Team Netflix

“Life is so much brighter when we focus on what truly matters…” – Someone with Netflix probably.

Something truly life-changing happened to me this week… I got Netflix.

I’d been thinking about getting it for a while now, and after a recent work meeting with some people from Netflix HQ, I had to shamefully admit I still didn’t have it.

After offering to walk myself out, they presented me with a gift card for six months FREE Netflix. Yes, God had shone his bright light down on me.

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The best part? Netflix is everything I imagined it would be and then some more…

1. I finally have an excuse to never leave the house ever again. This is the moment I’ve been waiting all my life for! Unless you can guarantee me that Jake Gyllenhaal is going to be gift wrapped and waiting for me at my destination, don’t even ask me to go outside. Can you guarantee that? Probably not.

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2. Dad interrupted my Netflix viewing to give me a riddle. I tried really hard to pretend I cared, even though I didn’t. When I didn’t work it out, he kept repeating it, and when I still didn’t work it out, he told me he was “disappointed”. I’m a disappointment to my parents and I don’t even care! I have Netflix now, that’s all the approval I need.

3. Speaking of interruptions, if you try talking to me while I’m watching Netflix, I will just pretend I can’t hear you and carry on with my viewing. In fact, I have probably already done this. Same goes for answering my phone. Don’t expect me to evacuate for a fire drill either – it had better be the real deal. I didn’t evacuate for fire drills without Netflix, do you really think I’m going to now that I have it?!

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4. Did I mention how overrated going out is? It’s something I’ve known for years, but people finally seem to be catching on. I’m a trailblazer like that… Going out is the worst, especially in winter. By the time you shower, pull on 20 layers of clothes, arrange your hair into something that doesn’t resemble a bird’s nest and apply makeup, you’re exhausted. And for what? A mediocre night out and a photo you can upload to Instagram. I’ve even put an extra blanket on my bed, so now I don’t even need to get out from under the covers. Just give me my laptop and some water, and I’m set for life.

5. I’ve been watching Fuller House (the Full House reboot), and it’s bad, guys. Really, really bad. I’ll sometimes catch a glimpse of my reflection in my computer screen, reflexively rolling my eyes, and I don’t even care. I’ll still watch it. I’ll watch anything on Netflix. Also, the nostalgia factor is high with this show.

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6. No, this is not a paid plug for Netflix, but if they do decide to send some money my way, I wouldn’t send it back or anything… I have no time for work now that I have Netflix. I haven’t even started on season four of Orange Is the New Black yet!

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7. I just watched The Fundamentals of Caring, and I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure I would, because the film stars Selena Gomez – who used to date Justin Bieber – so we all know she has questionable judgment. But Paul Rudd is a dream.

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8. I’m all for “Netflix and chill”. But I like to call it “Netflix and chilled Kit Kats”. Yum.

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So I guess this blog post is really just my way of saying goodbye. Years from now, when you wonder what happened to me… Netflix. That’s what happened to me.

Seven Signs of the Apocalypse

The world has gone mad. Like, run-around-with-a-tin-foil-hat-on mad. It’s hard to pin-point exactly when it all started going wrong, but I have a feeling it happened sometime around the Kardashians… Yep, we now live in a world that not only celebrates stupidity, it rewards it. Well done, guys – this is the moment evolution was leading up to.

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Okay, then. Good talk.

Up until recently, you could mostly turn a blind eye to the stupidity. You know, ignore it and hopefully it will go away. But lately… Well, let’s just say things are escalating quickly, and I really think the end could be near…

1. Brexit

Here’s a recap: The UK voted to leave the European Union, the British currency crashed, David Cameron resigned as British Prime Minister, fire, panic, disaster… And now we’re staring down the barrel of a gun where isolated English farmers might actually have to marry their sheep due to a lack of migration, kids have become slaves to an ageing population, and this guy might actually become Britain’s next PM…

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Britain, meet your new leader…

If Boris Johnson is elected British PM, I’m nominating myself as Queen of Bullshit.

