"But I want to go put my feet on him," said Aidan as I reined him back in.
"Too bad," I said. "He's working."
Aidan put his head on his paws sadly. I went back to my melancholy thoughts. Rex hadn't come near me in days. He wouldn't sit on my lap or take naps with me or anything. He didn't even greet me at the door when I came home any longer. He was right about Aidan always being around. When I sat down at the computer, there was Aidan. When I went into the kitchen to make dinner, there was Aidan. When I got home work, there was Aidan, twirling with joy to see me. And always, hiding just around a corner, was Rex. I could tell by the expression on his face that he was keeping tally of all the ways that he thought the dog was usurping his position as my special boy. He started giving me the cold shoulder and refused to be in the same room as Aidan. The only way I could even sort of tell that he still loved me was that at night he would sneak up next to my bed and meow softly, waking me up.
"What is it?" I'd ask, blearily. "Come up here with me." I'd pat my belly encouragingly. Rex stretched himself up to peer over the mound created by my body and the blankets, fixing his gaze on Aidan curled up between me and Davey, snoring and grunting and gurgling as he slumbered.
"No thanks," he'd decline, and drop quietly back to all fours, quietly disappearing into the shadows on the floor. I'd wilt a little at the rejection and wait for sleep to return. Sometimes in the morning, I'd wake up to discover Rex had spent the rest of the night in the closet, presumably keeping an eye on me as I dreamed my macabre dreams. I always discovered him when I opened my closet to get a sweater. He'd come creeping out, trying to act casual although I could tell by his demeanor that he had not intended for me to find him watching me from the closet in this way.
"Hi, honey," I would say, hoping for a greeting in return.
"Just give me my breakfast," he'd order, walking into the bathroom to stand by his food dish.
Sighing, I would comply.
Davey came past again on his way to load something into the truck. Aidan strained against the leash, trying to reach him. Davey glanced over at me. He'd spent the past 20 minutes of my depressed mooning about my cat trying to convince me to tell him what was wrong every time he walked by, but I suspected that talking about it might make me cry and I was not about to do that in public if I could help it so I was refusing to tell him. He walked over and bent over me, sticking his face right up in mine.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
I shrugged. Aidan tried to clamber up his bent legs.
"Hi, Aidan!" Davey cooed. "I missed you, buddy! I missed you when I was inside!"
"I missed you too!" crowed Aidan, thrilled that they had been thinking the same thing.
I looked down at the grass. I missed Rex. Every day that went by without him coming near me was digging a jagged hole deeper and deeper into my chest. Davey caught my expression, and put his hand on my knee.
"You miss Rex, huh?" he asked.
I nodded, my eyes beginning to sting. I blinked to try to keep them from watering and giving away the depths of my sorrow.
"We'll take Aidan to my Mom's for the night and let you spend the rest of the day with Rex, okay?" he said.
I nodded again, pouting like a little baby.
"What... what if he doesn't want to hang out with me?" I asked, sniffling.
"Of course he does," said Davey.
"Okay," I said, still harboring doubts.
"There's no reason to think he won't. He loves you. He thinks you're his Mom. He's not going to just stop wanting to be around you," said Davey, standing up to continue loading up the truck.
I stayed on the lawn with Aidan, willing my eyes to dry themselves and thinking about what Davey had said. Maybe he was right, but I had my doubts.