The cat stepped around the bedroom door, whiskers out. Cats see more in the dark than humans can, and this cat could see something was amiss. She never went without treats before bedtime, and yet she had had none this evening. Furthermore, her people — Yellow-Fur, the bigger one with fur on his legs, and Warm-Lap, the one with a high voice and soft hands — had made a great deal of noise at each other, something they knew she did not enjoy. This was odd.
She knew her priorities. The treat bag was kept on the small table next to the big bed. She got her treats every night. Yellow-Fur and Warm-Lap knew this, and yet tonight they chose to ignore it. Oh well — nothing to be done but to hop up on the bed and get them herself.
She was just in reach of the bag when a form moved beside her, and the voice of Warm-Lap, huskier than usual, intoned “Not now, kitty.” A hand gently pushed her away from the bag of treats and she jumped to the floor. This would absolutely never do. First all that loudness earlier, and now, no treats? She meowed but got only a hiccup as reply.
Perhaps Yellow-Fur would be more useful. She circled around the bed, sniffing the edge of the covers on the opposite side. They smelled of him, but he was not there. Her ears rotated in the direction of the living room, a slight snuffling noise catching her attention.
She padded over and hopped up on the couch. The blanket was warm; he was under it. Odd place to find him, but she could at least try her luck. She meowed and heard a soft intake of breath.
His hand came to rest on her back, and her fur rippled. She slid out from under his touch — this was treat time, not petting time — and heard his sigh, rattling and thin. This wasn’t working either. This was all wrong.
She sat on the carpet and licked her front paws slowly. What to do? Sometimes, Yellow-Fur liked to be in the living room, staring at the shiny box at the same time Warm-Lap was in the big bed looking at the crinkly paper, and she could not supervise them both. She had discovered that if she sat in one particular corner of the carpet, right there, she could see into both rooms at once. Eyes wide and bright as the moon, she glided to that spot and sat down. Her gaze rested first on Yellow-Fur, making funny growly sounds on the couch, and then on Warm-Lap, who lay hugging her pillow in the bed.
Both Yellow-Fur and Warm-Lap sat up straight, blinking. Both called out, “Kitty?” Warm-Lap added, “Are you okay?” Neither, however, moved. Flicking one ear, she tried again.
This time both stood up and fumbled toward her. She could never understand why they looked so funny at night, why they blinked so much and held out their paws at such funny angles. She assumed it was because they had very short whiskers.
Yellow-Fur reached her first. “Kitty, what’s the matter?” He reached down to pick her up just as Warm-Lap rounded the corner. The cat leaned against Yellow-Fur’s shoulder, her purrs the only sound in the room for several moments.
She brushed her cheek against Yellow-Fur’s neck, once, twice, three times. Finally she heard Warm-Lap. “Is she okay?”
Yellow-Fur spoke heavily, his voice resonating through her fur. “I think she just wanted some attention.”
She turned to face Warm-Lap, who was reaching out to her. She felt Yellow-Fur go suddenly tense — was there a predator about? — and she felt Warm-Lap’s hand on her fur. She leaned into it, purring louder.
“What a good kitty.”
“Yes, she is.”
“You think she saw something in the dark?”
Yellow-Fur’s voice changed a bit, got deeper. “What could she have seen?”
Warm-Lap pulled her hand away. “I don’t know. A bug or something. You know she sees better than we do.” Warm-Lap’s voice was taking on the husky quality again. “I — I guess I’ll go back to bed.” She turned and made for the bedroom.
No! If they separated again there’d be no chance at treats. The cat squirmed her way out of Yellow-Fur’s arms and shot into the bedroom.
She was standing on the bed, next to her bag of treats, when the brightness from above lit up the room. All three blinked in the light, Yellow-Fur rubbing his eyes.
“What the heck is she doing?”
Warm-Lap suddenly smiled. “We forgot to give her treats, didn’t we?”
Yellow-Fur blinked some more, this time in Warm-Lap’s direction, but Warm-Lap wasn’t looking. Instead — at last! — she reached for the treats. “I’m sorry, Kitty, did I forget you tonight?”
Ah, wonderful tasty treats. The cat gobbled them hungrily; Warm-Lap giggled. “You’re such a smart kitty, you knew exactly what to do.”
Yellow-Fur watched Warm-Lap, and he started to smile too. “She did, sweetie, she did.” Yellow-Fur rested his head on Warm-Lap’s shoulder; the cat could recognize this, he was scent-marking her, just like the cat had done to him a moment ago. “She definitely knew.”
The cat was finishing her last treat when she felt water dropping from above. She bristled her fur and stepped back. That was weird — the water was coming from Warm-Lap. A few more drops of water fell. Warm-Lap made some squeaky noises and buried her face in Yellow-Fur’s whiskers, mumbling something the cat could not hear. Yellow-Fur purred something in reply. This was good. They were finally making sense.
The cat, now satiated, made her way out of the bedroom, picking her way carefully through the darkness. She had gotten what she wanted.
Amanda D’Avria is a fledgling writer from Staten Island, NY. When she doesn’t have her nose planted firmly in an open MS Word document, she relaxes with her husband, works hard as an office manager, and is thoroughly bossed-around by her cat.