I glare at him. Those warm, brown eyes, ever filled with expressions of wonder and excitement. Honestly, I find him utterly stupid. What is there to even be excited about? Nothing. The food here’s bunk, the People are dull. I can’t even test my claws on the sofa, for Bast’s sake! And those kids, always grabbing at my tail or running sticky fingers through my fur. It’s exhausting!
Yet for some reason, they love him more than me. I mean, it’s obvious I’m much better than him- are his claws this shiny, his fur this sleek, his fangs this…sharp? No. Or, well, maybe the bit about the fangs is right. It sure looks like it might be, which is why, for the first few weeks he’s here, I keep my distance. But I still watch.
But after a time, encounters with this DOG become unavoidable. Of course, it’s not my fault- I’m DEFINITELY stealthy enough to keep away from him if I really wanted to- but nearly a month after he arrives, the People snatch me up and put this stupid little jingly thing they call a ‘bell’ on my collar. I don’t know what I did to deserve this disgusting addition; I was good, for the most part, never scratched the bratty young of the People, didn’t rip up the drapes past the first foot from the floor, and every day or two I’d bring them a nice little sparrow (or maybe a mouse, to change it up). Everyone KNOWS the People are much too dumb to hunt for themselves, and I don’t see that DOG bringing them anything but flying discs and muddy sticks. So why they put this ‘bell’ on me, I’ll never understand. But the bell is how it all started.
Why do they play with You more than me? I don’t ask for much, just a nice, warm lap to sleep in…
Sorry, I must’ve dozed off. I didn’t sleeping so well the past several days… It was probably that stupid bell. Cats don’t get nightmares.
Anyway, I was talking about the bell. And that DOG. As you can probably guess, the bell made it a lot harder to avoid him. There were a few near-misses. I’d be walking about, as I do, that constant jingling going with me, and I’d hear clumsy-heavy steps, four legs not two, and up I’d leap onto a high shelf, or the top of a cabinet, or once even this big, solid ceiling fan. And I’d wait there until the stupid mutt would forget about me and wonder off again. But things couldn’t go on like that. I had to face him. The only question was how.
When I creep through the house at night, everything’s silent. I pass the rooms of the young, doors ajar, they sleep peacefully. I poke my head into the room of the People, and see You curled up in the spot I have come to think of as my own.
My apologies for drifting off again. I should really look into finding a nice, sunny patch to curl up in later.
But back to that DOG. It was getting to the point where an encounter was unavoidable. So I decided to seek him out.
The People were taking their young somewhere they referred to as the “Water park”, the day I decided I’d do it (although why anyone would ever want to go to a place called “Water park”, I’ll never know- parks can be alright, but adding water just sounds like a terrible idea). But no matter the idiocy of humans, going to this horrid-sounding place still meant they’d be gone, and there was my chance. They left fairly early, the sky still dark and that DOG lying half-asleep at the foot of the stairs. So I waited a little.
The people had been gone for a bit, perhaps an hour or two, and I was dozing on my favorite spot on the sofa. It’s then that I hear the faint, silvery sound of tags; the DOG is up and moving. I leapt down and let out a loud meow to call him in (I wasn’t going to go to him- I’M not some dumb DOG). He trotted in, tail high and wagging, and greeted me with a wet nose aimed to my back-end. There was no way I was going to let that happen. I turned on him, claws out and ready to swipe at his nose. But he was oblivious, still the same dumb, happy DOG, intruder in my home and new favorite of the people. And he opened his mouth and slimed me with that long, lolling tongue. Things were not going as I’d intended.
Later, I tipped over his food dish. That would teach him, I thought.
. . . He brought me a tennis ball.
When the People got home, they saw the spilled food, and the DOG got put outside. He just lay on the porch a while, head down, until they decided to let him back in. And that’s how things went for a while- I brought the DOG slippers to bait him into having a chew, or made sure he knew about every squirrel to enter the yard so he’d bark crazily, and so on. They’d put him outside a while for each offense; and good riddance, I always thought.
The People and their young started playing with him less- more cries of “bad DOG!”, less fetching, less petting. But somehow, they still seemed to have forgotten all about me. I knew it was time for some drastic measures.
The DOG had a favorite toy, you see. This small, be-squeakered thing, soft on the mouth and fashioned into the likeness of a goose. I knew (from seeing him play with the young) that he would follow it anywhere. And so, my plan came to fruition.
It’s very demeaning for an elegant feline such as myself to so much as touch a DOG’s toy, let alone PLAY with one, but I’d had to make an exception in this case. Being sure to get his attention with a lot of carefully timed squeaking, I led him into the garden. Once I had him following, it was easy- I looped my way through the potted plants, squeaking as I went, and the DOG chased after, breaking pots and becoming thoroughly covered in potting soil and plant matter. A bit of luck on my part had the People’s sprinklers going off just after, and the DOG running through them. More squeaking, and he was happily bounding back into the house, leaving tracks and splashes of mud everywhere he went.
The People were outraged. They spent hours cleaning, well, everything. The yard, the dog, the house. By the end of the day, they were tired, sweaty, and downright mean. And that’s when I heard talk of taking him back to the Bad Place. I was utterly shocked.
This hadn’t been my intention- I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, as dirty, smelly, slobbery as they might be. The Bad Place- what the People called “Shelter”- was the worst fate imaginable. Once you’re out of there, if you ever come back, you know the only way you’ll ever leave those dank little cages again is on a one-way visit to the Back.
At the time I’d heard them say it, I was curled in the lap of one of the People, her having scooped me up and onto her, for the first time in months. It should have made me happy, but somehow it didn’t. The DOG was laying on the porch outside. I leapt from my spot and went to the door, mewing until they let me out. His head lifted as I passed, and though they wouldn’t let him in, I made sure to brush my side against him on my way. I would sleep outside tonight, too.
When I wandered through the backyard again later, I could see him resting quietly on a rug inside. The People had forgiven. I stayed outside.
The sliding door is open slightly, and I slip inside. The People and their young are gone, You are gone, the house seems deserted, like they, like You, were never even there. Where did You go?
It’s been a few days since then. Sorry I fell asleep on you again. I think I’ll go find that patch of sun now. By the back door should be good.
I wander through the house a little, and for once it’s surprisingly silent. My bell ended up off, and lost, somewhere in the commotion of the past week or so. I curl up in the center of a large rectangle of light, that patch of carpet already warmed some. Nap time.
. . . After a little while, I hear a faint, familiar jingling, and then the feeling a large, warm body curling partway around my own. He’s more solid than I would have guessed, and he smells sweet- like tall grass. I listen to his even breathing, the steady thump-thump of his heart, and they lull me to sleep.
Maybe you’re not so bad after all.