Mushi & Her Mews:  A Tail of Two Kitties

The first kitten is young and struggling with the usual growing pangs combined with unusually stressful social issues in her home.  She is a good kitten; a precious kitten, really; not crazy, just a little unwell.  She is a very playful kitten and as most, she sometimes gets a little too excited.  She can be very nice though and purr in your lap for hours if you let her.  Most people miss that part of her entirely, especially those who are closest to her.  This only compounds the issues for her.  She becomes confused as to their intent and unsure of their love.  I’m certain that she has attempted to communicate her feelings but because of past deeds and actions taken by her (the incident with the toilet paper roll comes to mind).  They listen to her mews no more.  So she was usually alone with her thoughts and was never allowed to freely play with the other kittens in the neighborhood.  This aged her mentally and this inward turn made her recluse and unreachable.  She was safe and warm there so that’s where she stayed most of the time.  She would never let anyone get in too far, too close.  The story of this tragedy is known not from this kitten’s lips alone but through her emotional aura which to some was as bright as a quasar but invisible to most. 

This night was a rare occasion for her and she was out of her cage for the evening and her leash was not tethered.  She was in eye shot though so those who loved her could also watch her closely.  She took the opportunity to explore in the moonlight.  She danced about a fallen branch and toyed with various twigs and leaves.  It was fun but soon she became bored.  Then out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of a shiny object covered slightly with the ground clutter.  It was a multi-colored ball of twine and she found it very fascinating.  Some of its threads shimmered in the moonlight and the sparkles danced about gaily.  With a quick paw she batted at the ball but it refused to move.  One more swat caused it to teeter but nothing else.  She was very discerned and so she reared back and pounced!  It was almost as big as she was but she held on and finally it began to roll with her attached.  Catching her balance, she let go and the ball rolled away.  She chased after it!

It came to a stop and she reared to pounce again.  The game was on!  Then she saw the paws; the place where the ball had stopped.  One paw was raised slowly and settled on top of the ball.  It was smooth and black and looked very powerful.  She meekly looked up at the owner of the paws.  His eyes were bluer than blue and in them she just melted.  This was the second kitty.

Now this kitten was very similar to the first.  He was much older and had been docile for countless years.  Of late, he would on occasion venture out to play in the moonlight.  Tonight he was mewing sweetly and quietly to himself.  He would never venture too far from home though because he too could become overly excited and cause troubles on the home front.  Like the first, he had social issues which he had overcome for the most part.  Other kittens, however, rarely understood his actions and usually feared him and kept their distance.  He knew this and like the first, he remained alone with his thoughts.  Casually he was known as that quiet one over in the corner that wouldn’t harm a mouse.  They all knew of him but few really knew who he was inside.  No one got inside his inner realm because no one understood this world.  He knew that.

The black cat now rolled the ball back and forth causing it to sparkle sporadically in the dim light and she watched curiously.  A warm smile grew across his face as he gently tossed the ball over by an isolated tree.  She immediately darted after it, jumping up and pouncing again!  She fell head over heals and tumbled into the darkness.  His smile turned to laughter as he watched his new found friend play.  She seemed so happy to play with his simple ball of twine.

The ball happened at his feet again and she was there next to it.  Then their eyes met they never broke stare.  Each gazed deeply into the other for what seemed hours and hundreds of miles.  There were no words exchanged but he quietly mewed and purred at the moon above them and she silently listened.  There was no need for words because these two had shared emotions on a different level.  They shared a common tail!  When she wagged it, he felt its gentle tug.

Now, the first kitty was so happy.  She had made a new friend and she’d hoped that the ball…  Well, she wanted to take it home with her.  She knew that it was his and she’d have to ask though.  Being a bit nervous, she prayed that he would be kind to her and slowly approached him.  She stopped.  ‘He had to be’, she thought, ‘He was somehow different than the rest…’  And indeed he was because she was granted her gift of the new shiny ball! 

