The cat came out of nowhere, jumping out of the bushes, hissing at the pit bull. “Poor Rocky,” Carol said, stroking his trembling ears. Dumped on the side of the road, battered, bruised, and left for dead. That’s how the dog rescue people found him. He was a bait dog that had outlived his usefulness. When the vet discovered rocks in his stomach, the rescue agency named him Rocky. A starving dog will eat anything. Even rocks. When he was ready for adoption, Carol applied. She’d never had a dog before. But she couldn’t resist his sad face. Pampering Rocky became her new hobby. She fed him premium dog food, dressed him in stylish sweaters, and walked him every evening after work. There was only one problem. The neighborhood cat. It loved to come out of nowhere and terrify Rocky. A timid giant, he never defended himself. His past had beaten the fight out of him. Carol could relate. She’d also escaped an abusive relationship. Therapy had healed her wounded soul. Maybe it could heal Rocky too? She decided to try. Every night before she went to sleep Carol would read empowering books to Rocky, his head resting on her shoulder. “We become what we’re attached to,” Carol read, turning the page. “You’re a survivor, Rocky. Attach yourself to courage, not fear.” Winter arrived, and Carol slipped Rocky into a warm red hoodie for their walk. On the street, the man came out of nowhere, hurrying toward Carol. “Why haven’t you answered my calls?” he demanded. Carol stepped in front of Rocky. “Our relationship ended six months ago,” she said. The man grabbed her arm, pressing his fingers into her flesh, bruising. “That’s unacceptable,” he threatened. The growl came out of nowhere. In a flash of red, Rocky moved between them. The man jumped back and ran away. Carol looked down at the leash in her hand. She was the only one trembling. “Let’s get a snack,” she said, stroking Rocky’s soft ears. “My treat.”
‘Attachments’ was first published in The Rye Whiskey Review.
Laura Stamps loves to play with words and create experimental forms for her fiction. Author of several novels and short story collections, including IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RIDE: CAT MANIA (Alien Buddha Press). Muses Prize. Pulitzer Prize nomination. 7 Pushcart Prize nominations. Mom of 4 cats. Laura’s Twitter.