A Distraction Fic
Alexander Gordon Jahans
"Vacancy" read the young woman from the ad in the shop window "We have recently lost our pet cat and are currently looking for a replacement: Enquire within."
Sally was intrigued by the ad. It seemed so incongruous, if you want a pet cat you go out and buy one. Who would stick up a flyer and wait?
So Sally went inside the shop.
It was a small convenience store, filled with bottles of fizzy drinks and sugary snacks.
"Nice place you've got here" said Sally idly.
"Thanks" said the guy behind the counter, he looked to be in his fifties, had balding grey hair and wore knitted jumpers like they were a second skin.
"You here about the vacancy?" he asked
Sally laughed at that and caught his eye. "Yes" she said knowingly "Yes, I am"
The guy behind the counter nodded and spoke into the intercom "Walani we've got a young woman here enquiring about the vacancy"
He clicked off the intercom and smiled awkwardly at her.
Sally returned the awkward smile and put her hands in the pockets of her hipster jeans.
A few moments later an old woman with long grey hair entered from a side door.
Sally watched the silky haired woman circle her, studying her.
"How old are you my dear?" asked the old woman
"23" replied Sally instinctually before realising how odd the question was.
"You'll do" said the old woman
"For what?" asked Sally
"Why the vacancy of course" said the old woman "I do take it that's why you're here?"
"Sorry" said Sally, confused now "The flyer said you were looking for a replacement for your pet cat"
"Yes, that's the vacancy" said the old woman "I thought you were interested in the position?"
Sally stared at her "Well yes I was curious but only because I didn't know the full story. What do you mean anyway?"
The old woman sighed "We lost our cat 3 months ago and well I just can't take seeing them die anymore plus there's the whole consent thing that's been bothering me."
Sally had to interject at this "What's there to consent to? It's a cat, it doesn't know any better."
The old woman scowled "Yes, well consent is important to me. You have a student debt yes? Maybe struggling to find a job? If you'll be our cat for ten years we'll pay your debt off and give you a reasonable allowance."
"To be your pet?" said Sally incredulous
"To be our cat" said the old woman defensively "Cats are very independent, they just look pretty like the occasional stroke or cuddle"
"Well thanks but no thanks. I think I'll pass" said Sally
"Well take my card in case you change your mind" said the old woman.
"Fine" said Sally taking the card and storming out.
She snorted as she left "Local shops"
3 months later Sally was in a freezing mouldy flat about to eat today's cold tin of beans for the second week in a row when her lecturer called to check on her luck finding a job after university and as she fumbled to put the phone back in her purse, the card the old woman had given her fell ouyt onto the floor.
Sally stared at the tin of beans and then at the card. She picked up her phone and started to dial...