(Exslurpt Sundae) “The Dowager Queen’s Shakes” from The Brocken Spectres

Pooka sits on the leather chair in the parlor. She sits and listens. She waits, waits, waits, waits, waits, and then, waits some more. But, Pooka does not typically notice how much time she spends sitting, listening, and waiting. For a cat, she is an unusually patient lady. And, she hears it. For what she has been waiting and listening. Pooka hears a car door close outside. She saunters to the stairs and looks down at the front door.

It’s Meesha! Hi, Meesha! Come in, come in! Oh, that feels good. I love seeing you. I know I’m pretty, but thanks. Yes, let’s go to the kitchen. Of course, I’d love some food. Wet food? Don’t spoil me. But, sure. Thanks, Meesha. You’re the best. Honestly.

Pooka feasts on a bowl of wet cat food. She relishes the opportunity. The dry food is becoming harder and harder to eat each passing day. She is getting older and she is sick. Regardless, she is the Dowager Queen. Still. Nothing could change that. Her fur, once a coat of snowy volume, has fallen. It clings to her diminished frame. The white, if it is even possible, is blurring, fading, turning off-white. She lifts her head up from her food and glances at the Girl. She smiles at Pooka and together they are safe. The Girl is taller now, older, a young, vibrant woman. But, a girl. Still. Nothing could change that.

“Tastes good, right, Pooka?” she asks. Her voice warbles, high-pitched and curling.

Pooka loves the Girl’s lilt. When she has finished eating, the Queen retires to the parlor with her Girl. Pooka is lifted from the floor and held. The Girl, she kisses the Queen’s crown, and the Queen’s drool cascades down the Girl’s arm. It puddles in the crook of her elbow, soon dripping onto the hardwood. If the Girl notices the massive amounts of cat drool flowing over her skin, she does not acknowledge it. Pooka’s drooling habit has been a constant since the morning she arrived in her Kingdom. It is the drool of high royalty. It should be collected and used to barter. It should be utilized to heal. Rub it on the soles of your feet, cure your spirit! Work up your nerve, ignore your gag reflex, and shoot back a glass of it. Be astounded as your cataracts disappear!

It hurts, Meesha.

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