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November 07, 2007

Cat's eye view

I've been a bit remiss about updating this Blog thing. I don't like it much. (Don't tell anyone). It's probably doing me the world of good. Like eating celery does you the world of good. But I'll not let that stop me from complaining about it. That would be giving in.

Here's the piece I wrote for week two's ICW class. Ages ago now. It's a cat's eye view of Kristen's snippet from week one, which you can find here. I'm not going to say too much more about it, because since then I have been on the re-write train. And once you've been for a ride, you look back and realise where you've come from is shit. It's embarassing.


The cat sneezed. A chill pervaded his bones and danced upon his tongue. Blinking into consciousness, he saw the cause – it was later than he’d thought, and the fall of warmth that lay here, where he did, on these early afternoons, had moved on.

With measured ease, he slid his limbs into a standing position, sleep-time stiffness shearing off his limbs. Every tendon and muscle splayed in an exquisitely comprehensive yawning stretch. His tail unfurled, claws unsheathed, curving away from his feet. Waves of luxuriant purrs rumbled from his chest.

He tripped down onto a box, then onto the cool linoleum floor. The cavernous space hung at his back, vacant and orange. Yes, the tall ones had gone away. Their pervading noise and fuss absent, only that peculiar admixture of scents and scattered debris remained. Crumbs of bread and skin tacked the pads of his feet, adding crunch to his every step.

The overhead beams had been extinguished too. Their warmth gone, there was no recourse but to find another source. He sniffed. Sunlight was this way. So he went.

Not all had left. Two remained. The cat could hear the rasp of their tongues now; the flapping beat of their bird-wing wrappings as they moved; the thrill of hair swept aside, colouring the air with sharp sweet odorous tastes.

They stood in his way. He approached with insouciance. Beyond, outside, he knew, stood a burnished thin structure; and it was there he aimed. It was the colour of old blood laced with a pattern of ash. It had been built by them, painstakingly, like so many others, of blocks and paste. It was hard, and had hard edges. At this time it was a familiar haunt, secure and safe, within sight too of the low square place from which meat would be deposited. 

They were different indeed, these two: one long, one small; one fair, one dark; one yammering and vigorous, one a watery echo of herself. The afternoon glow beyond lent them radiant mazy haloes of light. Curiously, the long one stank of fear. The cat paused. No uncommon smell in this place, yet one that always merited caution.

He watched. The petite’s bony hands jabbed and stung as they moved. The rituals of power and menace. All the taller wanted to do was get away, yet she was held there like an injured mouse, spinning by its tail from some high place. The cat understood.

His tail swished, and he bent low, nose prickling at the dust of the ground. He could feel his ears easing back. When the move came, he would be ready.

Such exchanges baffled him. It was communication of a sort, yet nothing ever happened. Their jaws would clatter up and down, their hands flail, and they would drift apart. What had been achieved? What was it for?

The balance had shifted. The taller girl’s defences baffled the other one, who, smashed up against a glass pane of coolness, seemed unable to move for herself. Tension whined; the cat could feel it sing through the smooth nap of his amber coat.

Then, with a twang it was done for, and the tall one loped away. The smaller lingered, staring after her with a disconsolate stoop to her shoulders.

Nothing would come of nothing. The cat resumed his advance, sauntering past the dark-haired one, leaning to slip his sinuous little body against the taut tower of her left leg. She had bent to stroke him, and he felt the tremble in her spread fingers as his back coursed by. 

Within a few meters he had stepped out into the sun-burnished afternoon.
His lids lowered as he savoured, senses lolling in gratitude at the change in scene. Here was a myriad-faceted world, where the salt of a baked asphalt road could twine the delighted cry of a satiated cuckoo. He leapt to the crown of the wall and sat, neatly arranging his limbs.

The cat’s tag was pavement-coloured and pendulous, cold against his breast. It read ‘MILO’. This meant nothing to him, though read aloud he recognised the sound. He had learnt to. The tall knew him by it, and called to him by spitting it into the wind. When their hands fell upon him, a stream of beating warmth, they whispered it into his ears.
  


Onwards and upwards, as they say.


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