Showing posts with label Short Stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Short Stories. Show all posts

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

A Cat Is For Life - A Short Story

I finished suckling and opened my eyes. We were lying on a soft white rug in front of some strange red and yellow crackling stuff that emitted a pleasant, but potentially dangerous, warmth. Over my mother and I reached the limbs of an ominous yet brightly decorated tree all greens and browns. My reflection in one of the large shiny baubles was curved and curious. I could see my pink nose, my short stubby whiskers, and my big, questioning green eyes. Under the tree were packages of all shapes and sizes, all wrapped up with string and colourful paper. I inspected these with interest but, compared to the soft warmth of my mother, the hard corners and edges offered little except the temptation of something to scratch my chin against. The air was filled with a variety of delicious smells I could not identify.
“Good morning love,” Mother smiled drowsily. “And how are you this fine Christmas Day?”
“Fine Momma,” I said. “Thank you for the milk.”
“You’re very welcome little one.”
I blinked lazily again at the bright, flickering tongues sending out heat that dried my eyes. “Momma, what’s that?”
“That’s fire my son,” Mother said. “It feels nice on a winter morn, doesn’t it? But you must never sniff it or you will burn your tiny nose.”
I sighed. “I have lots to learn.”
Mother grinned. “Yes, but there’s no rush. No rush at all, my young treasure. Take your time, enjoy life.” She got herself comfortable and made to drift off to sleep again.
I studied her. “Could you give me some … advice?”
Mother opened her eyes. “Advice?”
“Yes Momma,” I said. “It looks like a big, cold world out there. What should I do? How should I act? You are a cat of experience but it’s all new to me.”
“Well,” Mother purred. “I suppose I could give you some starters. First of all : Know and protect your boundaries.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll understand when you’re older and venture outside to meet other cats.”
“Uh, okay. Protect my boundaries.”
“Yes. But don’t overdo it. Laze the day away whenever possible. A good work-life balance is critical. 80% napping, 20% work. No more.”
“Ok.”
Suddenly a huge pair of stocking-clad legs stepped over us. I jerked my head up to see they were attached to a plump, cooing giant carrying a tray. A shiver ran through me.
“It’s okay darling,” purred Mother. “That’s one of the Owners. They look after us. Bring them a small dead animal now and then as sacrifice.”
“Really?”
“Yes, they love it. I always like to pop one in her slipper. Her reaction is a delight.”
“I’ll try to remember.”
“Now, in the night-time, you must stalk restlessly around.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s our way. Also it helps expend your extra energy in order for you to nap efficiently during the day.”
“Okay.”
“Oh, and never smile.”
“Never?”
“Ever.  And never apologise.”
“What if I make a mistake?”
“Always act like you meant it, my love. You must keep your feline pride intact. In Egypt we are gods, remember. Remain aloof.”
“I’ll try.”
“Another important one is that pingpong balls are spawn of Satan and must be chased to the ends of the earth.”
“Pingpong?”
“Yes. Little round white plastic orbs. Sometimes they will try to trick you by playing dead, but if you bat them with a paw off they will run again. Mark my words, little angel.”
“I shall … keep an eye out.”
“And sometimes, after a nice bath, you may feel the urge to cough up hair. There is absolutely no shame in this. ‘A fur-ball on the carpet is better than in the small intestine,’ my mother always told me.”
“What else did she tell you?”
“She often said, ‘Lap - don’t slurp.’
I gazed at her in bafflement.
“‘Sit patiently,’ she also said. ‘Look at a door and it shall be opened unto you.’ Ah, I miss her.”
I snuggled in to Mother. “Was she a good cat?”
“Yes, she was. She gave me the gift of love, and I pass that on to you.”
“And what about your father? Did he give you any advice?
“I didn’t know my father much, but I do remember one thing he used to say. ‘Remove your head you may not can, if you stick it somewhere under your whisker span.’
“That rhymes.”
“Yes, but it doesn’t quite scan. He wasn’t much of a poet your grampa.”
“It’s a lot to take in.”
“There’s plenty of time for learning about life my love.” Mother closed her eyes and stretched.
The packages under the tree again caught my attention. “And Momma, what are those?”
Mother didn’t bother to open her eyes this time. “They’re presents. The Owners and their family give them to each other at this time of year to show they love them. Just like I give you these words of cat wisdom to you, because I love you.”
A lump formed in my throat and tears prickled my eyes.
Mother opened her lids. “What’s the matter?”
“I don’t have a present for you,” I whimpered.
“Oh my love,” Mother said, hugging me close. “You are the best gift for which any cat could ask.”




© Chris R Young December 2019

Saturday, 1 May 1993

First Short Story Published


My first published short story "A Talk With Death by Mark R Cain" is published in a book of stories from writers in Strathclyde, "Paperclips" edited by Suzi Blair in 1993.


I was only 18 and over the moon, but the euphoria was short lived when I realised my name didn't actually appear anywhere in the book, replaced instead by the name of the writer in the short story.