In an effort to vary up the writing on this blog a bit, I’m launching what I’ve dubbed Writing Wednesdays. As the name implies, these are short writings that I’ll submit on Wednesdays (when my time commitments allow, that is). They’ll typically be short stories that will vary in nature, and I might occasionally include excerpts from my books. Anyway, on to the first one…
A male calico crouched in the bushes where he peered out at two white kittens. Brothers. They were jumping and rolling, tails swishing in their playful frolicking. The calico noted their crystal blue eyes and unmarred fur, as white as the driven snow. Their bright coats stood out in stark contrast to his dark patches, and he sneered (well, as much as a cat could sneer). Good luck blending into the grass with that fur, he thought.
In contrast, his fur consisted of beautiful patches of gold, cream, brown and black, and his eyes were a startling shade of gold. Fortunately, he possessed more black than any other color, and one entire side of his face was covered in black, giving the appearance that he was wearing a mask. As a male calico, he was a rarity of his breed. Only 1 in 3,000 calicoes were males, and he happened to be one of the chosen ones – an honor he didn’t take lightly.
He watched the kittens run up the wooden porch that led to the humans’ dwelling. One brother pounced on the other, effectively knocking the tackled brother off the porch. Clumsy. He wasn’t many months older than these kittens, and he already knew how to fend for himself.
Of course, he’d been born in the wild. Instilled in him from birth were the ways of survival. He’d had to claw his way through life (literally), but not too long ago, he’d landed a sweet deal here near where these humans dwelt. They frequently threw out tasty morsels of food (wasteful creatures, humans), and plenty of mice congregated near their dwelling, so he’d set up his own dwelling in an old shed out back. The humans here didn’t bother him. He knew at least one of them had seen him before, but they didn’t try to catch him and trap him. Still, he kept his distance.
Now here were these whippersnappers running right up to where the humans lived. Didn’t they know they were supposed to sneak up and look for scraps with stealth? He shook his head.
Just as he moved a paw to step out from his covering and school the kittens in the ways of the world, he saw the door open. Uh-oh. Human. He quickly pulled his paw back and retreated further into the bushes. Just to be safe.
The human with the thick, curly mane of fur on its head stepped out and crouched down. “Tom, Jerry, what are you two up to?” she crooned at the little blue-eyed kittens. To his horror, the kittens ran right up to the human, rubbing their entire bodies along its ankles, purring. Shameful behavior. The human laughed, a light, tinkling sound, and scooped them up in her arms where they vied for her affections, rubbing their heads along her chin.
Cats with names. No respectable cat went by a name. The calico had no name. If anything, he was simply referred to as the masked calico, but cats didn’t needs names. They went by their senses. Cats knew one another by their scents. That’s when he realized what the two little white, blue-eyed kittens were. House cats. Even if they didn’t live in the house, house cats were any cats that threw their lot in with humans, allowing humans to run their paws along their bodies and submitting to all kinds of handling – and purring throughout the entire awful experience no less!
There was no way the masked calico would ever allow a human to touch his fur. It was just unnatural.
He continued to watch the exchange between the kittens and human. She ran her paws from the tops of their heads down to the tips of their tails while they arched up into her paws like…well, he didn’t want to say what they looked like. Suffice it to say their behavior was disgraceful.
When they finally rolled over onto their backs, exposing their underbellies to the human, the masked calico had to look away in disgust. Just like dogs. These kittens had obviously never been instructed in the ways of feral etiquette. There they were exposing their most vulnerable spots to the human! All it would take is one bite or one swipe of its paw, and there they’d be.
When he turned his head back, his eyes widened. What was this? He watched as the human crouched down and placed bowls in front of each of the kittens. He could smell the contents all the way across the yard…
The human was giving them food! And they didn’t have to sneak up to get it! Soooo…that’s why they submitted to all the handling. The masked calico’s tummy rumbled with hunger. Sure looks good…maybe those kittens are onto something…
No. He shook his head as if to clear it. That’s how they draw you in. He knew better than to trust a human. The last one he’d let touch him had caged him up for days until he’d finally outwitted it and broken free. No. Never again. No matter how hungry he got.
He laid down on the grass, still watching the scene played out before him. He’d wait for his scraps like usual. No need to get greedy and risk his freedom. He’d rather go hungry than live in a cage.
He watched the human stand back up from her crouched position. She tossed her mane over her shoulders and looked in his direction. He sat very still. He couldn’t be sure, but he thought she’d spotted him. He started to bolt, but then he relaxed as she went into her dwelling.
He’d just relaxed again when a moment later she reappeared with another bowl of food. The masked calico eyed her warily from his position in the bushes. He was sure she saw him, and he tensed his haunches in case he’d have to make a run for it.
The corners of her mouth lifted up, and she walked very slowly towards him. Was she stalking him? He really didn’t understand the ways of humans. They were odd creatures to say the least. For instance, why didn’t they walk on all their paws? They could run so much faster if they would.
Now he knew for sure that she’d seen him, so he dropped all pretenses of hiding and stood up, still taut and slightly crouched. She stilled in response and then crooned to him, “Hey, kitty. I’m not gonna hurt you. Just brought you some food.”
He watched as she kept her eyes on him and slowly lowered the bowl to the ground. He crouched lower and considered growling, but didn’t, saving it. He was going to have to bolt. He just knew it.
But in a surprise move the human backed away. Again, slowly – just like she’d come. He blinked. She kept her eyes on him until she’d taken several steps backwards, and then the most miraculous thing happened. She rose to her full height, turned and walked back into the dwelling.
The masked calico continued to half-sit/half-stand in his crouched position. Was that is? She was gone? No trying to catch him? He waited what seemed forever before he finally relaxed. Did the human just give him food without asking for anything in return? He put a cautionary paw forward and looked around to make sure it wasn’t a trap. Another paw. And then another. It seemed the coast was clear, so he made his way to the food bowl and took a bite.
Heaven. It was meat! Oftentimes the humans threw out mixtures of plants. He was lucky to find a scrap of meat in the mixtures sometimes, but this…this was pure meat!
He sat before the bowl and dug in, savoring the life-sustaining taste, and despite himself, he purred. Maybe humans weren’t half bad…