The prompt this time was “Pet’s Tell the Story,” which is a POV exercise in which you write in the voice of a pet you are familiar with (your own or someone else’s). For a detailed description of this prompt, see this link.
I’m more of a dog person, but I’ve met quite a few cats in my life whom I’ve loved, and one in particular who made me realize that some cats are sweet and affectionate (and possibly wise). The memory of that special cat inspired the piece below.
Those voices can only mean one thing: the boys are here. I can practically taste the testosterone. Bitter, it is, but not all bad. And I’ve learned by now that whatever nap I had going is over now; these guys will be smoking and laughing and banging cabinets in the kitchen, so I might as well join them.
When I get to the landing, I can hear their voices clearly, and I pause when I hear Marcus. He’s my favorite. The only one who never pushes me off his lap: ever. Kieran, whom I’ve known since he was a little boy, doesn’t treat me with the the tenderness that Marcus has for me. Some humans just get it and some humans don’t, you know?
I take my time coming down, because for some stupid reason they toss their stinky tennis shoes at the bottom of the steps, and I’ve tripped over them before. Don’t worry: I always land on all fours.
I round the corner cautiously. The kitchen is filled with sunlight, and all five of them are crowded together on the L-shaped yellow bench beneath the windows. Everyone loves that kitchen booth.
“Kieran,” Marcus asks, “what time is your mom coming home?”
Kieran’s at the counter, the cabinets in front of him are open wide. He’s stretching to reach a bag of cookies; his long limbs are just the right length for high places.
“Not until 6:00,” he says, his shirt hiking up a bit to reveal a light dusting of dark brown fur and that flat, unnerving navel that humans have. I look at Marcus and watch his deep-set brown eyes slide from Kieran’s bright, bright blues to his flat stomach, then back up again to his face.
One of the guys lights a joint and opens the window.
“Hey! There’s that cat!” the blonde says for the 100th time.
“His name is Mr. Boots, dumb ass!” Marcus says, faking annoyance. And everyone says, “Ooooh!”
“Pass him the joint first,” Kieran says. “He’s testy.” He plops the bag of Keebler Fudge Stripes down on the table. I have no interest in human cookies, but everyone else grabs a few and starts chomping away. Marcus selects one, looks at it carefully, and then looks up at Kieran. “I love these,” he says, and Kieran smiles.
I leap onto the closest lap and walk my way toward Marcus. His hand knows just where to go—that spot between my ears and my neck—and I can’t help myself: my motor starts running.
“You guys going to Pinky’s tomorrow night after the game?” Kieran asks. “Buy one large pizza and get a pitcher of Coke free.”
“I got to study for a Trig test,” Marcus says. His hand is traveling down my back now, all the way to the tail. Then he lifts off and goes back to my head. This kid knows what he’s doing.
“On a Saturday?” Kieran asks.
“Just cheat in Wignot’s class, like everyone else,” the blonde says.
“I do,” Marcus says, “and I’m still getting a D.”
“I can help you study on Sunday,” Kieran says. There’s an uncomfortable silence. “I mean, I’m pretty good at math.”
I can feel Marcus’ heartbeat pick up a bit. He wants to tell Kieran something, wants to tell him that he’s in pain, some sort of grief, though I don’t know what it is exactly. He’s silent. Then the conversation turns to girls: who’s foxy, who’s got big boobs. I thought Tomcats were bad! These guys are like dogs.
I decide to sit on the window ledge to soak in some of the sunlight, but I stay right behind Marcus. He remains silent while the guys— Kieran too— go on and on about girls. So I stay close to him. Real close. I can feel his loneliness, but he knows I’m right there.