Its name was Cotton and he had been a member of the Northam family for at least ten years. He had been given to a young teenager named Martha, the oldest of the Northam marriage. They were a very wealthy family from the coastline region, controlling most of the fishing industry in the part of the country. They named the cat Cotton because of the color of its fur but also because the family also owned several cotton plantations on near the ocean, which they exported with ease.
Martha had never really wanted a cat. She was not the kind of kid to like animals or anything that was alive. To be fair, she had problems at school that had resulted in her removal from the education system. She was then educated at home by private teachers who would come for at least five hours a day and try to educate her a bit. But the girl wasn’t interested, only being moved by the love of her father and his tendency to give her what she wanted whenever she wanted.
Her mother Nancy had never agreed to that behavior but Mr. Northam, as head of the family, made all the big choices around there and she couldn’t really protest any of the decisions he made. If he wanted something done at home or not, if he wanted the children to go to school or not and even what kind of food would be served at home, it was him who decided it all, even if it didn’t really affected him. Because, you see, Mr. Northam was never around in the house, too busy with his business.
Many, for a long while, had guessed he could be one of those men that has several mistresses all around and even other families but that was proven to be false when Nancy, on a very rare glimpse of attitude, had decided to follow her husband one day in order to se what he did with his time. It had been the most boring experience for him and had just sealed in her mind that nothing would ever change in that house because there was nothing unpredictable about the things happening all around.
Cotton was officially Martha’s, but the cat spend much more time in the kitchen, sitting on an old wooden stool, while the cook did her chores of the day. She was a big woman, much bigger than any in the family, and she would often give the cat bits and pieces of everything she made. Everyone always seemed to be astonished at how fat he became over the years. No one knew about where he went every day and only the old cook knew and never told a soul. After all, Cotton was a bit like a companion, even a partner in crime if you will. She never felt alone when he was there.
For Alysia, the cook, Cotton was more human than the people she made the food for. She liked the cat because he seemed to listen to what she said, even if it was ridiculous to converse with a cat. However, that all changed when Martha discovered the cat coming out of the kitchen one day, when she was about to leave the house after finally ending her high school years. Her father had agreed to pay a very expensive university far away in order for her to become a clothes designer.
Even so, she complained to her father about the cat not being with her, as he should even if she didn’t want him around, and being with the cook instead. The children had never seen the cook’s face but they had been raised to believe that was far a reason, something to do with them being better than others although with a different wording, in order not to seem heartless and insensitive. But the truth could never be masked by pretty and false phrases that meant nothing.
Mr. Northam’s response was pretty straightforward: Alysia was fired and replaced with another older woman, as big as she was. The cat stopped going to the kitchen because the new cook would always try to scare it off with a broom or something. So Cotton, once again, became an object for everyone in the house, as useless and uninteresting as a lamp or the rugs that were all over the place. No one cared about him afterward, being the gardener the one in charge of filling the cat’s bowel with food and water.
Alysia leaved in a small shed was forced to leave it once she had been fired, as all of the housing in the area was exclusive for people that worked for the Northam family. She was evicted along with her few belongings and at age seventy-six she was forced to leave the region and go to a big city in order to try to find a new job, because she didn’t have enough money saved to pay for anything. Suffice to say that working for years had not made her a candidate for a pension or even health insurance.
Cotton escaped one night and went looking for Alysia but he never found her. Not only because he arrived at the shed she used to leave with and no one was there, but because he was an already very old cat and couldn’t properly use his natural talents to find anyone. He was confused and tired, so he decided to go back to the only place where he could rest for the rest of his days. At least the small boys were now bigger and didn’t bother him and the rest of the family was too submerged in their own businesses in order to care for what a cat would do or not do.
In the city, Alysia eventually found a job knitting for a store that made baby clothes. They required her skills to be almost out of this world and she was just too tired to do it as fast as they wanted her to be. So they also fired her from that place. She would never find a job ever again and, in a very sad turn, she died in line while trying to get into the office that was supposed to help her sue the Northams for everything that they owed her for all the years of service. It wasn’t peaceful.
No one attended her funeral and she was cremated because there was no determined place to put her body. Some nice person dissipated her ashes in a park in the city, but that was it for her. She had raised a family, had endured after losing her husband and had made everything possible for her children to have better lives than hers. She failed and succeeded but all of that never mattered in her golden years, that time you are supposed to be at peace and with no worries.
As for the Northam family, they didn’t have the best of lucks either. Because of very poor business decisions, a competing company was able to outgrow them and eventually they were forced to sell to them. Everything went, even the palatial house that had been their refuge for so many years. Every employee defected fast and many other were only fired with no compensation. Some of the old sheds were demolished and everything that had been a reality for so long had been turned into dust.
As for Martha, she never returned from abroad. However, it was known by everyone that she had never paid a single semester in that fancy university, instead blowing the money in alcohol and drugs. A couple of years after her family’s bankruptcy, she was found dead because of an overdose. It was the final nail in the coffin for her family, a very big coffin with a very large amount of nails. Her parents divorced and her brothers never spoke to any of them again, separating forever.
Cotton was a witness in all of this. However, the cat was very old and tired when it all happened. However, the gardener decided to keep him when things were being sold. After all that time, he had also developed a fondness for the furry creature.
The cat died only a year after that, not being able to fully enjoyed proper love in a much better, although smaller, house. Some called the whole thing a curse but there are no such things. It’s more the phrase that grandmothers say: “You reap what you sow”.