Stinky sat upright on the two-man couch, idly brushing and tending to the dark, flowing hair of her smaller sister Missy. Stinky enjoyed grooming the others, and always took it upon herself to mother them. Piglet was in the hallway, running up and down at full throttle chasing shadows. Thunderous tromping of heavy footfalls could be heard spontaneously as he went through another burst of energy. And Jack, during all of this, was bored and lonely, laying on the floor not far from his sisters. He wanted to be with them and talk, but they were busy amongst themselves and currently wanted no affairs with the outside world. And so, feeling cuddly, he took up a soiled dishrag from the dirty laundry and embraced it.
Cats have no teddy bears, so he clung to and burrowed himself against the things that reminded him most of his old home. To him, the smell of dirty towels and rags brought back memories of dark and comfortable basements, perfect for napping, and visions from his youth of small, lightly-colored bedrooms, and of his owner, young and carefree with plenty of free time for all four of them.
“I miss her,” Jack said suddenly after Piglet just got done running lunatic fast around the living room than high-tailed back into the hallway.
The others paid him no mind.
“They'll get back soon,” Missy replied sharply. Her eyes were closed, her body relaxed and leaning back as Stinky brushed her hair. They both found it relaxing, to groom and be groomed in return. “It's getting late.”
“What if something happened to them?” Jack asked, concerned. “What if it rained?”
For reasons that were a mystery to all, Jack was afraid of falling water in general, and rain in particular. He groomed himself constantly to maintain his hair and figure, but was uneasy around any liquid, save for his drinking water. When that water fell from great height, it somehow amplified his fears, making him convinced that terrible things would happen to anybody caught within a rain storm.
That's why he was always so relieved and affectionate after seeing his mother return safe and sound from the shower each day.
“I don't hear rain,” Missy deduced logically. “Look outside.”
Jack did, walking to the patio door left open and looking out through the screen. It was dark, with a chill wind easing in through the open inlet. The treetops, stenciled in gray under the rising moon, could be seen from our second floor apartment, between the porch railings. The cooling night air had the crispness of approaching autumn, but bore no evidence of precipitation.
“Good, it's not raining,” Jack assessed, relieved. “Rather quiet out there, actually.”
“The birds left,” said Missy, morosely. During the brighter summer days, the songbirds were Missy's friends as she sat in front of the open porch doors, chirping and calling to the birds outside. When asked why she did this, she would reply that she was trying to lure them in by speaking their language. Whether this was completely true or not was questionable.
Piglet chose that moment to rush into the room once more, crashing noisily into one of the two barrel chairs. He hopped atop and looked about frantically, eyes wide and breathing rapid.
For being the largest of the four, Piglet often times acted the part of the youngest, for no apparent reason at all.
He spoke all in a rush, winded and excited. “What's going on? What are you looking at? What are you guys talking about? What did I miss? Tell me, tell me!”
“Calm down, Piglet!” Missy scorned, agitated. “Idiot.”
Stinky continued to run her talented fingers through Missy's hair, slowly and methodically, and gradually the smallest of the four calmed back down.
“Just wondering when mom will get back,” Jack explained, looking intently at the shifting shadows and swaying boughs outside his door.
“Oh,” exclaimed Piglet. He blinked rapidly a few times before staring idly through the window. “Did you say she was bringing back food?”
“No, I didn't,” Jack replied, distracted.
“Oh. Well, that reminds me: I'm hungry.”
“We know,” Missy grumbled, annoyed. “We know.”