Now she walked proudly with her new ball always in sight.  She played with it as often as she could.  Sometimes she simply sat gazing at its intricate details.  It was the greatest gift that she had ever received and she would cherish it forever.  There were yellow threads and green ones and brightly glowing blue ones.  It made her all giddy inside when she thought about it.  All she could think about was that night over and over again.  She loved her new toy but wanted desperately to play with her new friend again too.  He had been very kind to her and he made the game that much more fun.

When she was let out for the night, the little kitten mewed quite loudly and at all hours.  She could hardly be ignored by the neighboring pets and they joined her at times in a random chorus.  Some nights she mewed so loud that even the old black tom could hear her in the distance though they were miles apart.  He had heard her more than once and one night his heart burst wide open.  He followed the echoes of her cries into the dark city.  After an hour of wandering and listening he came upon a row of houses unfamiliar to him.  He waited for another mew and when she let it go he knew exactly where she was.  He walked slowly down the alley and approached her back gate.  The fence was low and chain-linked and he peered inside to find her on the back porch next to a small water dish and her new ball close at hand.

She looked sad to him but he remained silent for a while and watched carefully.  He was a wise old tom and he knew a lot about the world outside.  New things could be very exciting but they could also hold danger within.  Then he called quietly to her and her eyes lit up as big as saucers.  His voice as he spoke was calming to her and she sat and listened.  He spoke of the world and all that it had to offer.  But in the same sentence he also let her know just how uncertain and scary it was out there; how even his little visit took him through very dangerous places.  He had to avoid many different obstacles including wild dogs that had no collar or leash!  She was not frightened and she made that purrfectly clear to him.  He chuckled to himself when her gaze was averted.

Their little visits went on for weeks and each time there were quiet moments when she sat and listened with amazement while he taught her something new.  She was a great student.  She’d always been that.  She looked forward to their now nightly visits and so did he.  It became a time for them to speak freely and honestly and discuss all of their woes.  She told him about the toilet paper roll incident and he told her about some of his misadventures.  There were lessons learned almost every night and she wasn’t always the one on the receiving end.  He even learned about how tough she could be when she told him the story of the mouse in the kitchen.

One day he showed up unusually early and found that she wasn’t there.  He listened and scanned the yard to no avail.  Sullen he walked around the neighborhood and just around the corner he found her.  She was in the middle of a busy street playing with her ball!  He looked left and right and saw all of the cars racing in every direction.  Then there was the big red truck with those noisy tires and it was headed right down the street!  She noticed none of this.  He ran to her quickly and pushed her off to the side just as the truck passed.  He looked at her sternly and she knew in an instant that she had been bad.  She also felt something new as well, something she had not felt before.  It was remorse. 

He walked her back to her yard but the gate was closed.  She couldn’t remember how she had gotten out.  The old tom searched the area and saw a small tree whose branches fell over the fence.  It wouldn’t be easy but it could be done.  They walked over to the tree and he helped her up on the branch.  She teetered uneasily and looked a bit worse for wear but he assured her that she could do it.  With her new found courage she walked out to the edge that dangled high in the air.  Her eyes looked at the ground and then at him, at the ground and back.  He smiled and she turned and jumped. 

It was quite a fall but she was just fine.  He was thankful for the little things and he turned to walk away.  The little kitten sent out a whimpering little mew and he cocked his head back.  She cried out again and then he noticed that the ball, her ball was still on this side of the fence.  ‘A mentor’s work is never done’, he thought as he scraped up the ball and climbed up the tree.  He slowly nudged the ball along the branch balancing it delicately with one paw.  He had nearly slipped and fallen twice but still he continued on.  That’s when he heard the screened door slam!  He quickly darted off the branch, down the tree and down the alley.  When his breath finally caught up with him he noticed that the ball had fallen again on the wrong side of the fence.  He was saddened but he couldn’t risk returning right then.  He’d wait for the cover of night he thought.

Well, that night he did return to get the ball back on her side of the fence.  What he found was a huge block wall.  It might as well have been fifteen feet tall because it towered above all of the trees around it.  The ball was there and half buried under the loose dirt that had been moved during the wall’s construction.  He dug it out slowly and then let out a mournful mew that would penetrate any structure nearby.  She heard it of course but remained silent on her porch.  She didn’t dare let out one single peep and she knew it.

