The problem was, Miles figured, a matter of logistics. He couldn’t cordon off the downstairs loo forever, but to let it be used by any manner of guests without explaining things would result in far too much trouble. Anything the six o’clock news would be called for was too much trouble, in Miles’ opinion, and when it came to his downstairs loo, Miles’ opinion was really the only thing that counted.
“You see,” he told the cat, “somehow, the water of the Lethe comes out the taps. Wash your hands after a visit, and you feel a little forgetful for the day. Brush your teeth, and you might well lose the morning. Have a glass of water in the middle of the night, and you’re like to forget the past month — and a shower? Forget a shower; you would–” and then suddenly he was laughing delightedly, shaking his head. “Forget a shower,” he told the cat gesturing with a finger and shaking his head with a self-satisfied amusement. “Do you see what I did there?” he asked the tabby.
It watched him with the intent stare that only a feline can muster, as though it were paying attention quite singular attention to his words. As though it were saying, “I did, in fact, see what you did there.”
He chuckled, sighing, and picked up the cat, petting its head. “What for breakfast then, hmm?” he asked it, padding into the kitchen. It was easy to get himself a decent breakfast of leftover biscuits, with a little butter and honey, and a slice or two of bacon. After a bit of thought, he added a bowl of tinned peaches and a splash of cream. While the bacon sizzled, he put everything else together, and reminded himself that he would need to pick up more peaches and cream soon. “I go through it faster than I know, don’t I?” he asked the cat, chuckling.
The cat received a dish of cold water from the kitchen sink, some cream, and even a bit of bacon as well, and when it was done, it laid on the table in a slash of sunlight, licking its paws with no small amount of contented delight.
“You’re getting a bit round, aren’t you?” he asked the kitten, rubbing its belly as it lay there in the sunlight. “Ah, perhaps I am, too,” he said, looking at his own stomach and smiling happily.
He did the washing up, humming to himself, and when he turned off the water, he wandered over to where the cat laid in the sun on the table. He reached down to pet its fur, but the cat was long since stiff, cold, and covered in a layer of dust.
Miles sat down in bewilderment, and dust puffed up around him from the cushion of the kitchen chair. Motes of it danced in the sunlight. A spiderweb hung from his glasses. He brushed it away with a dawning realization. He looked toward the bathroom door, and toward the kitchen sink, and his shoulders slumped as he turned his face toward the cat, his lower lip trembling. He petted it anyway, tears rolling down the dust on his cheeks, and shook his head.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, his voice dry from disuse. “It wasn’t the bathroom at all, was it? It was the kitchen.”