Seven days

Mum, don´t read this, it might be upsetting.

Not my best work, it´s more of a processing … process.

The box had gone cold by the time the train rolled into the city. It had taken Marissa an hour to get to this point. She´d had to change twice, constantly with a box in her hands. It was a very large box, from when she´d bought that new printer two years ago. All the other boxes had been for shoes and not large enough to fit her dead cat.
When Marissa had stepped off the first train on her journey, she´d noticed the stains on her jeans. Something had leaked out of the box.
It was midday when she ascended out of the big train station. She´d called up the crematorium this morning at nine, when her cat, Foxtrot, had finally stopped breathing. It had taken her almost two days to die. Marissa had stayed up, googling for help. WikiHow told her when her cat was really dead and various articles told her how to grieve her cat and how to dispose of the remains.
She´d found this animal crematorium online. It was closest to her. They all asked for at least a hundred Francs to burn her cat and put her in a box, probably more.
Some articles were about horror stories, about getting back the wrong ashes, about your pet being kept in a cool room, squashed in with a load of other cadavers.
Marissa had made a promise to her cat at four o´clock that night that she would be separately cremated and she would be buried with dignity. And this morning at nine-thirty she had set out to keep her promise.
The box in her hands, a bag hanging on her shoulder, the young woman walked up the street. According to the description on the website she was supposed to find it within ten minutes. But when she couldn´t locate the crematorium after almost half an hour, she got out her phone. She had forgotten to charge it over night, but if she was fast enough it would take her there.
According to Google Maps, she had passed it already, so she turned around, following the instructions. The box was getting heavy, now only using one arm. At one point the box popped open and she had to put it down on the floor to reassemble it. The cat was in a static position, legs now stretched out to meet the box´ bottom.
The crematorium was located on a side street on the second floor. The sign was very small and dark and it had a flame in the name. There was no lift, so Marissa carried the cat up the stairs.
The place smelled like chlorine. She walked up to the counter; put her box down on it. She had to wait five minutes until she could be greeted.
She filled in a form; they took away her cat and gave back the box.
Back at home she washed her hands. They said you should do that after touching a dead thing.
It was about five o´clock when she remembered to eat something. She sat at the table, chewing on bare crackers, staring at the sleeping place of her cat.
On a shelf in the kitchen. Marissa never cooked directly under it, but since they had moved into this apartment four years ago, Foxtrot had not budged from that shelf. So Marissa had laid it out with a blanket that she had changed from time to time when it had gathered enough fur to make a jumper.
Had they burned Foxtrot´s body already? Would they burn her tomorrow and stack her somewhere over night? Would they not cremate her at all and just give Marissa dust worth 150 Francs?
The next day came around lunch time, when Marissa finally got herself out of bed. She lay there, waiting for the cat to scratch at her door like she had done every morning. But Foxtrot never came.
When Marissa got out of bed at lunch time, she refilled the cat´s water bowl before she had a shower.
Her apartment was in a town, small, no garden, no balcony. She only had a long flower pot along the window sill, where the cat was to be buried. Traffic outside was always quite heavy, so that was not something that would wake Marissa up, necessarily.
There was no frozen pizza in the freezer. She had to cook. So she ate more crackers. On day three the crackers were also finished, so Marissa had to put some proper clothes on and go to the shop to buy frozen pizza and milk.
She still had five packets of cat food she didn´t know what to do with. Maybe she would have to get a second cat to finish them off. Or maybe she could just distribute it among the neighbours.
When she picked up her cat on day four, the place still smelled like chlorine.
Marissa Howard, she told the receptionist. He nodded and opened a metal cabinet. There were many boxes in there, a few urns. He skimmed them for the right name. Marissa felt like she was picking up a book she had preordered.
He returned with a small wooden box, wrapped in plastic, a sticker with their logo, name and contact details on it and a handwritten name. Foxtrot.
He charged her and she left, carefully carrying the box ahead of her. The box was warm for some reason. The train was vastly delayed so she stopped off at a fast food restaurant to get some sustenance, transporting the box on her tray, beside her chips and soft drink.
Back in her apartment she unwrapped the box like it was a present and threw away the wrapping. It was not like she would be needing to contact them any time soon.
Then she took her shovel she´d organised a day before and dug a small hole in the earth of the plant pot. She lay the box in the soil and covered it, then planted some seeds for cloves and watered it lightly.
She called the plant-to-be fox.
Late that night she ate frozen pizza and slept until one the next afternoon. She lived in a town that had a university, but no animal crematorium, but she was currently on holiday. The office where she worked part-time didn´t require her services at the moment, so on day six she met up with her friend Catherine.
She said it was sad that Marissa’s cat had died and then went on talking about her relationship issues, Marissa did the best she could to help.
That evening she did not spend her time looking at pictures of Foxtrot, because she was just a cat and she was now buried and it was over. She had work to do for uni, so she would have to pull herself together.
She watched the film New Moon and ate a frozen pizza, then slept until twelve the next day.


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