This kitten knows how to turn a Monday around!
The dust dried his mouth, and as he tongued the grit around his teeth, Mike cast a glance of fury at the oppressive sun. His legs burned, ached from using them as pistons in the hard gravel and soft, unstable dust of the dirt road, and he mused at how apt this summer Monday had been. Waking up late and his car breaking down a couple of miles back sandwiched the loss of his job. The only consolation he could feel in this moment was that he was home, and he would be able to spend the rest of this miserable day with his kitten, LeeLoo.
He turned and trudged up the driveway, his house only yards away, the oasis of cool drink and a warm reception from his feline buddy. He made it to the door and lifted his weary hand to push the key into the lock when he heard a voice from within. He dropped his key and cocked his head. The voice was muffled, but it was there. He jammed his key in the lock and twisted, turning the knob and flinging the door open. He stood in the living room, his head turning to inspect every sound, but there was nothing alerting him to suspicious activity. When LeeLoo walked in from the kitchen, he loosened his stance and closed the front door.
The kitten, a gray and white hairless bambino, stretched her little, muscular front legs out with her back half still standing, her tail a squiggly line becoming stiff as the stretch worked its way down her back. When finished, she looked up him and meowed, her soft, dainty voice smashing the shell guarding his heart. He smiled and bent down to pick her up, to feel the comfort of her weight and warmth against his chest. She began purring instantly, her motor revved full speed as he carried her into the kitchen. She meowed again, rubbing her face on his chest, excited about eating, but he wanted to shower away the film of dirt on his skin first.
He stepped into the bathroom and set LeeLoo on the counter next to the sink. He crawled out of his grimy clothes and turned on the shower, a comforting sound as the streams of hot water pelted the plastic wall. He gave the one-year-old kitten one more little pat on the head before stepping into the wet enclosure.
The water, he was sure, had never felt this baptismal to anyone ever before. The heat flushed his skin red, the pressure pounding into his muscles as the steam opened up his sinuses, and he voted this shower the best of his life. His heart was feeling better already. He finished, his muscles reluctant to obey his brain to cease the flow from the shower head, and then he stepped out, grabbed a towel, and began drying off. The kitten was no longer in the room. He assumed she was sitting beside her empty bowl, waiting for him to come and allow her the opportunity to eat.
With towel in hand, he started from the bathroom, but before he entered the bedroom, he heard the voice again, the one from earlier when he was outside the house. The speaking was definite, and he froze as he listened to it.
“He came home early,” the woman was saying. “I don’t know why, but we’ll have to reschedule. Yeah, I get how much of an inconvenience it is to cancel something this big at the last minute, but I can’t help it. This is outta my control.”
Mike Addisphon peered through the crack between the door and the wall into his bedroom where the computer sat on his desk. There was another cat on the video, and, with her paw on the mouse, was LeeLoo. And her mouth was moving.
She was conversing.
She clicked the mouse, and the window with other cat on the screen disappeared. LeeLoo hopped down from the desk onto the chair, swirling it around as she disembarked with the grace of only cats. He tapped the door, pushing it open as he peeked around. She jumped up on the bed and curled up into a little ball.
“Did I just see you talking?” he asked her. She didn’t look up. “I know I just saw you talking to another cat. In English.”
Her belly heaved up slowly, then back down. He stared at her, his eyebrows raised as he awaited an answer. He looked up and saw his reflection in the mirror. He looked silly, arms crossed as he interrogated this cat. Of course she hadn’t been speaking, she was a cat. Even in his hippy days, Mike had never heard a cat utter sentient sentiments. The stress from the worst Monday ever was probably taking its toll. Maybe the shower loosened up his mental faculties, maybe –
“So?” she asked him back, raising her head to look him in the eyes. “Are you gonna fill my food bowl, or are you just gonna keep on talking? Go ahead and wrap that towel around you, too. I don't care to see...that.” Her eyes, also, seemed to be speaking a new language, one of stern dominance. He donned the towel, his face scrunched together from so many questions, and then he went into the kitchen, almost tripping on LeeLoo and she wove through his legs.
