“Eight … nine … ten …
“Here I come ready or not,” I called out as loud as I could from the upstairs bathroom. Slowly, I crept around the corner and into Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom. I dropped to my tummy and peered under the bed.
“No cats here,” I murmured quietly, before returning to my feet and moving along to search the two closets at the other end of the room, which both also turned up clear of cats. I decided to give up on this room for now and moved across the hallway to Mommy’s office. This would be an easy room to search, after all, it was pretty empty, except for Mommy’s desk, the bench we sit on in front of the window, the cat tree and a couple of cat beds. After a quick scan I was able to deduce that they were all empty. I began to head for the stairs, then remembered the closet. I poked my head around the corner only to discover that the doors to the walk in were closed. I ran the scenario’s through my head and came to the conclusion that the cats were not capable of opening or closing the closet doors.
“No, definitely no cats in here either.”
I slithered stealthily down the staircase and tip toed into the living room. This looked like the most likely spot, owing to the fact that there were sofas and tables and cabinets and plenty of other perfectly good places to stash a cat. Just like I did in the bedroom, I got down on my belly to look under the loveseat. There was nobody there, but out of the corner of my eye I spotted Yehudi sitting inside one of the cubes on the television stand pretending to be a statue of a black cat. This would have been a great idea, except we have no statues of black cats, white cats or any other color cats.
“Rats, nobody under here,” I said quietly, yet loud enough for Yehudi to hear. This was all part of my master plan. I walked across the room, strolling right past her, but making sure that I didn’t reveal my knowledge of her presence, choosing instead to stop in front of a table that is positioned underneath the living room window. From here I was close enough to Yehudi that I could almost slap her in the face with my tail if I judged that was my best course of action. Instead, I lowered myself onto my front legs and inspected the area under the table.
“Well, where could they be?” I wondered aloud. Then in one fell swoop, I flung my body into the air and did a complete one eighty, landing on my feet, and face to face with a stunned black kitty. I reached out my paw and gently tapped her on her soft furry forehead.
“Wow, you are so good at hide and seek,” she squeaked in a New York accent, that had a distinct Queens dialect to it.
“Just lucky I guess,” I giggled.
Bella dragged her slightly curvy grey and white body out from under the bigger sofa and gracefully glided over to the full-length mirror that stood on the inside of the downstairs bathroom door. She stared at her reflection for a few moments to make sure everything was in place.
“I am so happy that I wasn’t the one to get caught for a change.” She purred.
“That was fun,” the familiar deep raspy Cuban sounding voice came from the kitchen, followed by its owner, a large orange cat with a white stomach that swayed from side to side when he walked. He was the only boy in the house, besides Daddy that is. His name was Raposo, but we all called him by his nickname, Rapi, pronounced “hoppy”, which it turns out is kind of ideal because that is how he runs … hoppy.
“Yehudi is it,” Rapi informed everyone. We all turned and began the march towards the staircase and the climb up towards the bathroom where the game always starts.
We had just reached the bottom of the stairs and were looking up at the climb that awaited us when …
The doorbell rang. Bella and Yehudi scattered and I leapt into the air, startled by the sound. Friends, this does not happen to me very often, but when it does, I feel embarrassed. It is as though I failed my dogly duties, and I don’t like it!
“The door, the door, somebody is at the door,” I sprung into action and began to bark out the warning to the entire house. Rapi ran to the window to peek outside while I was letting Mommy know we had visitors.
“It’s the delivery driver with a package,” Rapi exclaimed from his perch on the windowsill. Mommy came whizzing down the stairs.
“Delivery guy,” I relayed the message to her.
“Good girl,” she said rewarding me for a job well done with a pat on the head. I plopped my butt on the ground and puffed my chest out behind her. Rapi looked over at me and saw the smile covering my face from one cheek to the other, and he winked at me.
The delivery driver was kind of young and muscular with shoulder length brown hair. He was clean shaven, and it wasn’t until he glanced over at me and smiled that I noticed his piercing blue eyes.
“Have a nice day,” he said handing Mommy the package.
“Bye sweetie,” he said to me with a nod of the head. I watched out the window with Rapi until the delivery guy was in his truck and on his way.
“Huh,” Mommy said, placing the package on the table next to where Rapi was sitting.
“Hey, this is for you,” Rapi said reading the label on the box.
“Me? Really?” I asked, surprised that I would get something. I mean, nobody ever sends me anything,
“See, look right here,” he nodded for me to look. I thoroughly examined the label, and it had my name and address on it.
“Let’s open it,” I barked at Mommy.
