Somehow the sight of my sharp claws brings her to her senses, and so she removes the blankets in a big hurry. She has—or rather, used to have—a pretty figure, I conclude, now that I see it. The fabric is swishing softly as she ties the belt around her waist, showing off that which was once slender, but now is merely fragile.
I trot behind her to the kitchen, and watch in amazement as she fumbles about, opening and closing cabinet doors in utter confusion. By now, I am deeply in despair. Something fizzles in my throat, but I do my best to hold back, to subdue it from becoming a full-throated hiss.
“What’s the fuss?” I ask. “Did I ask you to catch mice? Look here, for crying out loud, look inside already!”
And with that, I thread my long, flexible tail directly into the handle of the pantry door. It gives way, it opens with the usual creak, and there, on the lowest shelf, is that thing I learned to crave: A can with a lovely whiskered face on it.
She picks it up. I wait. I do not meow.
Now she embarks on shuffling stuff in the drawer. The hunger grows in me as the clink and the clank rise higher and higher, as spiky and prickly as rage. Finally she digs out a shiny tool and then, snap! She sticks it into the thing, right there between those whiskers.
And with that one blow, the aroma! Ah, tinged with blood, it spreads instantly, all over the place. Is she a killer, I ask myself. Is she is a killer, too?
Full of awe, I watch her closely as she labors to cut the thing open. I study her from one side, then from the other, only to catch her shooting a little glint at me from the corner of her eye. I can see that she is calculating, with a little smile, the twisting of her knife.
Alas, in this place, my hunger puts me at her mercy. So she is using this particular moment, I figure, to play a cruel game with me, a game of measure for measure: a measure of her skill with the knife against the measure of the pain in my stomach. Her power against my need.
Her lips curl up, as if to say, Let me hear you purr, will you? No?
Her skin hangs under her chin and around her neck like a delicate necklace, wrinkle upon wrinkle, and her face is fallen. I can, without too much effort, use my bad eye to erase—if only for a squint—the marks of time on her. For that brief second I find in her the playful, if not innocent, face of a kitten.
“What happened? You swallowed your tongue?” she asks teasingly. “You’re as quiet as a mouse!”
My stomach growls, so I just crouch there, staring helplessly at her knife.
“This place,” she casts a look around her. “Oh my, it gave me the creeps at first. I mean, no one told me it came not only with furniture, but with a pet, too.”
In place of an answer I claw her leg, because hell, I am more than some useless old nicknack. Beware. I am dangerous.
So to sooth me, she goes, “Oh my, such an adorable tail! I love it, I do!”
Written for a smart and perceptive reader, who is not afraid to let her imagination fly.
-Oleg Medvedkov, Top 500 reviewer