“Easy,” she instructed. “Don’t walk so rough!”
“Your bowl isn’t even close to being empty,” Mike informed her, his face in a grimace.
“I never said it was empty,” she retorted. “I said I needed it to be full.”
“Okay, we'll talk about your near-perfect English in a bit,” he said down to her, “but what is this attitude? Or...is it...cattitude? Eh?” He smiled, waiting to receive the praise of his wit.
“Our first rule is you shouldn’t make cat jokes,” she said, her eyes squinted and ears back. “They aren't as cute as you think they are.”
“Sorry,” he said.
“Rule number two should address the amount of food in my bowl,” LeeLoo continued. “There should never be space for anything but food. Not even air. Food only and all the time. Is that clear?”
“Yes, ma'am,” he answered, the level of respect surprising himself. He filled the plastic cup up with her food and poured into the meal bowl, the hard bits clinking against the side. She made no move to eat, only sat and stared at him, one ear perked up. “Is there anything else?” he asked. He didn't know if he was being sarcastic or if he really wanted to know.
“Now that you mention it, the faces you make while clipping the claws on your feet are disturbing,” she quipped.
“You seem angry.”
“I don't mean to make you feel inferior,” she said as she gulped a mouthful of food. She bit hard, crunching the food as pieces flew from her mouth.
“That’s not...that’s not what I said,” he spat out, confused.
“I’m not angry,” she continued. “This is my normal attitude. I guess you could call it my...cattitude. Ha HA! That is funny.” She scooped up more kibble into her muzzle. “Hey, next time, will you please buy the seafood medley? This stuff tastes horrible.”
“It’s liver-flavored,” he said.
“Do I look like a species who eats...liver?” She took another bite.
“You’re eating it now,” he countered. “You eat mice. Don't they have livers?”
“That bag you're holding there, is that a bag of rodent livers?”
“I don’t...I can't answer for sure, but I don't think it's that,” he answered, placing the bag down. “Okay, I'll grab the seafood medley. How can you speak?”
“We've had the ability to speak since before the Egyptians. We're actually the ones who invented the English languages.”
“Why not French?” he joked.
“That’s the territory of the zebras,” she replied as she swallowed her food. She stepped away from her bowl. “Well, zebras and wombats have both laid claim to inventing French, but who can really say?” She thrust her back leg up into the air, a rigid limb as she began licking her stomach. “My bowl is basically empty.”
“So, if you guys created English, and the zebras or wombats made French, then who first spoke Italian?”
“The Italians,” she responded, an incredulous snarl working one side of her little kitten mouth as she shook her head slowly. “Can I lay on your shoulders?
“You’re gettin’ heavy,” he answered. “Especially since you've gained a little more -”
“I’m supposed to look like this!” she whined. “It’s called a ‘primordial pouch’! Google it!”
“Did the Egyptians know you guys could talk?”
“They were the first to see us as divinity because we spoke. Of course, they couldn't understand English. Linguistically, they had their own thing goin’ on, and, to be honest, between the Kemetic language and Coptic writing and pretty hieroglyphs, we didn't care to learn anything new. We came to an understanding with the Egyptian people, a compromise, if you will. ‘Meow’ saved us so many headaches.” She looked down at her bowl. “I said my food is gone.”
“Wait, you can work the internet?” he asked.
“Of course. I'm the regional director of Members Ensuring Our Ways. I was actually working on today's meeting for the convention, and I had to cancel. I was on a video chat with Mr. Sqiqqlebottoms, the president of the association, when you impeded upon my personal time. Not trying to give too much information, but it has to do with the McRib.” She stopped bathing herself and gazed from the bag of food to her bowl. Mike sighed, poured in a few pieces until there was food spilling onto the floor, then put the bag back in the pantry.