2. ASOS Crashed

Worst of all, while everything was going down with Brexit, ASOS crashed. For a day and a half, people! Goddammit – I need sweatshop-made, mass-produced T-shirts! We all do! Do you have any idea how terrifying that was for me?!

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3. Donald Trump

At first I thought Trump’s run for President was just a joke I didn’t get, so I sat patiently with a bemused smile plastered on my face, waiting for the punchline. But the punchline never came, and with every day that passes, this overgrown Oompa Loompa seems to get one step closer to the top job. Now I’m just like, “Oh, shit. This is really happening.”

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Trump: Making America Hate Again.

4. Gun Control

After the biggest mass shooting in US history – with a legally obtained semi-automatic weapon nonetheless – Congress rejected yet another bill for gun control. Because clearly the only logical solution to America’s gun crisis is more guns. Duh.

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Even Mickey Mouse is packing heat.

5. Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift

I’m still not entirely convinced Taylor Swift isn’t a Satanic high priestess, so imagine what horrors she’ll unleash after she sees herself naked in bed with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian in his new music video. You’ve doomed us all, Kanye. I always knew you would.

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This will go down a treat…

6. The Scientology Studio

The Church of Scientology just launched their $50 million Hollywood studio with a goal of recruiting more followers for their cult through mass media. I’ve always believed you’d have to be a bit of a crackpot to believe you’re descended from an alien called Xenu or whatever. I mean, Tom Cruise is their poster boy – c’mon! But with everything going on in the world at the moment, I’m starting to think this recruitment studio idea might actually work…

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Creepy, creepy little man.

7. Bees Are Dying

Sure, it could have something to do with the ecosystem dying (another win for humanity), but I have a sneaking suspicion the bees know what’s coming and have decided to check out early.

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Us: “Stay! It’ll be fun!” Bees: “LOL. No.”

So, there you have it. The world is ending. There’s nothing left to do now but sit back, eat chocolate, and watch Netflix and chill, waiting for Xenu and his spaceship to come save our souls. Soon, my friends. Soon…

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Dear God, make it quick…

Taylor Made Me Do It

Earlier this week, completely natural photos came out of Taylor Swift smooching on Tom Hiddleston. It was just two weeks ago that Taylor had reportedly been left devastated by her split with Calvin Harris. If you didn’t know better, you’d think Taylor had been cheating on Calvin staged the photos to help set up her latest showmance…

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Right. I’m sure the paparazzi just happened to be scoping out some isolated beach when Tom and Taylor stopped by…

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Taylor Swift. On one hand, I think her most recent album, 1989 is a treasure, and I will shamelessly admit I went to her Sydney concert late last year (and enjoyed it). I even interviewed her back when she was first starting out, and she was entirely lovely. But I don’t buy her cookie-baking-girl-next-door-unlucky-in-love image for a minute. I think she is incredibly savvy and calculating in everything that she does, and to believe otherwise is just naïve.

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A feast for the ears.

Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being ambitious – I’m guessing Taylor wouldn’t be one of the biggest stars in the world today if she wasn’t – but her reluctance to admit this is what annoys me. Taylor treats the public – and her fans – like they’re stupid, and more and more people are starting to catch on to the fact that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to Taylor Swift than cats and apple picking in New York.

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Aww… I just don’t buy it.

It was interesting to see that most of the comments surrounding Taylor’s newfound romance with Tom called their relationship a “showmance”. People are sceptical, and they have every reason to be.

This isn’t the first time Taylor has staged a romantic relationship for publicity. As an occasional tabloid journalist, I know for a fact Taylor has been doing this for years. Taylor Lautner, Jake Gyllenhaal, Harry Styles… The list of Taylor’s (fake) boyfriends is a long and varied one. There’s even a formula to all of her fauxmances.

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Harry looks oh-so happy to be there…

A few crisp paparazzi photos will leak of Taylor and her man of the moment looking loved up, no doubt after her team comes to an arrangement with some photographer. Taylor and her man will remain cryptic about the status of their relationship, but the photos will speak for themselves… A few more sightings/cryptic social media posts, and then Taylor and [insert name here] will break up. It’s always his fault, and Taylor is the heartbroken every-girl. Each “relationship” spans two-four months. Taylor gets a new album full of songs declaring how she was betrayed by yet another player, because it’s hard for a girl. He gets to maintain his image as a “ladies man”. Both get publicity.

