No Dialogue Contest Jan 2021
|In a heartbeat she progressed from being irritated this job was taking so much longer than hoped, to a painful thunder filling her ears as she realised he’d seen her. Both froze as their eyes met. A peculiar fear flickered through her as she peered into his huge brown eyes—liquid pools reflecting their shock. Her thoughts were the only thing stirring in this surreal moment. Illogically, she wondered if fear stretched her eyes as wide as his.
In this otherwise calm dusk, the rustling of leaves had caused the earliest awareness of his presence… fearfully close. An intangible difference in the sound the slight breeze made in the treetops above made her afraid to shift her head in his direction. Her fine neck hairs rose on edge as painful pinpricks dotted her scalp; beads of perspiration broke out on her forehead and traveled in a gradual trickling path down her spine.
His shape, moulded close to the branches and disguised by leaves, together with his stealthy stop/start actions, suggested those of a cat. But not her cat. Missy’s black and white coat would stand out even in this fading light. She considered a wildcat — and felt a twinge of dread, fearing a wildcat might attack her.
A lifetime passed… or maybe merely a moment until he was first to break the mesmerising grip of their stare-down. His eyes flittered from side to side, seeking escape—but never leaving hers for more than a Nano-second.
From deep within her came the strangest feeling; a sudden warmth spreading through her. The ringing in her ears subsided into a peculiar prickling—not unpleasant after all. Against the odds, she was relaxing. His charisma was weaving a strange spell she was reluctant to break, finding herself bewildered by his appealing looks, AND her emotional reaction. Her heart thudded hard again, but not with fear, now.
Their eyes locked once again, and as if an unspoken agreement passed between them, both relaxed as he continued on his way, placing one set of claws after the other as he clambered down the sturdy tree trunk towards her. She watched in amazement, with a growing appreciation of his stealth and fluid dexterity.
With screwed-up eyes, as she strained to see through the fast fading light, she realised he was nothing like a cat—and with a sudden warm adrenalin rush of relief, all became clear. He was much smaller than she’d imagined from the weird heavy breathing she’d heard outside her bedroom window previous nights; eyes more huge and soft than she’d imagined, and larger ears… turning every which way now; his twitching nose scenting out potential danger.
He seemed to sense her admiration gave him permission to feast on the food scraps she had put down for the hens. They were already in their beds, perched in the lower tree branches above, looking down with soft bok-boks as though they, too, gave their grudging approval.
She saw they were no threat to him, as he crouched next to their dish, tiny paws picking up lumps of bread, and fruit and vegetable peelings, sharp little claws gripping them as he delicately checked out his windfall. She couldn’t help a smile—even a quiet chuckle—as he studied and tasted each piece, savouring some and rejecting others, casually casting them to one side.
Although his confident nibbling showed he was trusting her more now, it didn’t stop him flickering his eyes back and forth between her and the unexpected bounty. After all, they didn’t speak the same language, and it was his nature to be ultra-cautious in unknown situations.
She smiled, knowing this stolid, traditional farming community would doubtless reject her if it became known she was feeding a possum.