Julia ignored the doorbell. She needed to focus up the paint on the tabletop before the paw prints set.
When the cat had first jumped atop the table she was upcyclinging it with bright red paint, Julia had laughed. Until the bloody cat leapt off the table onto her grandmother's antique buffet then across the ancient damask settee, leaving bright red paw prints in his wake.
The doorbell pealed again.
She swathed the brush across the surface, evening out her strokes for a smooth finish.
The doorbell gave way to a rapid tattoo of fists against the front door. "Mrs. James!"
"Oh, for fucks sake." Clasping the cat to her chest, Julia set the paint brush on the lid of the can then strode down the hall.
She wrenched open the front door. "What?"
The neighbor gasped. "Are you alright? I heard screaming. You're covered in blood."
Julia looked at herself in the mirror hanging in her front hall. Splatters of red dotted her face and chest. Streaks dripped from her hands. "It's just paint."
She adjusted the weight of the cat against her midsection. He'd finally stopped cater walling.
The neighbor looked down. "I heard screams."
"I yelled at the cat when he ran across the table top." Julia moved to close the door.
The neighbor stepped into the doorway before Julia could shut her out. "But the cat -"
"He won't do it again."
"I can see that. Let me take him from you." The neighbor gently extracted the cat's still warm body from Julia's grasp.