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So natural.

But when Taylor started dating Calvin (for real), I actually believed she’d finally given up on her attention-seeking, fame-whoring ways. Yes! Finally! Then they broke up, and less than two weeks later, Taylor was back to playing the game…

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REAL.

The most frustrating thing about all of this is that Taylor appears to be a protected species. No one is willing to call her out on her bullshit. It may be the one thing I actually agree with Kim Kardashian on. That girl is like a unicorn. She’s untouchable. It doesn’t help that she’s surrounded herself with a “girl squad” – a group of beautiful, powerful girls-of-the-moment – who would probably lay down their own lives for their queen (and I’m not talking about the Queen of England). It’s like a cult. (I’m not even kidding – at her concert, Taylor had a video montage of her friends chanting, “Squad! Squad! Squad!” It was creepy and weird.)

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It’s WAR.

Well, I’ve had enough! If no one else is prepared to take on Taylor Swift, I will. I’m going to assemble a “girl squad” of my very own – the difference is that these girls have no idea I exist and probably wouldn’t want to be on my squad even if they did.

You can keep Gigi Hadid and Karlie Kloss, Taylor… This is my (entirely imaginary) cult, I mean, squad:

Alexa Chung

I’m not entirely sure what Alexa actually does – it seems to be a bit of this, a bit of that, but she’s the ultimate cool girl and has been for some time. Also, I’d love to raid Alexa’s wardrobe. Even though absolutely nothing would fit me.

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Rashida Jones

Super smart and just a little bit quirky. Plus, she’s also a writer, so, you know, there’s that… Yep, this girl does it all.

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Kirsten Dunst

If her nickname (Kirsten Drunkst) is anything to go by, Kirsten knows how to have a good time. No cookie baking here.

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Erin Foster

Okay, so there’s a chance you’ve never heard of Erin Foster, which sucks for you, because she is easily one of the funniest writers in Hollywood right now. Although she is Gigi Hadid’s former stepsister, which could get a little awkward…

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Mindy Kaling

Another hilarious writer and actress (are you sensing a trend here…). She also happens to be a New York Times best selling author, so there’s that, too… I’d even go so far as to call her a new Hollywood power player. In your face, Taylor!

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Sofia Coppola

There aren’t many successful female writers and directors in Hollywood – Sofia is one of the few. Also, her dad, Francis Ford Coppola and I share a birthday, so surely that would be a talking point.

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Elizabeth Olsen

I met her older sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen once. All I really remember was the cloud of cigarette smoke that followed them everywhere (seriously, those two are the Patty and Selma to Elizabeth’s Marge), but Elizabeth seems cool. Also, she used to date Tom Hiddleston, so I’m pretty sure she’d be onboard.

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Alicia Vikander

She has an Oscar, people! Does anyone in Taylor’s squad have an Oscar? No. No, they do not.

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Claire Danes

If for no other reason than her excellent cry face… Also, Claire was HUGE in the ’90s, and she’s managed to maintain longevity. Something I kinda doubt Taylor’s squad members Haim have. If you’re asking, “Who?” EXACTLY.

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Emma Watson

Hello?! Hermione?! Who wouldn’t want Hermione in their squad! Also, she’s whip smart and has been working with the United Nations to promote women’s rights.

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Natalie Portman

Another super smart girl… I read somewhere that Natalie has a degree from Harvard and speaks about five languages. That’s good enough for me. Also, Rashida Jones was her maid of honour, so they’re kind of a package deal…

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So, there you have it – my dream girl squad. Or as I like to call them: People I Would Definitely Try to Be Friends With If I Was Just a Little Bit Famous.

I’m sure somewhere in America right now, Taylor Swift is freaking out…

What It Feels Like For a Girl…

By now, you’ve probably heard about the Stanford rape case. Long story short, a young woman went to a university party with her little sister, had too much to drink and blacked out. It happens. But things took a dark turn when a predatory jock decided he’d take advantage of the situation, raping this unconscious girl behind a dumpster.

