Monique was morbidly obese. Every day she wore a different moo-moo because, well. . . that was all that could be worn.
She lived just next door to me, on the left as I walked out of my own door. She seemed to live just outside her door, like the "neighborhood gossip," just watching everything that went on.
It was amazing, really. Anyone could just pull up a chair (and many did) just outside their door and watch. There was rarely a chance to be bored. Remembering back, it feels like it must never have rained or snowed. It did indeed, and I remember each one of those days. It was like the whole day was closed for business.
Many times I would open my door and stand on the threshold, watching the broken gutter dump buckets of rain right on my door step. I would just stand there for the longest time, disheartened, but mesmerized at the same time.
Monique must have felt the same, because every time I stepped outside on a dry day, she would be sitting there on her chair, watching the small world go by, and exercising her voice loudly, quite often.
Many days, there was an unspoken competition of sound, the clash of music competing for the right to be heard. It would be warm and beautiful outside, and everybody's doors would be open, letting any wayward cool breeze find its way in.
Monique, around 45, with her light blonde, straight, long hair, would play her music at a reasonable volume. Then Gary would turn his louder, then Chef Steve, then Jared.
And the end result: no one could hear their own music, but they all wanted theirs to be heard. It was a huge clash of multi-genred noise.
Monique and Cats.
Monique loved her garden plot, but I never saw her in it. She would always mention how much she hated cats, because they would get into her garden. But only one of the neighbors had a cat, and her garden only had a few flowers. Nothing entirely worth writing home about.
When Daniel moved in, he had a cat. I didn't really want a cat, but I realized that this pet came with the man, and accepted the black cat: Dimitri.
Dimitri was old, and Monique didn't seem to even notice he existed. But one day it was my birthday, and our friend Mikey and his girlfriend both came over–my birthday was just a coincidence.
She'd had a job that day, which took her to a farm in the city's outskirts. There, she had found the tiniest little tabby kitten I had ever seen. She asked the farmer if it was his, and he seemed appalled by the fact that it was even brought to his attention. Knowing that the little runt would probably die in the wild, she brought it home.
She asked if I would take her, and I was happy to. I named her Lotus. But, Daniel had just bought me a black and white kitten for my birthday, which I named Guido.
So, we now had three cats, two of them kittens. Guido was spunky and a little skittish, and Lotus was sweet, quiet, and loved to cuddle.
I loved little Lotus. Every evening, while Daniel finished up work, she would cuddle up at the back of my neck, while I read a book, or watched TV. I loved it.
Once I saw her up on the kitchen counter, but as she was so tiny, it blew my mind that she could jump that high. Then I remembered Zeela's little kittens that were always escaping.
One evening, Lotus never came to cuddle up on my neck. I thought it was weird, so I looked around a little and never saw her. I returned to watching a show, before it was time to go pick Daniel up from work.
I didn't have to. It was an easy walk. But, it was late at night, and I thought he'd appreciate the ride.
When we got home, he asked where the kitties were, and I explained how I hadn't seen Lotus.
We looked around, opened the door, called to her, and that is when Monique, sitting next door, informed me that I ran over her when I left. Apparently, she had escaped through the kitchen window. I behaved calmly and stoically. I grabbed a towel and picked her up, bringing her inside. Then, I broke down.
"How could I do such a thing?" I asked. I cried rather hysterically, for awhile, then I dried my eyes, we put her in a tin box, and we buried her out back, with a few words.
A few days passed and I began to eye Monique, suspiciously. I started to wonder if I had really run over my kitten, or had Monique hit her with a shovel.
Come to think of it, she had threatened to do just that to any cat she found in her garden, just days prior.
I began to loathe Monique.
And this is where my name began.