes or foxes. He was quiet, too. Mostly, if he wanted something, he just took what he liked. He learned to open the cupboards and take things. He lost half his tail in a fight with a fox and had a big scar across his face from an ulcer he got as a kitten. He wasn’t a sleek and pretty cat. He was a good farm cat, and mostly we were pleases to leave it at that.

But whenever I was really sad, back then, Charlie always showed up. Always. He might show up at the window, or come out from under the bed, but he always showed up. It was so consistent that, as a kid, I was sure he was actually my guardian angel in disguise.

And then I left for college and Charlie left for good. Much like how he lived, he didn’t leave any mess behind for us to deal with. He just left and didn’t come back. He was old- we owned him for almost 18 years. Maybe he just died. Maybe he lost a fight, finally. Who knows. One way or the other, Charlie left to join the Great Hunt. That’s what we told my younger siblings, anyway.

I don’t know why I thought of Charlie today, but I did. He was a good cat, and I still miss him, five years later. I didn’t even know he was gone until months after the fact. I’d been away and nobody wanted to tell me. Maybe that’s why I still expect him to show up again. I guess I just feel like maybe he’s around somewhere still, watching quietly from the shadows. It would be a very Charlie thing to do.


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