“Good morning,” the big orange cat purred, his voice fading away into a yawn.
He hopped from the ground up onto the bed, setting the mattress rumbling beneath me. You think I would be used to it by now, but nope, the way he shakes the bed still catches me off guard, leaving me on the verge of feeling sea-sick before the movement stills itself.
“Morning.” Those first words of the day never seem to come out right, and the voice most definitely doesn’t sound like mine, but it is.
I looked on while he circled around and plopped down next to my big brown body. The cat leaned over and began to cover me with kisses. That rough tongue lapping at my floppy brown ears felt like heaven. My eyes began to grow heavy, and I could sense that I would be journeying back to dreamland. No sooner had my eyes closed, the smoochfest had come to an end.
“How was your evening with Luna?” Rapi had taken to spending his overnight hours by sneaking out into the backyard so he could sit with his new girlfriend and listen to her serenade the moon.
“It was incredible!”
I must admit, I loved seeing this new Rapi, the big orange cat who had finally found love. Though I am a dog, I can still appreciate the love that two cats share, and while I wouldn’t spend my night sitting in a tree branch screeching at the moon, if it made my best friend happy, then it made me happy.
“How was your night?” Another yawn, and his voice fading away.
“You know, something strange has been happening since you stopped spending the night with us.” Maybe strange wasn’t quite the word I wanted. I thought for a moment then barked out “Not strange, disturbing!”
Rapi raised his head to look at me. His face was contorted into a half scowl.
“What’s going on?” His yellow-green eyes locked onto mine. This felt different. He was different. Somehow, he seemed more mature.
“What’s that grey cat doing now,” he said, cutting me off mid-sentence.
“Well, not just Bella, it’s Mommy and Daddy too.” Now he was alert, and his demeanor had shifted from joy to concern.
“It’s nothing really. It’s just me being silly. I shouldn’t have bothered you with this Rapi.” I meant what I was saying. For all I knew this could have all been in my head. I mean I have manufactured my own version of the truth in my head before.
“Tell me,” he demanded.
“it’s just that the last few nights Bella has been taking more and more of the middle.” Now that I heard myself, I realized that I probably was just overreacting.
“Why that stinky fink,” he grumbled.
“And last night Mommy called Bella to the middle.” The words spilled out and startled the big orange cat. His mouth dropped open and he stared at me dumbfounded for a moment before regaining his composure.
“Don’t worry about it Cindee, you are reading more into this than there is.” He sounded confident. I thought about it for a moment. I have been in the middle ever since my first day in the house.
“Everyone knows the middle is mine,” the words unconsciously escaped my lips. The orange cat looked up at me with a knowing smile.
“That’s more like it. That’s the Cindee I know and love.”
“You are right Rapi. I am being silly.”
Where are Mommy and Daddy?” the cat asked.
“Shopping. I hope they remember to bring us some yummy treats.”
Together they giggled, then settled in for a midafternoon nap.
A crash at the front door startled me awake. Being the good guard dog that I am, I sat upright in the bed and howled at the top of my lungs.
Once the alarm had been sounded, I dove under the covers and held my breath. Okay, Okay, so I stretched the truth a little about being a guard dog. We all do it, don’t we? From my safe spot under the sheets, I could hear the floorboards in the living room begin to creak and moan. A sudden searing pain shot through my buttocks. I had been stabbed by what felt like a hunting knife. I swear I did everything I could to contain it but failed. A high-pitched scream rushed out of my mouth and into the night air.
“Shhhhhh, will you be quiet,” the thick Cuban accent belonging to a rather chubby orange cat cut through the darkness.
“Why are you screaming,” his eyes glowed at me from under the blackness of the covers.
“I have been stabbed,” my voice coming in ragged gasps. I could feel my life flowing out of me with each passing moment.
“That was just my nail. I accidentally poked you climbing under the covers!” I didn’t have to see his face; the tone of his voice told the whole story. He was agitated. I on the other hand was relieved that I was not dying.
“There is somebody downstairs, you are the dog, it’s your job to go and see what’s happening.”
I knew he was right, but I really didn’t feel like I was cut out for that sort of work. I was just about to hunker back down under my blanket when another rattling noise wafted up from the floor below.
“Really? Fine, but could you at least come with me?” That is the thing about Rapi. He is one of the biggest scaredy cats I know, but he always comes through in a pinch.
“Of course, I would come with you,” I answered, letting the felines bravery lull me into a sense of security for a moment. Sadly, that moment wore off for me before we were even halfway down the stairs.
“It’s a thief,” the orange cat whispered, pointing to a shadowy figure peering into our kitchen cupboards.
“What are we going to do,” I gulped. My insides were shaking like a bowl full of lime jello and it felt like they were going to spill out any second now.
The thief turned and looked at us, his eyes glowing in the darkness like two green demon eyes. They bored into me and held me in place with their magic.
“Hey!” His voice seemed awfully familiar, but I couldn’t quite pin it down. I still couldn’t make out any features though.
“Hey, we are home!” Now I was confused. The intruders voice changed from a deep manly voice to a soft female voice. What the heck is going on here.
“Wake up sleep head, we are back from the store and look what we bought you!”
“Stupid dream!” The words tumbled out in a grumble while I was trying to get my eyelids to open, but they didn’t want to work. At last, they fluttered a little bit, letting some bright sunlight in to blind me. How horrible this waking up thing is.
After a couple of tries, I found success, but now I had to deal with the blurry vision. I wish I knew what they bought me, and whatever it is, it better be worth the trouble I am going through.
I paused to think for a second, then realized whether I liked my gift or not, Mommy and Daddy had saved me from that terrible dream, and that in itself was a wonderful present.
