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Chloe

    I rushed home from work that Thursday because I knew what awaited me there, and I didn't want Trudy to face it alone. I thought I saw her car in our parking spot as I reached the stairs heading up to our third floor apartment, but when I get into the apartment itself I didn't find Trudy either in the living room or out on the balcony. I thought for a second that maybe she wasn't home from the clinic yet. Maybe another white compact car was in our parking space, and I mistook their car for ours. Then,
    "Dan?"
    This came from her bedroom. Trudy was home, after all. We met in the hallway and embraced. We hugged each other hard, like we were lost at sea and hanging onto each other for dear life. Trudy's eyes were red and swollen. She'd been crying.
    "I went to the animal clinic over there on the corner of 60th and 15th," Trudy said. "They were wonderful, so caring and kind. When it was over, they let me out the back door so I wouldn't have to go past the people in the lobby."
    "We've lost our best friend," was all I could think of to say.
    We sat on the balcony for awhile. It was the middle of summer, so it was warm out, but the skies were gray and the air was thick with moisture. A rain storm, maybe even a thunder and lightning storm, seemed likely.
    "One thing you could do for me," Trudy said. "Get rid of that cat box." It sat to our right on the balcony. It'd reached the point with Chloe where she could no longer find her way to her box where we usually kept it, in my bedroom in the closet. She'd peed twice right there on the balcony. I ate potato chips to kill my post-work hunger pangs and drank a Diet Coke. You know on those TV commercials the animal shelters do where the cats and dogs are looking so needy and stricken and adorable? In my mind, I pictured Chloe with that look on her face, and that's when I started crying.  

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