The Phantom and the Orange Cat

Image Credit: Mandi Z., Phoenix, AZ I walk into the room. My human, Christine, sits on her rocking chair. I jump onto her lap. She pulls me close and pets me. I feel his eyes watching her. He’s been watching since she moved into the opera house. He’s a man with a tortured soul. I fear the times when his voice floods the room. I know his thoughts. Christine, do you know how much danger you’re in? I look into my human’s clueless eyes. Let me into your mind. I need to speak to you. How I wish I can speak. I hear his voice come from one of the objects in the room. Christine’s hand goes still. A dreamy expression falls upon her face. I need to get her out of here. But how? I’m a cat. I do the only thing I can do: I cry. “Meow, meow, meow.” Christine quickly wakes from her dreamy state. “Why are you crying?” She asks in her soft voice. He stops singing, clearly disturbed. “Could you show me what you want?” she asks. I jump off her lap and start to lead her out of the room. Before I leave I turn and see the phantom’s reflection in the mirror. I shiver and walk out with Christine. I feel the phantom’s eyes on both of us this time. I lead Christine to a buffet in one of the big halls where many people are dining. I scratch the leg of a table with chicken on it. I do this so the phantom won’t suspect anything. I’m simply a hungry animal. Christine nods, takes a plate of chicken, and bends down to give it to me. I force the chicken into my well-fed stomach. I look up a few times while I’m eating to make sure Christine is still standing next to me. After I finish the chicken, she takes the plate into the kitchen. When she returns, she picks me up. I cuddle in her warmth. Before Christine can leave the hall with me she bumps into a nobleman. They talk to each other and find out they know each other. I’m happy as can be. This is who Christine should be with. The nobleman caresses my head. I purr. When they finish talking, the nobleman gives Christine and me a big hug. He bows and Christine curtseys. Then Christine makes her way with me out of the hall. The door creeks as Christine closes it. I hear the voice of the phantom again coming from the mirror. He sings. “Who is that foolish suitor…?” Christine sings back, in her gentle, sweet voice. “Angel of music…” I hate when she calls him the angel of music. She thinks he’s the angel her father sent to watch over her when he died. He is not. “Where are you hiding?” Christine asks in her singsong. “Where you see your reflection.” That is when Christine realizes he's in the mirror. I start to cry again. I hear banging on the door. “Christine who is in there with you?” The nobleman asks in a loud, demanding voice. Hopefully he can save her. I need help. Christine doesn’t listen. She walks to the mirror. The phantom holds out his hand. Christine! The nobleman is unable to break open the door. Christine takes the phantom’s hand. He pulls her into the mirror. I’m still in her arms. We are pulled into a huge corridor lit by candles. “Who is this?” The phantom asks in his singsong. “My cat.” Christine sings back. She holds me out to him so he can touch me. He pets me once, carelessly. I look into his eyes. Doesn’t he know that he’s the one who kills me in the end? He takes Christine’s hand and walks with us down the corridor where there is a long stream waiting. We jump into the boat. The phantom rows. He and Christine are still singing. I want to put earplugs on. I’m an animal; I hear twice as well as a human. Each note seems to shatter my heart in a new, terrifying way. Christine’s voice grows fearful and high. She knows that he is the phantom of the opera. Christine continues to ride with him. Not trying to escape. Not trying to run. The phantom’s white mask turns dark. Christine, you’re in trouble! I bury my head into her flowing white dress. I can’t look!

ROBERT HOEKMAN JR.: And There Were Tears on the Floor (My Father in the Rain, pt. 4)

No one cries but Grandma. She cries at the wake after, in the church basement next to the table with the sheet cake. I tell her hang in there, Grandma, because I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. Then I go into the bathroom and stand inside the stall. Robert Hoekman Jr thinks you … Continue reading ROBERT HOEKMAN JR.: And There Were Tears on the Floor (My Father in the Rain, pt. 4) →

ROBERT HOEKMAN JR.: My Father in the Rain (My Father in the Rain, pt. 5)

At the cemetery, I look at my father in his dark suit and dark shoes and I see a drop of water on his cheek and I think it might be a tear. But then I think no, it’s only the rain. And then it rains and rains and rains. Robert Hoekman Jr thinks you … Continue reading ROBERT HOEKMAN JR.: My Father in the Rain (My Father in the Rain, pt. 5) →


Rough and sharp, her voice is filled with demons. She hides beneath her tongue, a monster dancing before you. Angry and alert, her life is emergency. She rails and hurls insults – of course it’s all your fault. You hold on tight and pray you’ll make it through her teenage years. Eliza Mimski, a retired … Continue reading ELIZA MIMSKI: Holding On →

AJ JOSEPH: In Hindsight

“You chose,” he’d remind me later. “You could’ve gone home.” “You needed help! Neither of you knew how to do it right!” I retorted. “Well, is it almost done?” He’d asked thrice before. Feet aching, sweat pouring down my face, I replied “Yes, the turkey will be finished by dinnertime.” AJ Joseph occasionally writes at Words … Continue reading AJ JOSEPH: In Hindsight →


“Pa! They’re here.” “Who?” “The crows.” “Jeez, Ma, give it a rest.” “They’re watching.” “What?” “The garden, just waiting for the plants to grow, ripen.” “Ma!” “Then they’ll do their dirty work.” “Yer crazy, cut it out!” “Pa! One landed!” “Wait, Ma, no! Come back. Heck! Crow for dinner again.” Robin writes in the odd … Continue reading ROBIN D ANDERSON: Watching →