So there she sat silently as the old tom mewed.  She was back in her cage and her new toy was gone.  She could hardly believe that it was happening but it was not far from what she had expected.  Her life, as if was, had not been a bowl of cherries with ice cream on the side.  She had had her brief moment of freedom and she tried to accept it for what it was; simply ships passing in the night.  She attempted to reconcile her feelings and simply move on with her life.  This part had been abruptly ended for her and there was nothing that she could do to get it back.

This weighed heavy on her heart because now she could feel his tail wag as he mourned soulful in the lonely moonlight.  She now knew and began to understand the link that they had to one another.  It was hidden in the wisdom that he had shared with her.  Nonetheless, her paws were bound and she could do nothing to make her pangs go away; nothing that is but cry.  She was right back to where she had started before she had ever met him.  She was no better off and this made her begin to believe that it was all for naught.  It was a silly little dream of hers that could never come true.  How could it come true?  Regardless of their conversations the two kittens were still very much strangers who knew very little of the other’s true nature.

She was quite bright for her age and she had worked this out with very little help from those who loved her.  They were, in fact, of very little help when it came to this new issue of hers.  They continued with their games of degrading her and scolding her for events of the past.  She cried at night to herself wishing that it would all just go away but it was all there waiting for her when she arose the next day.  All of it including his mournful cries echoing around her house. 

And the new wall outside looked cold and uninviting to say the least.  They had painted it entirely white and some of the overspray had even discolored the trees in the yard with the same dull and unexciting bleh.  It was like a prison for her.  She could no longer see the mountains beyond the tree line or the park just down the road.  She missed the neighbor’s flowerbed that was always brightly colored.  She missed her ball, but most of all, she missed her friend…

She tried to think of the things that he’d taught her and she focused on her own future.  The little kitten knew that in time she would be free of her cage and she used this knowledge to strengthen her own determination and drive.

The old tom had been there just on the other side of the wall.  He had paced in silence all night long.  He had his own set of issues that he needed to resolve.  This whole experience had changed him as well.  It had affected him more than he had originally thought and he too missed his newly found friend dearly.  He missed her playfulness, her exuberance and her feisty little temperance when things didn’t go like she’d planned.  Out of ideas, he picked up the ball of twine and headed toward his home.

It was a slow paced walked and his head was no longer held high.  He felt as beaten as she did and exhausted from the whole ordeal.  Without even looking he crossed the busy street and walked into the open field.  He passed the pack of dogs who were barking wildly.  He paid them with less than a flicker of concern.  He didn’t even stop to say hello to the big cat on the mountain whom he had befriended years ago.  Several hours later he approached his home. 

The old tom sat at the gate and thought deeply.  This was not his home.  This was not where he belonged, where he longed to be.  You see, the old tom had been a stray taken in years ago by this family, his adopted family.  Life here had been pretty good and the meals were, well, consistent.  But he was far from being happy.  He could never be happy here, he realized.  There would always be something missing, someone missing in his life.  He now figured out that it was the other little kitten who was tugging on his tail. 

So now the black cat gathered up his own courage and set out with a new determined view that he would at the very least get the ball of twine back into the possession of its rightful owner, his new best friend; the little kitten.  It was not going to be an easy task and he knew it but he has his resources, his own friends that may lend a needed paw if he asked.

He went back to the wall and examined it closely.  It was fairly smooth but it was made of block.  He imagined that he might be able to scale it.  ‘How hard could it be?’, he thought.  So he climbed up the small tree that he had used before; up to the higher branches.  His eyes scanned for any loosen gravel and cracks that he may be able to use.  He found a small patch about half way and another to the left of that.  ‘Yeah, Yeah… This could be done’, he thought to himself.  And with that thought he leaped toward the first crevice.  The wall was hard and cold but he held on with one paw as he scrambled to get a grip with his other three.  The last thing he wanted to do was look down because he knew that he was now really high in the air.  He settled in holding as tight as he could and then looked for the second patch.

