I can smell it in her fur, though I didn’t know it was death. It smelled fine, just like she’d been a bit stressed. I remember burying my face in her soft, curly-furred tummy. She’s Queenie, or Cassie, or a million other names. She’s my cat, I’m her girl; we both know this.

She liked to be inside—in the sunlight, mischievously scratching at my stack of library books when I neglected her too long for reading, walking through the middle of my craft project spread all over the floor, and posing like a sea otter when she’d nap.

I can just picture it: We’re playing hide-and-seek together. She used to whack my on my head when I was a baby. Now I’m bigger than her and gently tackler her after she’s discovered my hiding place. She pretends that she doesn’t know that I’m hiding around the corner to the pantry, though that’s always where I hide. She looks anywhere but at me, meandering closer as if she has no idea that I’m about to surprise her. She has green eyes a lot like mine, and brown fur the same color as my hair. She’s a long-furred tabby and a dear friend.

I used to take her out to the tall grass that smelled like wheat fields full of sunlight and sweetness. I loved the outdoors; I told her being outside was good for her. But she craved the indoors and safety. She’d oblige me a bit then make a move to leave the tall grasses which surrounded us, the blue sky our roof. I’d pick her up and bring her back. After about the fifth time I’d let her go and she’d dash back to the house.

She used to be plump and we’d tease her that she was a fat cat. Then she got old and skinny. She became sickly; Mom said it was time for me to let her go. She’s thirteen or so, older than me, but I’m just a little girl so it can’t be that old. She stopped eating kibble and drinking water. She wanted to go outside. She never wants to go outside.

Mom says she wants to go somewhere where she can die. Why? Why? Why would she want to leave me?

I have to let her go.

I let Dad take her to the vet. He’s the first one to have brought her home, he’s the last one to say goodbye. He’s Dad, dads always have to do the hard things. I’m not mad at him, just sad.

He goes to bury her when he returns. “Do you want to look at her?”

No. I don’t want to look at Queenie though I catch a glimpse of her raccoon-like tabby tail. I quickly look away.

She’s buried deeply in the rose garden. Two summers ago we buried our old family dog Maggie Mae nearby, under the young pine trees.

I try not to think of that. I don’t like burials.