The Watcher by Hillary Stangel

She came to us hunched over, a huddled and muted thing that would open her mouth only to produce an inaudible breath. She preferred to perch from vantage points above us – casting a protective eye as if she were a carved stone gargoyle anointed from the heavens. Grass patches were sacred sites of Zazen, hair ties were inherently evil, fire was a feeble adversary. She once battled an oven scorching with flames and her whiskers curled up in defiance for the rest of her short days.

Near her end, she sat in sunbeams, stealing warmth from the sun’s fires, golden eyes dazedly watching lazy wisps of dust settle. My silent gargoyle watched the motion surrounding her; observing saddened, withdrawn sighs and a derelict dinner table, once echoed with warmth and laughter. She sat in solitude, swiveling gazes upward to wonder into mine. By now, one eye hazed with billowing clouds of gray, nebulae of the unknown, symptoms of the gargoyle’s stone slowly absorbing her from inside.

Sometimes I see her eyes in the darkness, usually on the stairwell landing, where she used to perch protectively. I still see those golden eyes glimmering in the fraction of light’s glare, reflecting world’s harsh glow, rippling light like a crescent among stars. Like the ever-watching moon greets the dawn, balanced upon its cosmic heavens, I watch for her, awaiting to greet my protector along with the breaking day.


Hillary Stangel lives comfortably as a 21-year-old premature old cat lady. She will befriend and enjoy the company of many cats over the course of this life and the next. Her favorite author Samuel Clemens once said that “when a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”

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