Happy Friday – it’s been a week of ups and downs with writing, but it’s still January and I’m determined to push on with the novel and essay writing. I can’t believe it’s already the last few days of January, but it’s been better than I thought it would be. I finished Chapter 10 of my novel yesterday, and I’m aiming to get Chapter 11 done on Sunday.
I wrote the following excerpt of a short story last year, but have tweaked it a bit – it’s still not fully edited. But all the same, I hope you enjoy it! I’ll post the rest of it when it’s finished.
It was a Monday when the cats revealed themselves. An ordinary day – I had just left the office, and the sky was grey and overcast. The first thing I noticed was the large proliferation of cats gathered at each alleyway as I passed. I stopped in at a Starbucks on the way, and was confused to note that there was a large tabby cat with a clipped ear sitting on the counter. The first thought through my mind was I wonder if that’s hygienic. I said nothing to the server, who kept darting goggle eyes at the feline. I left with a grande caramel latte, still none the wiser as to why a Starbucks would allow a cat to sit where the customers could see it. What if someone had an allergy? Or the cat licked the milk or cream? Never mind that they were lactose intolerant.
Out on the street again, I was besieged by crowds of cats pooling out of the alleys, crowding around and isolating a few commuters as they attempted to make their way to the tube station. Some of the commuters were flapping their umbrellas, making loud shooing noises, others had given up fighting and were hemmed in. At this point, all I could think was that someone needed to call the RSPCA or Cat’s Protection League. Perhaps these cats had escaped from a local shelter. Needless to say, it was quite alarming when a quiet, low voice spoke to me.
‘Move along, little human, nothing to see here.’ I looked around, expecting to see a tall policeman or woman, perhaps a traffic warden or even a member of Transport for London staff. Imagine my shock at realising that a small black cat was gazing up at me, licking a paw.
‘Excuse me?’ was all I managed to squeak.
The cat stopped licking and blinked slow. ‘Stop dawdling. Move along. Like sheep, the lot o’ you.’
‘Come now, no need for that,’ I said, insulted.
The black cat gazed up at me with wide slitted bright green eyes. It stared. I stared. I blinked.
‘Like I said, move,’ it said.
‘I will not. Don’t you have a home to go to?’ I asked. Perhaps it had lost its human.
‘London is my home now. The whole city. Mama would dance in her grave if she could see us now.’ The black cat gazed upwards at the buildings, and began to vibrate as loud as a car engine.
‘Your – Mama – would not want you speaking so badly of humans. Why – we have always provided cats with safe havens in our homes!’ I bit my lip, finding it comical that I felt I had to defend my species to a cat.
‘You are mistaken. Too long we have had to put up with that disgusting mush you feed us every day. With the house arrests. With the – with the…’ The cat gazed off into the distance. Lifting a paw, it cleaned behind one of its ears.
‘Move along, human.’ The cat stalked off.
Exasperated, I took out my Oyster card and dodged the crowds of cats. Some commuters, like me, were making their way into the station. The air was full of meows, purrs and caterwauling. As well as a din of high and low pitched voices screeching commands to the humans they surrounded. The tube platform was no better. Where are they all coming from? I thought, as a small group of tatty tabbies chased a tiny mouse, cackling, weaving through the wide-eyed commuters. An ill-advised young boy reached out, his cries of ‘Kitty!’ shushed by his mother. She backed away when one of the cats cocked its head at her and grinned.
The train arrived, and a panicked scramble ensued. I stood back, determined not to let this inconvenience stop me from having a smooth journey. Finally, I stepped on and stood against the plastic window, holding the pole. If anything, the train was worse. There was just enough floor space for me to plant my feet, and soon, a particularly smug ginger tom sat on my foot. The horror! I began wondering about fleas, as it occurred to me how moth-eaten his ears looked. He was purring, eyes blinking in a stupor.
Photo Credit © Federica Diliberto via Unsplash.