It wasn’t just his actions which shocked the world, it was the way it was handled in the aftermath, too. The jock, Brock Turner is yet to admit any wrongdoing, claiming alcohol is the real perpetrator here. His father even wrote a letter about how his son – an apparently otherwise upstanding young man – shouldn’t be punished for “20 minutes of action”. And a lenient judge only sentenced Brock to six months in prison – which has now been lowered to just three months – instead of the maximum 14-year sentence such a crime carries.

The effects of this crime – and its aftermath – has had a devastating, life-altering effect on the victim, who addressed her rapist with an emotionally charged letter explaining her horrific experience in graphic detail (something everybody needs to read).

Throughout all of this, the victim has chosen to remain anonymous, claiming she is every woman.

“Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone [to that party], then this never would’ve happened,” she writes in her letter. “But then I realised, it would have happened, just to somebody else.”

Her raw honesty affected me in ways I could never have imagined, and her poignant words left me thinking about what it really means to be a woman.

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Taylor Swift and her “girl squad” – safety in numbers.

As a woman, I…

Often walk down the street, constantly looking over my shoulder, just in case someone is creeping up behind me.

Never allowed myself to have a few too many drinks – the fear that someone like Brock could use it as an opportunity to take advantage of me.

Once had a random man lick my arm in a nightclub as I walked across the dance floor, making my way to the bathroom.

Have been taught to never accept drinks from somebody else, just in case they’ve spiked it, and always watch carefully as my drink is being poured.

Learned in my early 20’s to never sit in the front seat of a cab, after a taxi driver once spent a 15-minute journey looking me up and down while making suggestive comments.

Have accepted there are certain places in the world I should never travel to simply because I am a woman.

Have been “rated” by men.

Have walked to my car gripping my keys between my knuckles, just in case someone tried to attack me and I needed to throw a punch.

Have had to tell men I have a boyfriend, just so they would leave me alone, and when that didn’t work, have told them I was a lesbian, which they would sometimes consider “a turn on”. (Yes, there are some men who are turned on by the idea of a woman not being attracted to them.)

Have felt afraid for my female friends and family.

Once had an old man on the street in New York City lick his lips and make a comment about my legs after I walked past him in a pair of shorts. (Imagine wearing shorts! In summer! The audacity!)

Have quickened my pace when walking past a group of rowdy men.

Have had men drunkenly slap my ass in nightclubs, before simply laughing it off and walking away.

Have driven around for what’s felt like hours, looking for a car spot on a well-lit main street so I wouldn’t have to navigate the deserted backstreets on my own.

Have been out with my very underage cousin when a grown man in his late 30’s made suggestive comments to her while we waited to cross the street. (Apparently it wasn’t a one-time thing either…)

Once had a man grab my wrist while I was swimming at a beach in Greece, and refuse to let go of me until I gave him my (fake) phone number.

Have watched on with disgust as men spoke to my busty friend’s boobs instead of to her face.

Have gotten into my car late at night, locked my doors and then breathed a sigh of relief that nobody attacked me on the walk.

Along with my female colleagues, have been asked to wear a bikini for a photo shoot. (We refused.)

Have asked friends to walk with me back to my car late at night, and in return, have dropped them off at theirs.

Have been called a “cock tease” for resisting a man’s advances.

Have been ignored after politely asking a man to back off, causing me to become much more forceful.

Have had to intervene when a friend has received relentless unwanted attention.

Have had to quickly and quietly slink away when a man has made me feel unsafe and uncomfortable.

Have had to put a cardigan on over my white T-shirt on a 40C day in Dubai when the male security officers at the airport wouldn’t stop staring at my boobs.

Have come to learn time and time again that many men consider a group of girlfriends dancing together in a bar an open invitation to grope them and grind against them.

Have had men stare at me to the point where I’ve felt uncomfortable.

Have had to listen as my friends recount their near-misses.

Have had to learn to shut myself off.

Often feel genuinely afraid.