“I have so many questions. I mean, what prompted you guys to learn to speak? Is it because y’all are workin’ for world domination?” He smiled.
“We achieved domination the moment you simps were smitten with our ability to be adorable and brought us into your houses. We've owned you ever since your people filled a small box with sand and invited us to defecate. I have some questions for you.” She whipped her tail back and forth across the floor as if it was a whip. She stood and walked back into the bedroom, stopping only to look back with impatience when he didn't immediately follow her.
“What are your questions?” he asked as he took the hint and walked into the bedroom. He sat on the bed, and she jumped up beside him, her tail still flicking.
“Did you know if you posted more pictures on social media, your popularity would rise? Do you know how much humans on the internet love cats?”
“Wait, what? I thought you had questions about me.”
"What is there about your life I wouldn't possibly know? Please. I don't go anywhere. All I know these days is just what happens around here."
"You sure are bein' -"
"Catty?" she finished, pleased with her own pun. "What else would I be? Batty? Fishy? Mousey? I guess those are all better than doggy. No, listen, I'm serious about the pictures.”
"I post a bunch of pictures," he defended.
"Sure, pictures of processed stuff you consider 'food'. And you post too many pictures of whatever book you're reading. It's pretentious and preachy, and it creates a barrier between you and anyone who would like you."
"Ouch," Mike responded. "That stings a little more than I was prepared for."
"Wait, now I'm the one who doesn't understand," LeeLoo said. "You don't care about what people think of you, but you're affected by my opinion?" She tilted her head and stared at an irregular spot of plaster on the wall as if considering this idea. "No," she said after a moment of silence, "I don't get that."
"It's just been more of a difficult day than I anticipated. I got fired, the car broke down a couple of miles away, I think my phone has permanently given up the ghost, and all I've wanted to do this whole day is to come home and feel loved by you. And then, when I discover the miracle of my talking cat, she uses this ability to tell me how much I discredit existence." He balanced his elbows on his knees and buried his face in his palms. “This day is just stupid.”
"Stop it," she commanded. She stood, stretched, then walked onto Mike's lap, her balance without the usual dignity bestowed to felines. After scratching and clawing until her whole body was on his legs, she dropped to her stomach and waited for Mike to begin petting her. As soon as he placed his hand on her skin, she started purring. "Sure, you are a bizarre human being. You sing to me all the time as if you've ever been on a stage. It also irritates me when you eat Cheetos without sharing. And, I swear to Bastet, those faces you make when you think nobody is watching -”
"Okay," he said, his inflection rising with impatience.
"-and maybe right this moment you aren't at your peak. That just means the bar is set low for tomorrow, just in time for a new start to be the better person you want to be." She began kneading her paws on his legs, her finger-daggers slipping into his skin and causing him to hitch in breaths between his teeth each time.
"I see what you're doing here, and I appreciate it, but I'm just not feelin' it right this second."
“That's okay. You should take the rest of the day off from being so hard on yourself, and remember I really do love you." She put her face on the skin of Mike’s knee and rubbed.
"That... that actually does make me feel better," he said. He bent his head down and rubbed his face against hers. "You make my life so much happier."
"I know," she whispered. "As soon as you feel better, we need to talk about when you'll be purchasing the seafood medley. My bowl only has about ten minutes until it's empty again, and it won't be long after that when I die of starvation."
"You still have almost a full bag of-"
"Ssshhh," she cooed, "we'll talk later. I'm about to fall asleep, and I would appreciate the quiet.”
He waited until she stopped purring, her eyes closed. Once he was sure she was sleeping, he placed her gently on the soft comforter and smiled. Of all the twists this Monday had offered, he looked forward to dealing more with LeeLoo, to know what she knew, to see the world differently. This Monday would still be a personal win, finding the new magic of a old friend.
He smiled and rubbed the towel over his head.