Tuesday, December 24, 2013

From Jeni: A Little Fish

A Little Fish

Mrs Whitworth returned to acting out the normal cat duties that were expected of her by society.  She slept in sunny windowsills during the day, only moving when the dark memories of the faire returned with dusk. Nights, she left presents of rodent parts on the front steps, because that is what cats do, isn't it?  Knowing she owed her life and safety to the girl, she deigned to warm her lap when it suited her. Life returned to bland normalcy, except that Mrs Whitworth was still a cat. Without an antidote, that wasn't going to change anytime soon.

The girl seemed to have become attached to having Mrs Whitworth around. Her bowl was always full of fresh meat. The girl placed a potted catnip in the window above the sink. There was a basket lined with a warm, slightly worn blanket for her to sleep in next to her bed. The window in the back of the house was open just enough to allow her to escape for hunting and other business, and of course to return through. A normal cat would be content.

Mrs Whitworth was not content, she was frustrated. At the time, being anything other than human was a happy daydream. The reality of not being able to study due to the sharpness of her claws and the weight of the books was always in her thoughts. Her inability to replace the antidote didn't bother her as much, having the little one to look after. To have books to read while she was watching the little imp would certainly improve things. She needed something to wile away the time.

Opportunity presented itself in the form of a vacation. The girl had fashioned leashes for the kitten and Mrs Whitworth, but never attempted to use them. This day she spotted them laying over a satchel next to the front door. Her dish was empty and the window was closed. The girl scooped up the kitten and fitted it with a leash. Mrs Whitworth debated hiding under something low and difficult to reach under, but acquiesced. Leashes in hand and satchel looped over her shoulder, the girl made her way to the hot air balloon. They were going to Pandaria!

Mrs Whitworth kept the kitten from climbing the sides of the basket. She had help, but the view from where the girl was kept her distracted most of the time. About 3 hours into the trip, the kitten tired of trying to escape and settled down under Mrs Whitworth's watchful paw for a nap.  The smell of the air had changed from the slightly sooty smell of home to a cleaner, flowery fragrance. Whiskers twitching appreciatively, she closed her eyes and breathed deeply, savoring the smell.

The basket landed with a bump, startling the cats awake. The girl tugged gently on the leashes, resettling the satchel on her shoulder as she left. The cats followed as she walked off the landing pad and over to a small village on the side of a hill.  Bridges connected the bits of green broken by the oddly shaped pond the village was built around.   A bear-like creature motioned for her to follow it to a slightly larger cottage. Inside what now was obviously a tavern, the girl spoke with another bear, who led them to a a spot by the fireplace. "You can bunk down here.  It's not much, but when you need it, it will have bedding and a privacy screen.  The little ones are welcome to stay in the village while you are off picking up the jade you wanted at the mines.  We'll make sure they stay close and out of trouble." The girl set her satchel next to a bench and let the cats off their leads. "I'm trusting you to stay close.", she said as she scratched each one gently under the chin. She left the bowls and leads near the bench and nodded to the tavern owner as she left.

The innkeeper filled the bowls with some chopped meat then whistled loudly. A cub came in and asked, "Whatcha want, Uncle Goldendraft?"

 "Make sure these little ones stay within the village walls, Shin. Why don't you find them some friends to play with?"

"You got it, boss!" Shin patted the cats on their heads then said, "Let's go to the pond.  There are some nice fish in there.  Maybe you can catch one!"

Mrs Whitworth followed the cub to the waters edge and peered in.  There were many different colored fish in the water, and all sizes. She watched the kitten tentatively put its paw into the water, then frantically shake it to get the water off. The kitten began a lengthy grooming, so Mrs Whitworth sat looking at the fish, trying to decide if she wanted one for a toy or a treat. As she sat contemplating, her tail swishing back and forth, the cub tossed a handful of crumbs out onto the water.  The water boiled with frenzied fish, all fighting at the surface trying to get a morsel. A crumb floating near the shore was snatched up by a very small white fish. Without thinking, Mrs Whitworth swiped her paw, claws sheathed, under the fish and pulled it out of the water. The cub, seeing this, hurried over and plopped the little fish into a mug of water. "You caught one!"  Now you have a friend to take home with you. Let's go show Uncle Goldendraft!"

The cub picked up the kitten who had dozed off and carried it with the mug of water to the tavern, Mrs Whitworth close behind. "Uncle! Do you have a glass bowl?  The cat caught a tiny white carp!" He set the kitten down on a table, still sleeping, and brought the mug to the bar.

"Yes, Shin, here it is. While I get the fish settled, why don't you make sure your friends are comfortable.  Get the screen and the bedding out of the closet and set them up near the fire."

Anything you say, boss. Can I have a mug of Pearl Milk Tea?"  The question was muffled by a pile of bedding twice as tall as Shin as he staggered toward the fire under his burden. He laid it out, fluffed the pillows, then settled the purring kitten against them.  Mrs Whitworth circled several times, pawing the blankets into a suitable nest before settling down. Shin went back to the closet, walking back with a flower patterned silk screen, which he set up between the fireplace and the bar, closing off a small area for the travelers to call their own for their short stay. Happy with his work, Shin hopped up on a bar stool and grabbed a mug.

"Shin! Don't drink that, it's pond water!" Uncle Goldenbrew slid a new mug full of tea closer to the boy. "This is yours. Thank you for your help. When you're done, take your mom this package of rice noodles.  She needs it for your dinner."

Shin wiped his mouth on his arm and grabbed the package. He peeked behind the screen at his new friends, smiled at their purr filled dreaming, and slipped quietly out the door.

Evening came and the girl returned with a much heavier satchel.  Wearily, she asked the barkeep for a glass of wine and something warm to eat as she sat down heavily at the bar.  Mrs Whitworth hopped up on the next stool. "This land is so rich. I have enough jade to make a trinket and even possibly a few pieces of jewelry. We'll leave in the morning. Did you enjoy yourself, cat?" The girl rubbed behind Mrs Whitworth's ear.

Mrs Whitworth smiled to herself, a paw resting on the small glass bowl.  She had enjoyed herself, for a while. She might enjoy the fish later, too. She licked her lips in anticipation as the girl picked her up and brought her back behind the screen for the night.
Look! My Furtive Father Gift from Jeni at Escapist Scrawl! Thank you so much, I love it! Postscript: Here is the other part of the gift, a beautiful, pearly Tiny White Carp:

1 comment:

  1. Yay! OMG a wonderful gift - a story about Mrs Whitworth! :D Great work Shawndra!


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