While none of these things compare to being raped behind a dumpster, they are my experiences, and likely, the experiences of many women. These are just a few of the things we – as women – have to worry about and endure on a daily basis.

Men probably don’t realise how afraid women are all of the time. We are afraid for ourselves and afraid for each other. And as this Stanford rape case has proven, we have every reason to be afraid.

In America, one in four girls will be sexually assaulted before she turns 18.

When I was about 13, my uncle taught me some basic self-defence moves “just in case”. This was probably the first time I ever realised just how vulnerable I am simply because I’m female.

There are so many things you have to be aware of as a woman. Things that most men would never even dream about…

Men often wonder why women seem to travel in packs. I can tell you why – it’s for safety. The simple truth is we feel more secure and confident when our sisters are surrounding us. It’s the same reason I’ve sometimes invited lone women who I didn’t know to accompany me down a quiet street, and why my friend, Marta, says she often keeps a watchful eye on lone women from her inner city apartment.

“The other night, I saw this man stalking this girl in the street. I called out to him from my window and told him I was watching him,” Marta recently told me. “He stopped, pretended to look at his phone for a bit and then casually took off in the opposite direction.”

I know not all men are “bad” – in fact, the majority (unlike Brock) are upstanding citizens, like the two Swedish students who intervened in the Stanford rape. But all it takes is one. One person can destroy a life.

This isn’t just a “women’s issue”. We all need to make an effort to make women feel safe and then do our best to keep them safe, too. We have to do better, and we have to be better. After all, these are our mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, girlfriends, nieces and friends.

Cat’s Out of the Bag

There was a time, not so long ago, when I was the go-to girl for housesitting whenever my aunt Fiona, uncle Conn and cousins, Peta and Sini went on holidays. (They haven’t asked me back in a couple of years though, but I’ll try not to overanalyse this…)

Whenever they went away, I’d pack my bags and move in. For the most part, it was fine, but the longer they went away… Well, let’s just say shit got real. One week, great. Two weeks, good. Three weeks, still fine. Four weeks, the house is burning down. Danger, danger!

I’m not even kidding. They went to South Africa for five weeks and by week four, the car had been broken into, a laptop had been stolen, my uncle’s tropical aquarium was leaking, the dog was bleeding and their back-to-base alarm kept going off in the middle of the night. (I was a young woman alone in a big, dark house – every episode I’d ever seen of Criminal Minds started racing through my mind… I would not be a victim!)

But by far, the worst was when I came home one night at 10pm to find a dead cat splayed in their backyard. After frantically ordering their dog, Keiko into the house, I locked the door and shut the curtains. You know, just in case the cat resurrected itself and tried to break in.

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This is not the cat. Just a cute kitten I found on the internet.

After pacing the kitchen for five minutes while repeatedly mumbling, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” I decided there was only one thing to do – call someone to come and take care of it.

I briefly considered calling my friend, Steve, but I knew he wouldn’t be able to handle it. He’d been over when Keiko ran out of the bushes with a dead mouse in her mouth, dropping it right beside my thongs at the edge of the pool.

To be fair, Steve handled it better than I did. I remained in the deep end of the pool, screaming, “I’m going to be sick!” and ordering him to get rid of it immediately.

After panicking and running a few laps around the backyard, Steve found a spade and scooped up the dead mouse. He then started heaving and dry retching, while waving the spade (still with the dead mouse on it) over the pool I was still in.

I started screaming some more and Steve ran around the corner, disposing of the mouse in the bin.

I then yelled at him for not putting it in a bag first, and Steve yelled back, telling me, “There wasn’t any time!”

Yep, the neighbours must’ve loved me…

A dead cat was definitely not a job for Steve. There was only one person I could think of who would be able to handle a dead cat – Dad.

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Also not the cat.

So at 10.15pm, I picked up the phone and hysterically called home. Mum answered and was so bemused, she put me on speaker so that she and my sister could laugh at me simultaneously.

“Are you sure it’s a cat?” Mum asked through fits of giggles.

“Or a tiger,” I replied. “I don’t know. It’s pretty big.”

