by Noel Sloboda

The official start of the dinner party is delayed because of Costa’s tardiness. After apologies to the miffed hostess, he explains why he has arrived by himself almost fifteen minutes late. He has a dying pet at home, and his wife has remained there to tend to the animal. It’s a sweet kitty they’ve had for almost two decades, and they couldn’t stand to leave it alone−or easily decide who should forgo the party. The hostess grumbles like she has something caught in her throat, then swings her bright eyes away from him, toward a woman in a shiny red dress on the other side of the table. Costa doesn’t say anything as he considers both the upside and the downside of cats having nine lives.


Noel Sloboda, originally from Massachusetts, lives in Pennsylvania, where he teaches at Penn State York. His writing has recently appeared in Mythic Delirium, Mud Luscious, Niteblade, Tuesday Shorts, Word Riot, and Chronogram.