“Not right now, Cindee! We have to wait for Daddy to get home from work,” she said with a laugh and a scratch behind my ears.
“Please,” I begged.
“Nope, you gotta wait,” she answered me before turning and climbing the stairs to her office.
A golden light illuminated the box.
It sat there on the table. The box itself was an in descript brown. There was nothing on it indicating the name of the store that it came from, if indeed it had come from a store. As it sat there it looked like a spotlight from heaven was shining down on it, but then I realized it was just shafts of rich sunlight filtering in through the window.
“What do you think it is,” Rapi asked, proving the old adage about curiosity and cats to be true.
“I have no idea,” my voice betrayed the wonder I was experiencing.
“Where do you think it came from,” the orange cat wondered aloud as he circled the brown package, inspecting it from every possible angle.
“Gosh Rapi, it could have come from anywhere,” the realization began to enter my mind for the first time. It could be anything that came from anywhere.
“Do you think it could be cookies?” I asked, hopeful that my guess was right. Rapi walked around the box examining it some more, looking for markings and checking out its dimensions.
“I can’t tell just by looking at it,” he said.
“If it is a cookie, it must be a super huge one, or maybe a hundred regular sized ones,” he managed to calculate in his little head. My mouth began to water thinking about all those cookies.
“Oh, how can we tell,” I was so frustrated by not knowing.
“Why don’t you try to sniff it and see if you smell cookie,” he asked.
“You might even be able to tell what kind they are,” he added.
Rapi can be so intelligent, and this was another brilliant idea. Of course, I could tell if there were cookies. I could tell, what kind, how big and how many with just one whiff. I stood up and strode confidently over to the box. I had this. This was it, I was about to get my answer. With my nose firmly against the package I took a deep inhale in.
A sneeze exploded from me before I even had a chance to get a scent. Achoo! The darn box was covered in dust and now those little dust critters where inside my nose with their little feathers tickling the back of my snoot. Achoo!
“Bless you!” Rapi responded automatically, but sincerely.
“There is … achoo … dust on the box,” I explained to Rapi through watery eyes.
“Sorry Cindee, I didn’t think about the dust,” the cat confessed.
“It’s okay, I just need to clear my head for a minute,” I said walking away from the box with my head held low in defeat.
I sat down in front of the big glass doors in the dining room and stared outside. Splat! I looked at the fresh mark on the window. Splat, splat! Then the skies opened and water began to pour from the thick grey clouds overhead. I let out a sigh. It wasn’t necessarily a bad sigh. I love a rainy day, especially when I am stuck in the house. I should say, I love it as long as there is no thunder with it. The sound of the rain is so soothing.
The box in the living room with my name on it slowly crept back into my thoughts. Now my curiosity had gone beyond what was in the box. Who would send me a box and why? It is only August, and my birthday is in December, so it can’t be a birthday present, I reasoned. It’s not my anniversary present because I came to my forever home in February. There didn’t seem to be anything special about today.
“Are you feeling better,” Rapi’s voice came from behind me.
“Yeah, just thinking about the box,” I answered, turning to face him.
“Maybe we should just try to forget about it until Daddy gets home,” he was ready to throw in the towel already.
“No way,” I shouted rising to my feet.
I looked around the room and spotted the dish towel hanging from the stove. Quickly, I ran over and pulled it free and dashed to the dining room with Rapi in tow behind me. I tossed the cloth on top of the box.
“Can you rub it around to get the dust off,” I asked Rapi.
“I sure can,” he said with a smile. And just like that we were in business again.
“Do you smell cookie?” Rapi asked, unable to contain himself any longer.
“Just a second,” I answered him and put my nose back to work as a detective, in hopes of finding out what is in the box.
“Hmmmm,” I huffed out a burst of air.
“Well,” Rapi asked, determined to get an answer this time.
“It smelled like … “Rapi hung on my every word, his eyes widening in anticipation.
“It smelled like a cardboard box,” the disappointment in my voice was unmistakable.
“Oh,” all the hope and enthusiasm drained out of his body with one word.
“We tried,” he added.
We had tried, that was true, however, I was not ready to give up just yet. Now it was my turn to walk around the package and hover over it, examining it in any way that I could.
“I have an idea,” I barked.
Rapi’s ears perked up and he sat at attention, waiting to hear my grand plan.
“We can push it off the table and see what kind of sound it makes!”
“Bad idea,” he grumbled and shook his head.
“Why?” I questioned, hoping he was just being pessimistic.
“Because, if it is something breakable inside and you smash it, Mommy and Daddy will be angry at you,” he warned.
