Fiction Friday presents a short story I wrote a few years ago and tried to cycle out. I’m not sure any market exists for it without major changes. Also, sorry I’m late. My chest cold chose more sleep and late posting. I know, flimsy excuse.
Finally, before we begin, I listened to Neko no Kimochi in loop while I wrote it, you can do the same as you read, if you like. There are a few nods to the song on purpose, you can check out a translation directly on the video. Mostly, my own cats over the years inspired Cocoa, named for one of Yin’s cousins, who died before her time. I decided to bring her back to life for this short.
Here it is!
In the dark she saw it. She watched intently as it darted back and forth along the edges of the wall. Green eyes shining with anticipation, she thought of Alex and how proud he’d be of her. She crouched lower at the thought and pretended to sniff the floor as if she’d never noticed the grey mouse flitting in and out of the shadows.
It paused to pick up a crumb of stale bread from the foot of the stairs that led up from the basement and into the warmer parts of the house. Seeing her opportunity, Cocoa dipped her head even lower, shifted all of her weight to her back legs, and wiggled to test her footing for the attack.
The mouse sniffed the air and before it could catch wind of her, she pounced on it. For a few moments, the mouse lay unmoving. Experimentally she batted it back and forth and then sniffed it. Without warning, the mouse jumped to life and attached its teeth just to the left of Cocoa’s nose. She jumped back and yowled, swiping the mouse off with a paw.
Before either could act again, a white cat tackled the mouse, his teeth bared. She watched the scene with wide eyes, and then looked down demurely when he turned to face her, the mouse in his sharp, gleaming teeth. Her eyes felt drawn to him. She couldn’t help but stare.
Alex padded over to her and laid the mouse at her feet. He was much more handsome as a cat, and so brave too! She felt her heart quicken. His fur was soft to the eyes and she longed to snuggle into it. Groomed to perfection, his fur flowed like bright sunlight down his back to his long, snowy tail. She felt as though she could fall safely into him as she leaned forward and they butted heads affectionately.
At least that was what she daydreamed after she finished killing the mouse by herself. She felt she might fly to him as she carried the mouse, the proof of her love and affection, up the stairs to her human, Alex. Imperfect, but she could dream.
She found him lying on the couch, basking in the sun that poured through the large window behind him, and watching what he called a teevee. She leaped on his chest with an extra bounce in her step and laid the mouse right in front of him. She blinked with lazy pleasure and meowed for his attention.
Alex looked down at her, and then at the mouse, and jumped off the couch, tossing her and the mouse to the other end in a heap.
“Cocoa!” He gave a rough sigh and marched off to the kitchen.
She flattened her ears and mewed softly, looking at the mouse with sad eyes. What did I do wrong? She sniffed at it, confused about his anger. Was it not fresh enough? Did he want to kill it?
Soon, Alex stomped back into the living room with an arm full of paper towels that he used to scoop up the dead mouse. He threw a glare at her that made her shrink into the corner of the couch before he stomped back to the kitchen to throw the mass of paper towels in the trash.
“Thanks a lot,” he said as he slumped back into the couch, a scowl on his face.
With anguish in her voice, Cocoa mewed softly before she slinked off behind the couch. What did I do wrong? Hurt choked off any other mews she may have had left as her thoughts chased each other. Why is he always mean to me for nothing? She thought of the dragonfly she’d caught when the garden was still leafy. It had been tough prey, so quick and graceful. She’d brought the dragonfly to him almost in tact and he threw a similar fit, and then tossed it away.
Just last week he went out for dinner with another human and left her alone to dine on old fish bones in the trash and he yelled at her when he came home! And he can never go a day without messing up my fur when he pets me! She thought, grumpy now. Her ears flattened until they were hardly distinguishable from her head, sulking.
She barely heard him get up from the couch sometime later after she’d settled into an uneasy nap, filled with angry, hurt thoughts.
The smell of fish called her from sleep. Her eyes blinked open and she got up, stretched, and cautiously peered around the edge of the couch. He wasn’t in sight. She walked casually into the kitchen, and feigning indifference, sat down at his feet as he busied himself at the stove. She eyed him some, but mostly she eyed the fish.
Alex laughed at her. “Oh, you want some fish do you?”
He shook his head. “After that mouse…”
“Nyao?” She widened her eyes, and put a pleading note in her voice with a pleasant trill. The fish would be good, but she also wanted to know he wasn’t still mad at her.
Alex laughed again. “Maybe.” He turned his back on her and continued to cook the fish.
To her extreme irritation, every time she meowed, he only mimicked her. With flattened ears she turned and left the room. She walked over to the couch, and with revenge in mind, plopped comfortably into his spot, right in the sunshine. She deserved it more anyway. I’d just love to see him try and move me!
She set about grooming herself and pretended not to notice when he reentered the room with his lunch. He harumphed but didn’t move her, instead he sat by her and patted her head. She flattened her ears, but otherwise continued to ignore him.
He tisked, sat his plate down on the coffee table and bent to put his face in her fur. “Will you forgive me?” He teased and mussed the fur on her stomach.
She flattened her ears further and began licking the spot he’d just touched.
“What’s this?” He sat up and started thumbing the sore on her nose.
Cocoa flinched from his touch and mewed softly.
“Oh, Cocoa!” He scooped her up in his arms and began to baby her. “Did that mouse do this?” He stroked the spot, gingerly, with a finger and fussed over her. “Let’s go clean that off.”
He stood up and carried her to the bathroom and turned on the faucet. Cocoa panicked and tried to climb up his arm, but he held her firmly. She still fought with him until she realized he wasn’t going to dump her in the sink as a cruel joke. He took the corner of a warm wash cloth and began to clean the bite mark next to her nose. She winced as he rubbed the newly formed scab off, and put some stingy water on it. Cocoa fought with him again, but his grip remained firm. He carried her back into the living room.
“You’re such a good mouser,” he soothed, stroking her fur.
Away from the water and warm in his arms, Cocoa’s whole body vibrated with her pride and pleasure, making a loud purr that calmed her further. She started when he put her down in the afternoon sun again but blinked lazily at him when he picked up his fish and broke off a piece for her.
“Here you go.” He continued to share his meal with her until it was gone, and then they both stretched out together in the lazy winter sunlight. Cocoa sighed happily as she snuggled in next to him, she could stay like this forever.