A doorstep in fact. In a village in Crete, which is where Maria sits and waits in The Cretan Cat, Yvonne Payne’s story in Cat Tales, the anthology drawn from last year’s Book a Break short story competition.
With the doorframe as a backrest, Maria treated herself to a rare doze on her doorstep. Behind closed eyelids, she squinted against sunbeams probing through trees to dance mosaic patterns on her face. Lemon blossom scented the breeze before it tickled the light down of her cheek. By concentrating on her slowed breathing, everyday sounds of Cretan village life diminished to a distant hubbub.
That’s in November 1940. It’s a sad story, because a year later nothing is the same for Maria except for the doorstep and the cat that keeps her company. A war story. Not like the ones Sam watches on television, full of bombs and machine guns, just with the village square, Maria and the cat. The fighting is distant, but the losses are real, and our hearts go out to Maria, who loses so much. It’s told with restraint, in a style that captures the village atmosphere perfectly. It’s a story you’ll want to read two or three times and it’s one that will stay with you.
War is a mystery to me. I understand spats and squabbles and fights and feuds because I’ve had plenty myself. Cats are no strangers to blood. But you’ve never seen cats invent all sorts of vicious weapons, get together in a group and march off to kill other cats. What is it with you humans? I can only suppose that you love it, because you make sure it never stops. All the women in Syria today, bearing their loss like Maria in Crete back then – is it something you’re proud of? Weird.
Yvonne knows the setting for her story well. She’s lived in Kritsa, a village in Crete, since 2001. There she became entranced by the true story of a local girl who escaped kidnap to fight as a rebel against the ruling Turks in 1823, an interest that evolved into a beautifully written first novel, Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa. You can read more about her passion for Crete visit her website, www.kritsayvonne.com.
The proceeds from Cat Tales go to two charities, Cats Protection and the Against Malaria Foundation. So please don’t hesitate to spread the word and help us reach that target. And of course, if you click on the button yourself, you can read Yvonne’s story yourself and sit on that doorstep with a Cretan cat and Maria.
In a special promotion deal, the price of Cat Tales is just $1.99 for the whole month of April. Available as a PDF (or epub / mobi) complete with colour illustrations directly from this site* by clicking the button below. Also available in print (black & white, $9.50).
*Buying from this site results in $1.61 after the PayPal commission, as opposed to just $0.70 when buying from Amazon. An insecticide treated mosquito net, which protects on average 2 people for 3 to 4 years, costs $2.50. PLUS, if you buy from this site, you’ll get a personal message of thanks from Curtis along with a short story of his own (in which Nibbles the cat, I’m sorry to say, comes to a rather unfortunate end).