Unraveling After Hours

The other night, I rolled over in my sleep and pushed one of the cats out of the bed. The thud woke me up, though it didn’t seem to bother the cat. A chilly wind was dancing around the courtyard of our apartment building, and shouldering its way into a crack in our bedroom window. It was around 2:30 am—that restless, magical time when our thoughts tend to unravel like so many balls of yarn.

I’ve been thinking about how old our cats have gotten: They’ll turn 18 and 17, respectively, on Thanksgiving. When the temperatures begin to plummet—causing everyone to launch into a kind of end-of-the-year panic—it’s easy to ignore the inevitable. But now we’ve heard from our upstate neighbors that the first snow has fallen at Smallpeace, planting us firmly in the winter season. I am struck by how sneakily change happens. My male cat has begun howling at night, a sure sign of dementia. Only the sound of our voices makes him stop. My female has to paw at her bowl to find the water level. She has trouble seeing it in the dark.

I begin to brood about my graying hair, which I’ve only recently begun to have colored at a hip Brooklyn hair salon. Now, fully restored to my “natural” nut brown, it will be only four weeks before my roots, bright as a moonbeam, begin to peep through. I’ve started to make my appointments in advance, so as not to “leave it too long,” as my beautician grandmother used to say—and wish, as a dear friend begins her first round of chemo treatments on Monday, that I could share my good fortune. And that is as far as I get before the cat starts to howl and I rush to cradle him in my arms, and we both drift peacefully back to sleep.



About Smallpeace

Michele Karas is a poet, essayist, and longstanding professional copywriter, who currently works for a top-five US book publisher. Her poems and prose have appeared in literary journals, including Tinderbox, THRUSH, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Narrative magazine, among others. Michele holds a BA in Journalism from San Diego State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from CUNY, The City College of New York. Find her on Twitter @small_peace.
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6 Responses to Unraveling After Hours

  1. Anonymous says:

    Michele, I just shared with your Mom in our phone chat last night, how much I enjoyed your Smallpeace sharings! You write so beautifully, so thank you for your
    thoughts on this sunny So Cal Sunday morning! Thanksgiving blessings to you and Ber!

    • Smallpeace says:

      Thank you for saying so. It’s been so hard to find the time to post, what with work and school and all of my other writing. But I do find it a rewarding way to share my life with friends and family.

  2. Touch2Touch says:

    Cat as seashell? Specifically, chambered nautilus?
    Wonderful to have you back.
    Color your bright hair as long as you like.
    But when you like no longer, come and read my posts on silver hair and its delights. As the General said in his speech in Babette’s Feast, In the end, everything is given.

    • Smallpeace says:

      Oh I have read your posts on silver hair, and I take them as inspiration. If I knew I’d get such a stunning color as yours, I wouldn’t have been so conflicted. I do have to admit that I was surprised at myself for NOT being ready. (Oh vanity.) But I will try this for a while, and then, when I grow weary of the salon time or the bathroom box job, it’ll be on to the next adventure.

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