I didn’t want to dismiss what Rapi was telling me out of hand, so I thought about it for a few minutes. He was right, Mommy and Daddy would be angry if I broke something, especially if we hadn’t even taken it out of the box.
“Your right Rapi,” I conceded.
“They would be angry with me. But they will also forgive me,” I reminded him.
“They will,” he agreed.
“Still, I don’t want any part in this,” he said emphatically and left me there all alone with the box.
I wanted to cry.
It is so hard when you have a difficult decision to make. It is always easier if you have the support of family and friends, but this time I was on my own. Who am I kidding, this decision wasn’t hard to make at all.
I strode over to the box and put my nose up against it. I gave it a little push, and it moved relatively easily. I looked up at Rapi who was watching me disapprovingly from the loveseat across the room. I raised my eyebrow and smiled at him. He responded by turning his back on me.
Completely abandoned by my friend and torn between right or wrong, I did what any good dog would do. I put my nose to the box and gave it one good push. It slid to the edge of the table and teetered there for a minute before finally toppling over the edge and landing on the floor. A corner of the box hit first, causing it to go into a tumbling roll across the living room floor. I held my breath and prayed it would stop. It seemed to go on forever, and when the box finally did cometo a rest, I let out a deep breath and was finally able to breath again.
“That was awesome,” Rapi’s deep rumbling voice came from across the room. He happed down off the love seat and met me at the box. I knew he wouldn’t abandon me.
We both examined the box thoroughly. There was a dent here and a dent there from the tumble, but no other damage. Even more telling was that there was no rattling sound when it was rolling, and even better, no breaking sound when it hit the floor.
“Well, that was a bust,” I huffed disgustedly before turning and walking away from the box.
“I hope it wasn’t cookies,” Rapi added.
I hung my head. That was a dumb thing I just did. If that was a box a cookies, now it is just a box of dusty old crumbs. I plopped down on the floor and stared out the window. Rapi came and laid down next to me.
“You okay Cindee?” he asked.
“Yeah, I am okay, just disappointment,” I confessed.
“It’s okay, we won’t have to wait much longer to find out what’s in the box. Daddy will be home soon,” he said cheerily.
The rain had slowed down to a drizzle and the sun had begun to peek out from behind the clouds.
“No Rapi, I am disappointment in me,” I clarified.
“Why do I let myself get so wrapped up in things. Why do I do things I shouldn’t?”
The orange cat gazed into my eyes thoughtfully, considering the right words to say for the moment.
“I think we all let that happen to us Cindee. I think it is just part of life,” he answered before turning his attention to his paws and how they needed a good cleaning.
I thought about what Rapi had just said, and it made sense, but why does it have to be part of life? Why do we have to let that devious part of us out? The more I thought about it, the more I began to think that I would never know the answer to that question. Just then, the front door opened, and Daddy stood in the doorway.
I sounded the alarm!
“Daddy is home, Daddy is home,” I barked as loud as I could, then took off at a sprint to the door to greet him. Sure, he is goofy, funny looking and farts a lot, but he is my goofy funny looking farting Daddy! He greeted me with kisses on the nose and a great big hug, and Rapi, well Rapi got picked up and cuddled for a minute.
“What’s this,” Daddy asked, spotting the beaten-up box on the floor. He picked it up and turned it over and examined it.
“Hi Anjo,” Mommy said before hugging Daddy.
“A package for Cindee?” he asked Mommy.
“I know, I was surprised too,” she said.
“Cindee is super excited, she has been trying to figure out what’s inside that package all day,” Mommy added with a wink at me.
How does she know these things? I wonder if she has some spies that tell her everything that I do.
“Well, let’s see what it is,” Daddy said, using his keys to slice through the tape on the top of the box. The flaps began to bob up and down. He didn’t open it though, he just looked at me and stroked the top of my head.
“What is it girlee,” he asked excitedly. I hesitated for a moment, not sure if I deserved a gift.
“Open it,” Rapi yelled, his big body jumping up and down and dancing around me.
Slowly, I walked over to the box and nudged one of the flaps open, then the other. I reached inside and pulled out a big brown teddy bear who was clutching a red heart in his arms, and on the heart, were written the letters “XOXO”
I took the bear and jumped up on the couch where I cradled it in my arms.
“Hey look Cindee, there’s a note in here too,” Daddy said waving the paper in the air.
“It says … ‘Think of me as this bear, holding my heart out to you with love, XOXO Lucas’”
A little tear drop escaped from my eye and ran down my cheek. It wasn’t just because of the gift that Lucas, my new boyfriend, had given me, it was because I was the luckiest girlie in the world. I looked at all the faces around me, and knew I was truly loved.