The Unfinished Symphony

Image: Black and splotchy blue cat. Text: That's the story of how I came to be this colour.

The Unfinished Symphony

Short Story by Iris Carden

For a human, Franz is usually quite nice, I guess.  He spends a lot of time at his desk, or going between the desk and the piano.  He’s a composer.  He writes dots on paper to tell musicians what to play.  I understand he’s quite famous.  That doesn’t really matter to me.

He gives me milk and meat, and scratches behind my ears, and talks to me.  That’s what matters to me.

Right now, he’s writing a symphony.  I’m not quite sure what that is, but it involved a great many dots on paper.

He says it’s his symphony in B minor. The black cat down the road tells me that if humans want to be miners they go dig a hole in the ground.  I don’t see Franz doing that. He doesn’t like dirt a lot.  I know, because if I come in with muddy paws and leave dirt all over the floor, he calls me a naughty little cat.

Franz tells me he’s using an unusual time signature.  It will be tricky for his musicians to play, but it will be unique.  No-one else will write anything like it. This seems to matter to him.

I look closely at the dots he’s writing on the paper. To me they look like all the other dots he writes on paper.  

“Listen to this passage,” he says.  He plays some notes on the piano.  It sounds like music.  I don’t really care about that.

He’s been writing for days and days.  I think he’s been giving his symphony more attention than he’s been giving me.  That is something I do care about. That’s just wrong. 

I meow, to remind him a cat requires ear scratches.  He says, “Shush little cat.  If I don’t write this down I’ll forget what I’m doing with this third movement.”

I decide I am going to leap onto the desk and sit in the middle of his paper.  When I’ve done that before, he has stopped work to give me a scratch and a small snack.

This time, I miscalculate slightly.  As I land I knock over the ink pot.

Ink goes all over the paper, but that doesn’t matter.

Ink goes all over me.  That does matter.  I yowl and yowl in distress.

Franz picks me up and takes me to the water jug.  He pours water over me, but instead of washing off me, the ink just seems to spread further.  He rubs me with a towel, but the ink still just spreads further.

It seems like forever he keeps trying to clean me, but the ink just spreads and won’t come out of my hair.

And that is the story of why I am this odd colour.

It’s also the story of why Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony only has two movements, but I don’t really care about that.


By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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