“I hate this place!”
Why shouldn’t I? The first day in this new home turned out to be a drab and overcast one. Ironically, that’s the way the landscape of my life was looking as well. This was anything but a delightful feeling.
That first evening had been relatively uneventful and my night, well, it was filled with a cold and restless slumber. Dark storm clouds had rolled in over the lake a little past midnight, then began dropping bucket after bucket of rain on the roof.
It wasn’t all bad. I did have the good fortune of Mommy spooning me for most of it. Still, things were out of sorts without the warmth of my best friend curling up tight against my body. It was like missing a paw. I was starting to realize that there are people in our life that we get so comfortable with, that we begin to take them for granted. You just expect that they will always be there with you, and then when they are not, you have this void inside you. It is almost like someone hooked a vacuum cleaner up to you and sucked up what little life is left inside.
I awoke to the smell of hashbrowns and fake bacon dancing on the tip of my nose. I had consumed too many servings of guilt overnight and there was no room for anything else in my tummy.
Time too had started to creep along without that big old tabby traipsing around behind me everywhere I went. Boredom was becoming a major hurdle for me to face.
Alone and with nothing to do, I decided to lounge around on the front porch, but quickly discovered that people-watching is only interesting if you have people to watch. It seems everyone on our quaint little street had already taken their dogs for a walk and were already off to work.
“Humpf! Next stop, the overgrown backyard,” my voice cut through the air to … well, nobody, I guess.
An unusual sense of adventurousness took me by surprise and soon I found myself on my feet and padding towards the edge of the porch where I stuck my nose between the wooden spindles, closed my eyes, and sucked in a deep breath through my nostrils. The sweet, yet the subtle floral scent of hydrangeas, engulfed me. For the first time since arriving the tension in my legs and back eased a little.
“Mmmmm, I love these hydrangeas. They are my favorite flower you know.”
That was what Mommy had said as we walked up the driveway together for the first time, and now those words were haunting me in a way. The smile on her face was fantastic. It had been so long since I had seen her that happy. The last few months in New York had been difficult ones for her. It seemed like all she did was argue with her fiancé, Nate, and then lock herself in her room and cry afterward.
My butt dropped to the porch and my head sunk below my shoulder blades. I clamped my eyelids shut and fought back against the burning sensations.
“I’m a jerk!”
Seeing her tears in my mind’s eye and hearing the defeat in her voice, was more than I could handle. I was starting to get why Rapi was so upset by the whole Mrs. Landers fiasco.
“I would have betrayed Mommy.”
I took another whiff of the flowers and let the scent eat away at my burden.
“Why do you have to be such a stupid dog?” I scolded myself.
I wanted so much to be a better, more kind soul, but I just didn’t want it to be here.
“I can do this,” I said, resolving to be more positive.
My lips curled into a smile and my eyes opened to the vision of the gorgeous flowers staring back at me. Newly invigorated, I turned from the floral arrangement and started across the wooden deck, each step forward was met with a creak or groan.
My stroll along the porch was quickly interrupted by a glimmer of light that shimmered from between two floorboards. My eyes grew wide with wonder, sending my curiosity into overdrive.
“What could you be?”
A sharp course deviation led me directly to the spot, where I puzzled over the object for a moment or two. What kind of treasure could it be? Is it a key to a treasure chest filled with cookies? Could it be a bar of gold? Any number of wild and exotic thoughts rushed into my mind.
“What could you be?” I asked again.
I leaned in to get a better look, then stood straight again. My head instinctively cocked to the left and I began an intricate dance around the object until I had made a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree circle around it. At last, I stooped down to examine my shiny new find more closely. To my surprise, It turned out it was only sunlight reflecting off a silver chain.
“Hmmm, interesting. I wonder what’s on the other end,” I mumbled under my breath, now, more intrigued than ever.
My muscles were on fire with anticipation. I was about to try and extract God only knows what when I felt a sudden chill run down my back. It was that sensation you get when someone is secretly watching you. It was more than being watched, no, it was as if danger were gnawing on each one of my nerves.
Cautiously, I glanced over my shoulder and caught sight of Mommy looking down at me from the bedroom window. I smiled at her and then started to turn back towards my treasure. Before I even had a chance to get my head around again, I was startled by an incessant tapping noise.
The fur on my back stood on end. Scared to death, I spun to face the sound and came face to face with …
It was her fingernails clicking on the big picture window in the living room while standing there making goofy faces at me. I felt a giggle start to bubble up from that happy place inside of me. It rose higher and higher until at last, it spilled out past my lips.
“That Mommy,” I said while glancing up at the bedroom window and then back at her.
She blew me a kiss and then turned to walk away. Something didn’t seem right, but then, right now nothing was as it should be.
“She is faster than I thought,” I said, shaking my head.
With that mystery solved, I turned my attention back to the chain. I was done fooling around, so, I leaned down and clutched the strand of metal between my teeth and began to tug on it. It put up a bigger struggle than I thought it would. I pulled, I tugged, I growled and I pulled again until it sprang free. Once it had been liberated, I dropped it on the ground and then stared at it.
Over the course of a couple of rapid heartbeats, my insides were once again filled with disappointment and discontentment.
“Nothing exciting ever happens to me,” I grumbled, directing my displeasure at the cylindrical object that was now laying at my feet.
“Yehudi is going to want this, though” I mumbled aloud then picked up the laser pointer.
The feline’s features started to form: mossy green eyes, a pink nose, long white whiskers that are all askew, and an unmistakable New York accent.
The cat’s name rolled off my tongue. This rollercoaster ride continued, only now, it was the thrill of climbing the track. Hope was starting to surround me everyplace I looked. An idea had begun to form, and I liked where it was going. Excited by the possibilities, I turned and raced for the pet door.
“I will go hang out with …”
The door swung open, and I stumbled into the foyer. Sitting next to Rapi on one of the green chars sat a young, slender, tuxedo cat, her face nothing but smiles.
The little black feline swung her head in my direction at the sound of her name. Her eyes lit up expectantly. It wasn’t every day that she was sought out, and today of all days, two friends were calling on her.
All that hope that had filled me mere seconds ago came rushing out of me like a balloon that had just been pierced with a needle. I didn’t say anything. The truth is, I didn’t know what to say. My silence, however, had drawn Rapi’s attention.
The two cats didn’t move. Instead, they fixed their gaze on me, waiting for me to finish my sentence. Their eyes were like cold laser beams burning a hole through my flesh and into my stomach. It was all I could do to stand there, speechless, looking like a fool. My tongue had long since dried out and swollen to three times its normal size. Inside my chest, my heart was thundering, demanding to be free from my body. At that moment, I wished it would have abandoned me and left me to die.
The only answer I had for their questioning eyes was a shoulder shrug. My head sagged and I did my very best to slink away, wishing that I could be invisible but knowing I couldn’t.
© Copyright 2023 H. Scott Moore