I felt like they weren’t taking the gravity of this situation seriously, and after yelling at them some more, I demanded to talk to Dad.

“He’s asleep,” Mum informed me. “He’s not going to come.”

“Put him on the phone!” I demanded through gritted teeth. “This is an emergency!”

More laughter. I hung up. Then I angrily called back 10 seconds later, because – let’s face it – I had a very short list of options. This time, Dad got on the phone.

“What is it, Demeter?! I was asleep! Do you know what time it is? I’m not coming over to bury a cat! Leave it until tomorrow!” he growled.

“How dare you!” I told him. “I never ask you for anything, and the one time I need you, you can’t do me one favour!”

We went on like this for a couple of minutes until I angrily hung up on him. I resumed pacing the house, while Keiko sat and stared at me like I was a crazy person. (Which – given the circumstances – was probably a fair assessment.)

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Still no.

At 11pm, the doorbell rang. It was Dad. He looked half asleep and the back of his hair was flattened from lying in bed. I hadn’t even opened the screen door when he launched into a lecture – it was clear he’d been rehearsing what he would say to me on the drive over.

“Demeter, I just want you to know that this is not my problem! This is Conn’s problem! And since you agreed to housesit for him, this is your problem!” he growled.

“Okay. Thanks, Dad,” I meekly replied.

By this stage, it had started to rain. Dad went into the backyard, found a shovel and began digging a grave.

“Not there!” I shouted from the safety of the window inside. “Keiko will dig it up!”

“Well, where do you want me to put it then?!” Dad yelled back.

“You’ll have to bury it in the front yard!” I instructed him.

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Another cat from the internet.

It was getting close to midnight and the rain was getting heavier. Dad had moved to the front yard and proceeded to dig. Cars slowed down to investigate. I’m surprised nobody called the police…

“They’ve got a bloody irrigation system!” Dad yelled, after attempting to dig no less than three holes in the front yard. “That’s it. Get me a bag. I’m putting it in the bin.”

“You can’t!” I shouted. “The rubbish doesn’t go out for another week! It will stink! Can’t you just take it home and bury it?!”

“Demeter, I’m not driving home with a dead cat in my car!” he yelled. “I’m just going to toss it over the fence into the neighbour’s yard. They can deal with it.”

Dad! You can’t do that!” I told him.

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Even these kittens are judging us.

Running out of options, we devised a plan to bury the cat in the backyard, hiding it under an obstacle course of heavy buckets of water and discarded tricycles so the dog wouldn’t be able to dig it up.

Having finished the job, Dad finally came into the house looking traumatised, a worrying twitch at the corner of his mouth. He went and washed his hands, then silently went and sat on the couch and turned on the TV, still twitching.

“Dad,” I asked. Silence…

“Dad,” I repeated, giving his shoulder a poke. “Do you want some ice cream?”

He solemnly nodded his head. I went and got him a big bowl of ice cream.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said, still refusing to look at me. “I just want to watch Law & Order.”

Dad finished his ice cream, Law & Order finished on TV, and then he stood and quietly left, hardly saying a word to me on the way out.

I stayed up for an extra half an hour, silently staring at the cat’s grave through the window, half expecting a paw to come reaching up out of the soil. Thankfully, it didn’t. Finally, I went to bed.

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THE PAW.

A couple of weeks later, after my aunt and uncle had returned home, my aunt Fiona called me at work. I’d previously told them about the dead cat that now lay buried in a shallow grave in their backyard…

“By any chance, was the cat grey?” asked Fiona.

“Yes,” came my reply.

“Because there’s all of these missing cat posters that have gone up around the neighbourhood,” Fiona told me. “The cat’s name was Lucy and she belonged to a family.”

“Oh, shit! Oh, shit!” I said. I felt like I was going to throw up. Poor Lucy! “We have to tell them!”

“We can’t,” Fiona said. “Let them just think the cat ran away.”

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**Not the poster.

So that’s what we did. We let that poor devastated family think their beloved cat had just run away… Unless they’re reading this, in which case, I’m very sorry you had to find out this way.