Reaching out to you [Short story]
The day I first approached you was an ordinary day in a long row of ordinary days; but then it was this particular encounter that decided in my head that I was a privileged being; for, as a cat, I could connect with people with much more ease than they could do it among themselves.
At least a month had passed since, upon going to bed as a 30 something year-old man, I suddenly and perplexingly woke up as a member of Felis domesticus. That is to say, I woke up in the body of a cat, while still retaining a human consciousness and ability to discern facts. It had taken me quite some time till I had finally coped with seeing the world in greenish blue tints, hearing every little sound wave as is amplified and, most disturbingly, smelling every ounce of odor of organic and non-organic entities. But even so, beyond my enhanced senses, what truly bothered me were my cat instincts; I had to obey them whether willing or not; yet I couldn’t help but rationalize my behavior and feel ashamed of it from a human perspective.
In fact, it was this rationalization that led me far away from my cat brethren and deep into the heart of the city, seeking not the company of, but the mere distant presence of human beings. Food had never been my problem, for I always came up with plans to obtain it cunning enough both for a cat and for a human; so most of the time I simply wandered about aimlessly. There was nothing I could do to get back to my human body, I quickly resolved; so my existence, from now on, was simply a matter of enjoying what remained of my life; or my nine lives, for that matter.
Every day, at noon, when I was feeling even lazier and cozier than average, I would go near a bus station – always the same gray, old bus station – and stare at the chaotic passage of time and people. It was an experience like no other; it made me think not of how invisible I was as a cat, but how invisible I had once been as a human being, minding my own business absent-mindlessly, yet never arriving at a definite point in life. People come and go in this world; people come and go in the bus station; yet right now I was in a still moment in life, built not for getting somewhere, but analyzing those who were willing to go there.
It was in these moments of analyzing that I found the most curious human behaviors and stories; for everybody told a story through their behavior; that little old lady had always had a knack for making subtle jokes, that lad had never once hit anybody; and many more. It was delightful to stare and analyze; even more delightful that nobody would have ever suspected what was going on in my mind, since I was a mere cat; and finally, what I loved most was that I myself could pick up favorites among usual passengers – and I had picked up you.
First day I saw you, it was raining. It had been raining for a few days; yet you had no umbrella. Even more, you were running wildly, hair untied, coat funnily unbuttoned hanging behind your shoulder bag strap; it was clear that you were in a hurry. You ran and ran, across the wet, dirty sidewalk, across the street, hoping till the very last moment that the bus driver would wait for you; yet he didn’t, and you couldn’t help but let out an involuntary growl. You then waited for more than 20 minutes for the next bus, all the while staring annoyingly every two seconds at your wristwatch, yet humming a playful, energy-filled tune; and after your departure, I remember thinking to myself: “Now that is a girl I would have liked to be friends with while human.”
Since then, I have seen you almost every weekday, same late hour, same hurried pace; and for some reason, I’ve always been strangely attached to you. Maybe it is because I still see hope in you, hope that you will somehow, someday arrive somewhere where you’ll be content – and on time; or maybe because you make a funny picture with your happy tune in that mass of grumpy, indifferent passers-by; or maybe even because you always notice me, nod at me, yet never approach me. It often perplexes me, this distant attitude of yours; people I don’t sympathize with often sympathize with me; yet I’ve never quite stumbled upon the contrary till now. That’s why, for some odd reason, I, the cat that once was human, have developed a secret earning; namely, to reach out to you and make you understand exactly how much I appreciate you; and even more, to tell you a bit of my own story.
I see you arriving late again, today; honestly, girl, do get a grip and be more punctual; it makes me feel all tingly in my tail, having to wait so much for a quick moment of inner peace. Or perhaps, I am happy with your lateness; it somehow enhances the power that you have over me in my own head. Yet, from what I see, today is different; a bus passes and it’s your bus; but you completely ignore it and instead, approach me.
I can’t help but run. My instinct is telling me to run, despite my mind telling me to stay. I am torn, again, between cat and human; between an inferior and a superior conscience; I am torn between predetermined and willing decision. Halfway through getting under a car, I look back; you are there, with a disappointed look on your face; there’s nothing that can undo what has been done.
Yet you don’t give up. A day has passed, and you still insist upon us getting to know each other; still insist upon my supposed friendliness; and I quickly realize that you can never reach out to me as long as I don’t try myself reaching out to you; yet I am afraid. Not afraid as a cat, no; but afraid as a human being; afraid of finally meeting someone I can communicate with after being secluded all my life in my own brain; afraid of having to make a first step; afraid of sharing my soul with another one of my kind. You come closer, I run away; I still am not prepared to face my own fears.
Days pass and so do several unsuccessful attempts from you to me; now you’ve completely given up and stay dejected whenever you wait for the bus. I’m still there, in a safe place, watching you, compelled in my own silence; I don’t like your new attitude; I wish I could cheer you up somehow – or rather, I wish I could be cheered up by you somehow.
Now weeks pass, and months, and you are suddenly really sad, and grumpy, and alike the rest; and I am disappointed, not in you yourself, but in me. It’s definitely not my fault that there’s a cloud above your head; but it’s my fault that I’m not doing anything about it.
I know, in my own mind, that I simply have to touch you. Cats can sense where you are hurt, they say – and I want to help you heal that wound. There is definitely something wrong with you, that I am sure; something quite major and possibly life-changing; maybe you are simply growing up and becoming indifferent to anything noble, like them – and like my past self.
Because that’s it – I quickly realize. I want to stop you from making the same mistake I once did – that of deciding that life’s purpose is to simply go on. I want you to make your own life purpose and fight for it; fight for it through fire and storm; so that someday, when you’re older, you will have the ability to go on – and not wake up suddenly as a cat.
I’m pretty late arriving to the point, but that’s basically it. I was born in the body of a human being and given the conscience of a human being; but I never truly cherished it. It was only when transformed into an inferior being that I truly started appreciating what I had lost; yet it was too late for me; but nothing inferred it had to be too late for you too. Maybe I had been sent there as a warning; as a warning to guard you from a similar fate; and I was late to acting against that fate; but maybe, just like you, I could still catch the bus on time.
Today I approach you from my own will. You don’t notice me. Not when I come out of the bench; not when I crawl along the sidewalk; and definitely not even when I’m centimeters away from you. It’s only when I rub my furry head against your legs that you suddenly shiver; only then that you suddenly acknowledge my existence; only then, that, for the first time, there is a connection between us.
You pick me up and hold me in your arms; it’s enough for both of us; for I know, and surely you do as well, that from now on, we’ll be inseparable.
This is it, little unpunctual girl; stop being sad and grumpy; I promise I’ll do my best to reach out to you from now on, so as not to let you turn into a cat.
Concurs Deviantart – Runda 1, Decembrie 2011
Tema era “Reaching out to you”
Imaginea e a motanului meu Ludo