Prompt: You are trying to read the morning newspaper when your cat begins pawing at your leg. You brush it away, but it jumps on the table and begins meowing. Finally, the cat speaks. What does she say? Write this scene and what she is trying to tell you.
Ever since I was laid off of my career of twenty-one years, I had the same morning routine: I rose with the sun and made breakfast for me and my beloved salt-and-pepper colored cat, Isis, while I read the newspaper out loud.
"What's it going to be today, Isis?" I asked, while whipping omelets. "Local or international?"
I looked toward the cat who found me fourteen years prior before answering for her. "Local? Sounds great, like always." I sat at the breakfast table and Isis sat in the chair next to me. Unlike some of my other more Orthodox friends, I allowed Isis to eat from the table in exchange for cuddles during our afternoon nap.
A gruesome story of a five-year-old boy who was kidnapped caught my attention, and my voice wavered while reading it until I realized the article was incomplete.
"Weird, huh? It just stops right there. I guess they haven't released that information yet. We'd better watch the news tonight to hear updates. I wonder why there hasn't been an Amber alert posted," I said to Isis and moved to flip the page, but she extended her paw to stop me.
"No, girl, this article is over," I said and tried to move her paw to no avail.
"No, reread the story. It's not finished because the day isn't over."
I let the bite of omelette on my fork fall to the plate as I turned to face Isis. My brows furrowed and my mouth hanged open.
"You - you're - since when can you talk?" I asked my furry companion and wondered briefly if I had just became the crazy cat lady everyone professed I'd become.
"Of course I can talk. You've just never asked me anything of importance before." She flicked her tail and licked her paw.
"I'm confused -"
"Well, don't be. I'll explain everything as soon as you reread the article and we save that young boy."
I did as Isis said and reread the article, but it was still incomplete.
"Nothing's changed, Isis. The boy is still not found."
"Correct, and we are going to find him."
I shook my head, certain now that I could be considered clinically insane. If my former colleagues at the hospital knew I was conversing with my cat, I'd be locked up. But I wasn't at the hospital and I didn't have colleagues, so I implored further and discovered I had been receiving the morning papers a day before they were supposed to be delivered.
"So, you see, you're supposed to save this boy," Isis said, enunciating every word.
It took a few hours for Isis to explain, and I learned that morning that cats are wonderfully intricate storytellers. I learned that everything from the day that Isis came into my life after she had a near miss with a drunk driver to the day that I started getting the next day's papers was part of a delicate plan from the universe.
We hopped in my car with Isis on my lap, and we drove through the snow drifts that hadn't yet been plowed in search for a boy who we didn't know.
"Okay, girl, where to?" I asked.
"You're on your own this time. Listen to your gut and just go with it."
I tried as hard as I could, but I could only hear my stomach rumble. I closed my eyes to drown out the cries of hunger, and I saw a shadow in a darkened room. I heard this shadow sob. I smelled rotting peaches and grapes. I felt a tingling sensation in the deep parts of my belly I didn't know existed.
I turned the car around and sped off toward the abandoned wine tasting building at the edge of town. Almost immediately after getting out of the car, I felt the hairs on my neck prickle, and knew I had to move quickly for this to work. I wandered the grounds until I found a cellar and pried the rotted wooden doors loose. The inside was dark and smelled of the same rotten peaches and grapes I smelled earlier.
Though there wasn't light down there, I instinctively walked to the young boy who was still sobbing. He clung to me and called me "Mama," and for a few seconds, I paused to consider just how surreal it was.
"We have to go now," Isis said, bringing me back to the present.
Once outside, I oriented myself to the rays of morning and headed in the direction of the car. We were fifty feet away when I heard a booming noise behind me and shrieked when I saw a large man with eggs hanging from his moustache making a beeline toward me.
"Keep going," Isis said. "I'll distract him." I tried protesting but my lungs burned. "Remember, it's all part of the plan," she said.
Once safely in the car I drove away, leaving my beloved Isis in a heaping pile in the snow after the man had shot her. A tear escaped my eyes, but I knew she wouldn't stay away too long.
When I turned on the evening news, I saw the young boy reunited with his mother, who was in tears. The reporters claimed a Good Samaritan dropped the boy off at the police department and he sustained no injuries. I went to sleep that night knowing that tomorrow would be the same, and Isis would be the tickle in my gut that guided me to the next person who needed rescuing.