“Look!” Mommy dragged a big mattress in through the door and set it on the bed next to me. I took one look at it and was not impressed.
“It’s a bed just for you. Feel this!” Her voice sounded so excited; I couldn’t resist. I forced myself up onto my feet, took a couple of steps and collapsed onto the thing. I am not gonna lie. It was pretty nice. The mattress itself wasn’t too hard and it wasn’t too soft. It was kind of like that Goldilocks story, it was just right. It was even more barkolicious because the top was covered in sheepskin. I thought I had died and went to heaven.
It was big enough that Rapi was able to curl up with me, and together we watched Daddy bring in all kinds of lumber and pile it up on the floor.
“Well, we have plenty of time,” Rapi said with a giggle. A quick glance in Daddy’s direction found him studying a map on how to build whatever it was he was going to build.
“Yep, your right!”
“So, do you know what is going on here?” The orange cat looked on with interest, his tail flipping and curling unconsciously.
“I have not got a clue,” I admitted, curious myself to find out what these two humans were up to. Daddy plugged his old-fashioned power drill into the socket and began to drive screws into the wood.
Rapi and I looked at each other.
“Too much noise?” I could tell just by looking into my friend’s eyes what he was thinking. I nodded, not needing words to answer his question. With that unspoken agreement we gave up the heavenly comfort of the new bed and moved downstairs where we found Mommy watching an old re-run of Grey’s Anatomy. It was the one where Christina Ricci had her arm buried elbow deep inside of some guy to keep him from blowing up. It was riveting must see television, and both Rapi and I were happy that we were seeing it.
It ended up being a two parter. Daddy had taken a break in the middle for dinner, then went back up to work on it some more while the three of us went back to watching the show. It was important to see if the stupid guy was going to explode or not. Riveting.
By the time our television show was over, the sun had descended for the day, revealing a bright moon and a sky filled with stars. A tapping noise had begun to form in the dining room. I was just about to send out the alert when I saw Rapi spring to his feet and scamper off towards the door.
“Say hello to Luna for me!”
“I will!” He called back over his shoulder, not bothering to stop.
I looked at my friend as he trotted away and could help but notice that his belly didn’t seem to sway that way that it used to, and for the briefest of moment I thought that maybe he was losing some weight. Love can do that to you. You know, love causes you to become the best version of yourself. Not just in the way you look either, but in the way you think and behave. I was seeing all this happening to my friend Rapi.
He came to a halt at the big sliding glass doors and turned to look at me. His face sent another one of those wordless messages, and the message was … help!
I hopped down and raced over to him at the realization that he needed my assistance to open the door a crack so that he could escape, and I was happy to oblige.
“See you in the morning Rapi!”
“Have a good night Cindee!”
With those five words, he was off and trying to scamper up to the tree branch to be with Luna, her white silhouette glowing under the moonlight. I smiled and turned around to see Daddy waiting for me at the front door with my leash and necklace.
“Time to go out and head up to bed.” It was the coaxing voice that could make me do just about anything. I hate that voice. Not really, I love it!
Back inside, I surveyed the house to make sure everything was as it should be. Unable to resist, I had to stop for a minute to peer out the big glass doors at Rapi and Luna in the backyard. The sight of the two of them together always makes me smile. Satisfied that everything was in order I headed up the stairs.
Like always, I bounded into the bedroom and was about to hop into bed and snuggle up in the middle when I saw it. My mouth dropped open and my heart sank. The monstrous thing stood on Mommy’s side near the headboard.
“Look Cindee! It’s your own bed!” She cooed happily, though what she was happy about I am not sure. I didn’t want my own bed. I didn’t ask for it. I just want the middle between my two humans. I smiled my best fake smile, but inside it felt like all the air had been sucked out of me. All my energy and joy … gone. I slunk across the mattress and climbed into the contraption doing my best to get comfortable and look like I was enjoying it.
The lights were turned out and everybody snuggled into the covers. All I could do was longingly stare at the empty spot in the middle that used to be my place. That’s when Mommy stabbed me in the heart with a dagger.
“Bella? Bella girl?” The words came in a sing song voice. It was like the pied piper playing a tune for his rats, and just like that story, a rat came out. Not a real rat. No this was worse than a real rat, it was a traitorous grey and white cat named Bella who was nothing more that a bed stealing rat! That kind of rat.
I looked on in horror as the cat climbed over Daddy and curled up in the middle … in my spot. A mixture of anger and hurt coursed through my body, keeping me up long after my humans had floated off into dreamland.
The room was filled with nothing but darkness and the sounds of Daddy’s snoring and Mommy’s heavy breathing. Slowly, Bella’s head rose to peek over at me. No doubt she intended to gloat.
“Psssst! Cindee? Cindee are you awake?” the grey and white cat whispered quietly.
“What do you want.” My words sounded harsher that I had intended. The cat either didn’t notice or was used to my talking to her like this, I am not sure which.
“I was just thinking, there is a lot of room here in the middle. Do you want to come over and sleep with us?” The words shocked me. My nemesis making an offer like this. Surely it was a trap, right?
I could see by the look in her eyes and the smile on her face that it was a genuine offer. The bed trembled a little under my weight and I did my best to tip toe over to my old spot when Mommy stirred. I stood still, holding my breath while she stretched, shifted position, and fell back into a deep sleep.
“Thank you, Bella.” The words quietly floated over to the cat who was now cuddled up next to me.
“You are welcome Cindee.”
I thought about all that had happened on this crazy day, and I realized that maybe I was the rat. I let that roll around inside my head for awhile until I couldn’t think anymore. All the events of the day began to fall away, and I began to enter a land of dreams, all was right with the world, which had faded to quiet, save for the sound of two cats singing to the moon, one of them slightly off key.