Sophie looked out the window and watched the birds flit around in the yard. She scratched at the ice that had formed on the inside of the window and was glad to be inside a warm house. Still, she longed to feel the wind and to feel the grass scrunching under her shoes. It had been at least 3 years since she had been outside. She shook her head as if to shake away the memories of that day. Those memories have made her a prisoner in her own home.
She stood up and pulled the shades together. Determined to clear her mind of those horrible memories, she went about her daily chores. She dusted the living room furniture and moved on to the bedroom of her small home. The shades in the bedroom window were open and she moved quickly, looking away from the window, to close them. She dusted the bedroom furniture slowly and daydreamed that she was laying on a warm sandy beach listening to the waves crash nearby and the seagulls squawking above. She felt something move behind her and quickly spun around to find nothing there. After she dusted the old armoire she went into the bathroom to dust and tidy up the sink. She stood still in front of the frosted window and let the warm sun bathe her pale skin. Sometimes she stood in that spot for almost an hour until the sun moved and the warm beam disappeared. She felt something brush against the back of her leg and she turned to see a shadow moving quickly across the floor of the hallway.
After she finished her work in the bathroom she returned to the living room to get the vacuum out of the closet. She noticed the open shades in the living room window and, without looking out the window, she closed the shades again. As she turned toward the closet where she kept the vacuum cleaner she saw the menacing green eyes staring at her. She stared back for a few seconds and hurriedly took the vacuum cleaner from the closet and plugged it into the outlet. She vacuumed the rug in the living room and unplugged the cleaner. As she took it into the bedroom she knew the shades would be opened and she would close them again before she vacuumed the room.
That was her routine every day. She ate very little and cleaned the kitchen after every meal. The window in front of the sink was covered in aluminum foil so the kitchen was always dark without the light on. That made it a dreary room but without the foil she would be closing the shades every time she turned around. As she stood in front of the sink she would often wonder if the bird feeder still hung outside the kitchen window. She used to fill the feeder every couple of days and she watched the birds gather and eat the seeds. But now she wouldn't dare go outside to fill the feeder or for anything else. Not after what happened the last time she went outside.
It was a beautiful summer morning and Sophie had gone outside to fill the bird feeder and add fresh water to the birdbath. There were several cats that roamed the neighborhood and she always shooed them away when she saw them. She knew they were there to catch the birds that came to eat from her feeder and bathe in her birdbath. She never really cared for cats anyway but one cat caught her attention. He seemed to be more interested in her than in the birds. The cat was skinny and dirty looking. He had yellow fur and piercing green eyes in a head that seemed too big for his body. He followed her around the yard as if he was stalking her. She filled the feeder and went to turn on the hose to freshen the birdbath. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a black cat running towards the feeder and she picked up the water hose and ran toward the feeder. The cat had caught a finch by the time she reached it and was walking toward the street when Sophie swung the water hose at the cat and hit it in the head with the end of the hose. The bird fell out of the cat's mouth, fluttered about for a few seconds and flew away. The cat lay motinonless on the ground as blood oozed out of the cut in the top of its head. Sophie felt a shiver run down her spine and the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. She turned to run to the front porch and froze in her tracks. There were dozens of cats of all colors sitting on the porch. All staring at her with their ears pulled flat on their heads and their mouths slightly open. She moved towards them and waved her hands to shoo them away but they hissed back at her and sat motionless. Finally, one cat walked from the porch between Sophie and the other cats to the side of the house. Sophie watched him and he seemed to be coaxing her to follow. She reluctantly walked toward the yellow cat and he led her to the back of her house and to the back door. She realized he was saving her from the other angry cats and she moved to open the screen door. As she opened the door she felt the cat run between her legs and into her house.
Sophie tried to shoo the cat out of the house but he wouldn't budge. Finally she got a broom and swatted at the cat. He looked at her and again at the living room window. There were 8 cats sitting on the window ledge looking in at her. She opened the back door and propped the screen door open to try and shoo the yellow cat out the door. Just as she picked up the broom the yellow cat walked slowly to the back door. She thought she had won when she noticed dozens more cats sitting outside the door with their ears drawn back and their mouths slightly open. The yellow cat stared at her and she stared back and forth between the cats outside and the yellow cat inside. She put the broom down and carefully shut the back door. The yellow cat walked into the living room and jumped on the sofa. The cats in the window all jumped down and ran out of the yard. She looked out the window and the dead cat was laying on her porch in front of the door.
Sophie finished her vacuuming and sat down to make the grocery list. She would call the supermarket and have this weeks' groceries delivered to the back door. The first few times she placed the order the man on the other end of the phone wrote down her items as she called them out and when she said, "14 cans of albacore tuna" he would repeat it as a question. He didn't do that any more and he would end the call with "okay lady, we'll leave it on your back porch. Same credit card?" After the groceries were delivered, with the yellow cat sitting by the back door, she would open it and quickly bring the groceries inside and shut the door. When she grabbed the groceries from the porch she could see the cats out of the corner of her eye. They all sat on the fence staring at her. She put the groceries up and went into the living room to close the shades again.