A Leap of Faith

“Who wants to be a millionaire? Dun dun dun dunnnnn!” the TV blared at a startling volume. Rolling over and lazily lifting one eyelid, the cat stretched out its legs and let out a long yawn. Annoyed from his involuntary arousal, Chauncey sat up on the bed and looked angrily up at his master, who had just snuggled back under the covers with a breakfast tray on his lap. The smell of pancakes and syrup wafted through the air under Chauncey’s nose, tickling his whiskers. He envied his master, and his delicious fresh food, but knew he would not be allowed to taste his breakfast. With a low growl to state his distaste, Chauncey hopped off the warm bed and headed into the kitchen.

Chauncey’s own breakfast was much less appetizing. Sitting in a blue plastic bowl in the corner of the room was the dry, bitter meal of Friskies Seafood Sensations. How he loathed the boringness of dry cat food, so inferior to the delectable options humans were able to enjoy. I would do anything for a fresh meal, he thought. After forcefully swallowing the last bite, Chauncey left for the adjacent living room.
If there was any room that Chauncey felt he owned, it was this room. It was a nice, cozy room, small by a man’s standard, but perfectly roomy for a cat like Chauncey. He headed to his favorite part of the room, a warm crook in the sectional where he often surrounded himself in soft pillows. The couch faced a wide-screen television where he could watch his favorite movies, such as Cats vs. Dogs, Garfield and Aristocats. On the wall parallel to the couch was a wide window facing the neighboring house.

Perched on a windowsill behind the chain-link fence sat Sprinkles, the lustful object of Chauncey’s dreams. Why does she have to be so perfect! Chauncey contemplated as she slowly licked the back of her paw. Her white fur was fluffy and elegant, and it had a pristine sheen that invited Chauncey’s imagination to wander. As he watcher her, he caught his own reflection in the window and observed himself, slightly disappointed. A coat of shabby light-brown fur covered him from head to tail, accented by long whiskers and tall, pointed ears. He certainly wasn’t a bad looking cat, just improperly groomed. Maybe if my master cared enough to buy a comb, he thought. Regardless, Chauncey knew that Sprinkles was clearly out of his league.

Turning away from the window, a new object in the room caught his attention. Across from him stood the familiar bookshelf, which was getting dusty from lack of use. However, sitting upon it was a large block of water. And inside it, swam a fish. Chauncey stared in bewilderment with questions flying through his head. How did it get here? Why is my master keeping it in the house? How is that block of water not spilling over and getting everything wet?

Chauncey had certainly seen fish before, but never in real life, let alone in his own home. On Tuesday nights he would watch the Discovery Channel with his master, which intrigued him because of the animals he saw. Every once in a while he would see fish on the TV, which he recognized from the can on his Friskies Seafood Sensations. Blech…How he despised dry cat food. Tuning back to the fish in front of him, Chauncey’s mouth began to water, his eyes following it as it swam back and forth.
* * *

With its slow, methodical movements through the water, the fish was a captivating sight. Her orange-gold scales glittered as the light refracted off of them, each scale sparkling independently from the others as her thin tail and fins propelled her through the water. Her protruding eyes peered down at the feline staring up at her. I can’t believe I’m stuck in this tank, she thought as she continued to swim back and forth. I need to find a way out…
***
I need to find a way in! Chauncey thought. It was all he could think about. He had had enough of his horrible, dry, bitter cat-food for a lifetime. He wanted more! In his head he pictured the sensation of biting into the soft, wet flesh of the fish. Then an even greater thought flickered across his mind. With the fish as his prize, he would take it to Sprinkles, and they would share the treat together and they would bond and she would fall in love with him and have a litter of kittens…His imagination was already racing away, but first he needed to find a way in!

As he began brainstorming ideas of how to get to the fish, his master emerged from his bedroom dressed for work. “Bye Chaunce!” he called, “I’ll be back later, be good.” But Chauncey had little intention of being “good”.

After the door closed, Chauncey climbed onto the shoulder of the couch, staring across at the tank. He decided that if he gave it a running start, he could easily leap off of the shoulder and grab the fish. His paws began sweating in his excitement and his tail started to wag from side to side in anticipation. With both eyes locked onto the fish, he lined up his target, and in three galloping strides he crossed the length of the couch, and flew off the shoulder making a beeline straight for the fish. Just as soon as he had taken his leap of faith he felt a crushing pain meet his face as he collided with an invisible fortress. What Chauncey thought was the penetrable surface of water was a very hard barrier of nothingness. His momentum carried the rest of his body into the barrier, further crushing his face, and then he fell helplessly to the ground.
Chauncey hit the floor in a daze, his face still throbbing. He gazed up curiously at the block of water, perplexed by what had happened. Regaining his senses, he realized that the water and fish were surrounded by a window-like substance that he could see through, but not cross through. When he looked through his own window, he saw that Sprinkles had left her windowsill, leaving the frame empty.. Determined to get the fish for her, and for himself, Chauncey began to think of another way to acquire the fish.
***
Still in shock from her close encounter with the cat, the fish had become rigid, nearly frozen in place. The cat’s speed and collision with her tank had frightened her, but it had sparked an idea. Perhaps this cat will be useful to me.
***

After failing his first attempt, Chauncey had revised his original plan. Now, his jump would aim for the edge of the window-like container. The fish was now swimming near the top of the water, and he would be able to slap it out of the water while hanging on the edge. Once it was out of its environment he would be able to take the fish easily. And once he had acquired his prize, Sprinkles would be his…Just then he heard a faint meow from outside. Sprinkles. He ran to the sliding door and pushed it open scanning the yard for any sight of her. All he saw was an empty lawn, still covered in dew from the cold morning. Disappointed, he padded back inside, hardly bothering to close the door.
He focused back on the fish, who was still swimming back and forth, back and forth. The fish’s movements were enticing, daring him to take another leap. The light caught its scales again, and he could no longer control himself. Hopping back up on the couch, he crouched, poised on his toes, aiming at the fish. Then in a bolting leap of faith, he flew at the edge of the block of water.
Chauncey was not prepared for what happened next. As he grabbed onto the edge, he slipped and fell backwards, bringing the container full of water with him. The once still water now surged with force, and like a powerful wave it crashed over Chauncey, taking the fish with it. It submerged Chauncey, soaking him to the core of his skinny frame beneath his fur. As he fell hopelessly to the floor, the current of water rushed across the room, heading for the back door.
Still on his back, Chauncey turned his drenched head to the door, witnessing the orange-gold shimmering fish leaving the house at full speed. Scrambling to his feet, he splashed across the sodden floor towards the door, desperately chasing the fish. As he turned the corner and looked outside, he caught one last glimpse of the fish as the current pulled it down the sewer drain.
***
Freedom! She yelled triumphantly in her head. The cat had proved to be very useful, and he had set her free. All her life she had been limited to the space of a bowl or tank, but now she had limitless miles to swim…
***

When Chauncey’s master came home that evening, he found a soaking wet carpet, a broken glass tank, a missing fish, and a defeated-looking Chauncey, who sat in a puddle on the kitchen floor, slowly nibbling on his Friskies Seafood Sensations.





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