This story is by Ivy M.R. and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Every day was any day, or at least that’s how it is most often. Things tend to happen in patterns. This is the same with all things, animals and humans alike. Though the pattern of humans may be the more disliked one of those, this time is not for the humans, their patterns are breakable. This is for the animals. Those without free will.
Dogs and cats- they are the commoners of the grass, of the woods, of the pavement. The strays interacting with those that have collars just to see them walk away every night into a house they cannot join them in. The nameless go on, sometimes to their own little dwellings or to spots that seem safe enough, away from others, away from the people.
Dogs seem to receive more sympathy from passer-bys, whereas the cats, thrown to curbs and tossed in dumpsters, run when approached. The same goes for Calico and Black Cat.
They ran side by side, bounding away from one another only momentarily until skipping back. They scurried between people, away from children’s hands, and out of reach of angry feet. Their tails whippy and their triangular ears flicking to and fro. They were on the prowl, they wanted kibble. Smells wafted from the people overhead. Most were sweet smells, that cats had no interest in. What the cats wanted most were the smells that came out of the trucks that sat on corners.
It was easy to find them, but harder to stay unseen once they were near. The workers in the trucks and many of the customers were aware of the thieving cats. After all the cats did look the same. But of course, it was not just Calico and Black Cat that came for kibble. There were several cats here, some just barely peeking out at the truck from far away, too scared to approach, others were too blatantly starving to care to hide.
Calico and Black Cat were hungry but their ribs remained hidden, unlike their many neighbors. Some of those that had ribs showing could get away with being in the open, getting sympathy as a result of slowly dying, not all were as lucky, as, some it seemed, had ribs that were particularly good for kicking.
Their approach to the truck was careful. They separated to remain unnoticed. Calico slipped behind to the truck’s opened back door. The inside was loud and hot with two people inside the cramped space. She had to be quick, or she would be spotted. She did not try to scurry over the hot stove to steal anything, she had tried it before. No, all she did was search the floor for scraps that had fallen. The cats had happened upon a Philly cheesesteak truck, a good find for a cat and a person. It was easy for her to gather a mouthful of little slivers of meat. It was time to make a dash for the door.
The workers notice Calico Before she can get out. The griller attempts to make her leave unnoticeably for the sake of the customers but he nudges her too hard. She drops her collection and jumps high in the air with a growl. Her tail poofs up big and all of a sudden she’s hissing on the counter right in front of the next customer. Too much commotion ensues and soon enough Calico is knocking sandwiches off the counter. It’s as if a herd of cats is unleashed as hidden and starving streak forward to get at the piles of steak on the ground.
Calico, already diving to get some too, glances about for Black Cat but he is already off, having found kibble before the chaos broke out. Black Cat Prefers the simple approach of springing onto the counter as a sandwich is being set down. He’s successful with one attempt, and then he’s off, gibberish being yelled after him. Cats trail him as he hides away, waiting for Calico. It is as he defends the kibble that Calico ruins the truck workers’ day. The cats attempting to get Black Cat’s sandwich run off to the truck as others run to the fallen food. Moments later Calico comes bounding over to Black Cat, her mouth so fall of food that it’s falling out. Together they run off, looking for an empty doorway.
They eat good and lounge about in the sun, lazily blinking at one another. Later on, clouds come out and cover the sun, they are gray and black and the cats know that. They take cover in the doorway they found, as the droplets start. People run around, scurrying for cars and houses and awnings. Dogs and cats look for boxes and doorways and dumpsters. All is hidden and well. Not a soul is left in the open, eyes hidden away. The two cats wander into the rain. Their fur quickly soaked. They creep slowly, keeping watchful eyes on all things not there. Black Cat, sure there is still danger, watches longer while Calico finds an empty soda can being jostled by the rain. And so commences the playing.
That can is rattled around on the cement for a while as Calico and Black Cat chase it, passing it to one another. They tussle together and roll among the puddles. Living all they can when they have the chance to, when there is no one to stop them, nothing to be scared of. So there they dance, shivering but as warm as they could be.
Days go on with the two cats, always searching for kibble and safe places. They often find the food they need, but places to stay hidden are not as easy to find. The population of stray cats is ever-growing. There is no stopping it, and there is no stopping the harm they come to. The people are everything but what they are not- little care and much less care to care. Though of the few, there is Little Boy. He is unsure but caring nonetheless. Kibble, real kibble, sits underneath a window. Cats prowl around the bowls whether they are full or empty. There is safety to be had there, and cats do enjoy safety. Calico and Black Cat happen upon Little Boy’s window every once in a while. Black Cat, keeping careful watch, had come to notice Little Boy peeking very carefully through the window, staring wonderingly at the cats.
It was on a night that Calico and Black Cat were sticking around Little Boy’s window that clouds hung heavy in the sky once again. The two cats were crowded under the porch with several of the other cats that loitered near the kibble window. Whiskers were twitching, waiting for the rain, for the safe separation of all else. It was a downpour but Calico and Black Cat wanted it all the same. They wandered out carefully, slinking to the window, where the other cats couldn’t watch them, and there they hopped about. Calico watched a rain gutter, attacking each bubble that formed. Black Cat chased leaves stuck in the wind. It was fantastic, it was calm, it was everything that the cats could want.
Little Boy was at the back door, watching the cats. He opened it carefully and crept closer to Calico. He only wanted to pet them, to say hi to those he cared so much for. Calico noticed Little Boy too late. She backed away from the gutter but she did not run. She stood and stared at Little boy, watched as he reached his hand towards her. She found that she did not mind his hand once it lightly grazed her head. She was still uncertain but she was in the rain, and he was there too.
Black Cat watched this unfold. He wanted to run but he wouldn’t leave Calico. He watched more too, watched as the door opened once again but this time a tall one stood there, yelling and waving arms. Little Boy was yelling back. They were upset and Calico was startled. She sped off quickly, running strictly in the direction of away. Black Cat ran after her but it was all off, just a little too late, or too soon, or too something… and Calico was on the road, and a car was speeding off, and Little Boy was yelling, and it was all wrong because it was raining and they were meant to dance in the rain, but they weren’t and they couldn’t.
Black Cat lay there in the rain, in the road, in the tire marks that shouldn’t have been marks. He lay there and pondered how it could possibly be raining if Calico was not dancing. The rain, it was no longer good, because let it be said that a dangerous place for a cat is where a cat cannot dance. Black Cat lay there longer and longer and when the rain stopped he kept his place, until he was with Calico, dancing again.