This was going to be harder than the first because he didn’t have the tree from which to push off.  Stretching out his front paw he touched the exposed edge.  He could just reach it and his extended claws now buried themselves into the concrete.  1, 2, 3!  And he swung himself over to the second loosened patch.  Now all he had to do was reach upwards to the lip of the wall.  He was already exhausted though, so he paused a moment to catch his breath.

The little kitten was awake even though her eyes were closed.  She was still kind of restless from her training.  It was hard work and usually required her undivided attention.  Not every kitten could do the things she did.  She was very special which is why her training was so important; to her and to those who loved her.  It was only her bad moments that no one liked; those moments when she would uncontrollably shred a pillow or rip up a blanket. 

She was thinking about her day and the other kittens that she had met.  This is something that she would do quite often; sit and dream of what life would be like with this one or that one or maybe that REALLY cute one over there!  It was a girl thing and she was after all, a girl.  Although she didn’t know, the little kitten was actually verbalizing her made up names, ‘Mrs. Bobby Cat.  Mrs. Simon Kitten.’ 

The list went on and the old tom could hear her mumbling the names.  He was concerned that his was no longer on her list.  Now he began to think that this was all for naught as well.  The ball, which he had been holding tightly in his teeth, was beginning to slip and unravel.  He had to make his move now or jump back to the tree.  He reached up with the nearest paw and grabbed a hold of the lip and then swung his other front paw over and lifted his head and ball over.  The ball was now on top of the wall and he dangled from its lip precariously.  He could hold on no more and so he leaped toward the tree below.  He landed on a flimsy limb that swayed horribly back and forth but he didn’t let go.  Slowly he climbed back down the tree and to the base of the wall.  There he began to sing his sad songs.  He’d hoped that it would get her attention.

The little kitten opened her eyes when she heard her lovely new teacher singing.  She didn’t see him so she thought to herself that she must be simply imagining it all.  About to close her eyes again, a shimmer of light crossed her face.  She looked up to see her ball!  Her shiny colorful playful ball!  It was him and he had brought back her most prized possession.  She had no way of reaching it there on top of the ugly wall, but it was there nonetheless for her to look at.  Her day was complete!  She smiled to herself and then fell fast asleep.

The old tom was pleased and so he let out a cheerful cry and turned down the alley toward home.  He still wanted to get the ball completely over the fence but he knew that he would not be able to do it alone.  He would have to find help.  The fact that he’d got it on top of the wall was near enough to a miracle for one evening and one tired old tom cat. 

He could not stop thinking about the little kitten and their conversations.  It pleased him that she had been so attentive to his instruction even though she did miss some of the details every now and then.  She was a quick study and eager to learn.  Her mind was like a sponge and that’s probably what he had liked the most about her.  Very few cats thought on his level and he knew that it must be as a result of her training.   He had so few close friends, but this one, he imagined, would be his friend for a very long time.

As he approached his home his thoughts turned to his situation there.  It was a living hell for him because he knew it was all a lie.  Sure the meals were regular and the house was warm.  But the company had become hollow and sometimes confrontational.  The old tom hated confrontation and so usually he’d simply choose to not ‘go there’ in order to keep the peace.  He knew in his heart that he had to leave this situation if he was ever to find happiness.  This panged him tremendously and he often stressed about it. 

Some of this he had shared with the little one, but not all.  The relationship he had built with her was based entirely on honesty and so he had never told her an untruth.  That didn’t mean they disclosed everything to each other.  He simply didn’t want to burden her with these woes; not so early in their own friendship.  This much was true and so the little one never asked the questions that he didn’t want to answer.

