“The Moments Between” • by Elis Montgomery


I’m young as the day we met; you’ve aged sixty years.

Baghdad is falling. You are falling.

As our walls crumble, I stand before your fading form, my saif drawn.

Then I notice the lucky black cat curling at your feet.


You look different, but somehow, it’s you. I find you weaving silk in Messina, buboes swelling your neck.

The cat arrives too late to kill plague rats, its coat black as your fingertips.


Couples who spend decades together grow together: my immortality has rubbed off on you. You never live—but you return.

I love you in Niani until the sandstorm, and that single slash of black against gold.


You’re an Andean weaver-hunter, but even you can’t shoot Spanish diseases. The purr lulls you away.


It should be me they burn, but they call you witch. The cat follows you to the pyre.


We’re marked by disaster. The cat comes in Kolkata, then the cyclone hits.


I hole up in Antarctica, thinking if I avoid cataclysms, you won’t come back into one.

You stumble out of the snow, the black cat on your heels. We get minutes.


The Yangtze floods, swallows Hankou. The cat howls from a rooftop as your hand slips from mine.


You’re elderly when I find you again. Tired. The world boils, sickens, heaves. Nowhere’s safe from catastrophe.

I buy cat food. Our porch fills with strays, but none are the black cat. None are a promise that you’ll return.

But then the white cat comes, marking itself on your leg, and mine, and I realize you’ve rubbed off on me.

There is no right place or time, but in a trillion stolen moments between disasters, we’ve lived. Loved.

Now the lucky white cat leads us quietly on.


Elis Montgomery is a speculative fiction writer from Vancouver, Canada. She is a member of SFWA and Codex. When she’s not writing, she’s usually hanging upside down in an aerial arts class or a murky cave. Find her there or at elismontgomery.com.



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