The Cat and My Sheltering Mind

March 11, 2009
By Anonymous

A piercing, frigid breeze battered my ruddy cheeks as I made the journey home from where the bus had let me off. I found the agitated rush of cars passing to be exceedingly irritating; today in particular though, I suppose it was more due to my foul mood, rather than the questionable annoyance concerning the driver’s side of the equation. Mundane and dreary grass, ice cold vehicles, and frosted asphalt alike blended into my eyes, symbolizing to me the mediocrity of day-to-day life in such a quiet suburb, and I came to understand all of this on this sun-deprived afternoon as the snowflakes drifted to the swallowing earth beneath my feet.

A flash of color among the grey catches my attention; entrancing my panicked gaze and my eyes are instantly asphyxiated to the plight of a pumpkin blur which was streaking across the road I stood by, not ten yards ahead.

‘He won’t make it.’ I thought despairingly, as I muddled up my layers of clothing to brace my expression for disgust. But the cat did not give up. Its legs possessed not the stiffness of a deer when under fire, but instead the nimble enthusiasm as an eager mosquito, bouncing across the pavement. My eyes widened, comparable in size to dinner plates, and I knew not then what drove my concern to its impressive peak, for not many worldly displays of any particularly earthly ideas could command such worry in my perceptions.

I braced for the impact, as if I was in some form of immediate danger myself. Finally, the car, a mass of cold, black deathly steel, reached the point of no return, where I expected the dreadful collusion to wreck its victim across the entire street, when suddenly I noticed the proud feline emerge on the opposite side of its assailant, still running, and bound for the infinite curb, which raised itself arrogantly apart from the rest of the dark, busy street, as if the snobbish aristocrat would dare deny the hurried beast from its instinctual right that was the sidewalk. To my delight, no such spite was acted upon.

An SUV; I frowned, spotting the back of the inconsiderate motorist. As if those gas-guzzlers don’t cause enough problems; now the drivers are going about with their hit and run attacks upon innocent cats. A cat, yes, or perhaps a kitten; what an injustice it would have been were a newly arrived gift to the world to be snuffed out just as the forgotten candle is suffocated under the tires of monotonous air and neglect. A cruel deed from a poor driver; a crime of God himself, were this bereavement to have taken place, particularly in such damning darkness of the approaching night.

Reaching the sidewalk directly diagonal to me, he explicitly motioned that I follow him down the street that apparently belonged to the both of us. It was my home; it was his home, though really not either of ours. Clearly we both knew and understood that the street belonged not to one person, but to a myriad of Irish-American racists that made their domain along its snowy banks; they now seemed so unimportant. Today, it was not their street, nor did I make it mine; today, Buckeye Drive fell under the possession of creamy buttered paws that sank into the powder snow, peppering the sidewalk with tracks no more than an inch across. He was king here, and I was an observer in his court.

Meaning to follow, I scurried clumsily towards the sidewalk on the other side of the busier street, which met the cat’s home street at a right angle. Half sprinting and half stumbling, I expected at one point that my pace would not be enough to escape an oncoming car. Time seemed to stand still, or at least progress at a much slower rate than before. The blindingly white behemoth lurched forward hungrily. Overcome with a sense of apathy, my mind glowed faintly with the ideation of simply standing still, awaiting my doom. Consideration gave in to the liberating realm of possibility. Though the thought was one with which to experiment, the deadly rationalization appeared unquestionably sensible, if but for the fraction of a moment it was.

Jolted to reality, I abandoned my intense sedentary pondering. Without warning, my legs acted of their own accord, rushing me to the roadside in a frightening explosion of adrenaline; my now powerless scheming foe, or perhaps liberating ally, if not both the former and latter titles, rolled harmlessly down its original path, completely unaware to its avoidance of the ordeal that could have disrupted its routine motion.

I rose from my resting position which had been on my knees. Panting heavily, I noticed I felt unnaturally attached to the cat. Our bond seemed an obvious one in my eyes, though in the same moment to this warming conclusion, I was contradicted. My lonesome cohort at last put into action his ultimate desire considering our meeting; he bounded under a series of frost-laden wintergreen underbrush, and our eyes tangled no longer, instead my gaze once again reveled in the bittersweet dissociation of rejection its obscured yet plainly merciless manifestation.

Having discovered that such sentimentality was not, and never had been mutual, I shrugged my backpack—which had been disobediently slipping down my shoulder—back up so that it was raised comfortably in agreement with the position of my neck. I pointed my body in the direction of my home down the lane, which laid no more than a fathom from myself; hastened my pace, reminded of the frigid winter air, and continued walking.

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