The next morning when she arose and the bright sun filled up her eyes, her thoughts had turned honestly to her inner being.  She had experienced a spiritual awakening and been given a new lease on life.  He had given her hope for the future and now she must start living it.  She did not know what the future held or if the old tom would ever be a part of it.  She did know that she had been training all of her life and she was about to achieve a great goal.  It was a lot of hard work and dedication spent; a lot of blood and sweat and a few tears.  But she was not about to give any of that up for anyone.  This was her highest priority she decided.  It had to be; she knew it and it was also in one of the lessons granted her from the old tom him self.  He, if anyone, had to understand.

She looked longingly at the ball so high on the wall.  It was shimmering delicately as it had always done for her.  The light felt like gentle rainbow kisses on her face and it made her think of the times that they’d spent under the moonlight.  It was all worth the price of admission even though their ride had gotten cut short.  Perhaps they’d get a chance to take a ride again some day.  But that was to be left for another day indeed.  Right now it needed to remain a pleasant memory.

And so months had past and the two kitties went about their separate lives.  There was never a day, though, that the old tom didn’t think about the little kitten and her woes.  Every once in awhile he’d even wander past her back gate and glance at the ball of twine that still lie there on top of the wall.  It was a bit weathered now but it still shimmered in moonlight.  He wondered if she ever looked at it anymore, whether she ever thought about him. 

He was very proud of her accomplishments, though.  There was talk all over the city about this talented young feline on her way to the top.  She had also matured quite gracefully into a beautiful calico icon.  She had beaus on every street corner who wooed her nightly and an entourage of fans and wannabe suck ups.  This is what she had trained to become; of what she had always dreamed it’d be.  This was life, however, at the shallow end of the pool.  In spite of her success there was still a hole; a void in her life that refused to be filled.  Deep in her heart of hearts; in the corner of her mind that seldom escaped, the corner that the old tom had found was who she really was. 

She hadn’t given a thought to the old tom in more time than she wanted to remember and inside she felt a small ache of guilt.  She never really got to know this gentleman among strays and wished that maybe she’d be graced with his company once again.  She remembered the games that they’d played together and how she would always dominate.  She thought perhaps that he was letting her at times but sometimes she even surprised him.  She was good at most everything with which he’d challenged her. 

She loved games.  Not like the ones she had to play now where there was always someone losing; where lives hung in balance.    She wanted to play those fun games that she used to play as a little kitten.  No one got hurt. 

Mushi walked down the boulevard of the city.  She was tired and alone; more than she had been in a long time.  Those that loved her were near but she seldom visited them.  She had her own life; her own set of friends.  At least she used have that.  It had been less than a year since she left home and most of the other kittens that she grew up knowing had all gone their separate ways.  It wasn’t that they stopped being her friend, they simply drifted away into their own futures of which Mushi would not become a part. 

She continued down the street where it led toward the less developed sections to the west.  The sun was beginning to set on the distant mountains.  It was all orange and grey with a beautiful mixture of blues and scarlet reds.  All of the colors reminded her of her simple ball of twine; her most prized possession!  How simple it was back then.

As Mushi turned the corner she found herself walking down the alley behind the house where she’d used to live.  She hardly recognized the houses because their colors were all wrong, different.  Then she came upon her old house with the huge block wall.  Only the wall was no longer erect.  There were remains scattered over the yard that were dirty and grey.  None of them even resembled a complete block.  And there in the rubble she found her ball.  It was covered with the silt from the concrete and hard very little shimmer left at all.  But she recognized it right away.  It was her ball.

There used to be a fountain at the park down the way as she recalled.  Mushi picked up the ball and walked into the deserted park.  There under the willow tree stood the fountain right where she’d remembered it stood.  The water was running just fine in spite of the state of disrepair of the rest of the park.  She splashed the ball in the fountain which quickly muddied the waters.  She turned around with the freshly cleaned ball dangling from her mouth.  Her eyes lit up like they had not done in so very long.  There he was; her friend; her confidant.  He just stood there silently and waited as he had done for so long.

Mushi dropped her ball and ran over to him and nestled herself near his chest.  She purred like a little kitten again and rubbed her face back and forth.  She was home!  She was truly home!

And the two kitties who shared a tail sat next to each other and watched the sun finally fall behind the mountains.  Life was good.

The End


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