OUTSIDE, OVER THERE
God help us, we lost the cat for an hour and a half.
We didn’t know, for a while. Then, the house felt strange. Then, I remembered an open-screen-door conversation between daughter and her best friend. Where daughter goes, cat goes.
Cat left when daughter left, and no one noticed.
Daughter and I looked for half an hour, then ran a necessary errand. Car conversation, zero. I asked if she was okay, and she said, “I will be,” and looked out the window. In her mind, the cat could be anywhere, even across town where we made our short trip.
One neighbor has a pack of Siberian Huskies with an established dislike of cats. Two houses behind us, forest and fields begin, and we’re visited by every furry thing at night. Daughter’s best friend has a Rottweiler, and across the street lives Lieutenant Dan, who barks at us through an attic window, from his favorite spot on his parent’s bed.
We are surrounded by cat-gobbling predators, and the cat is naive prey.
As I called and prayed to the things that keep pets safe, I heard Maurice Sendak in my memory, chiding:
“When Papa was away at sea,
and Mama in the Arbor,
Ida played her wonder horn to rock the baby still –
but never watched.”
I had not watched. I was reading. Daughter was playing. We had let the cat loose, maybe to meet the goblins.
Words fail to express how much we love this cat. This darling, spoiled, overprotected little beastie makes our tiny witches’ cottage feel just right. We divide our time here into two unequal segments based on her arrival. She belongs with us. She is of us.
In the end, we found our beloved creature stalking things in a neighbor’s yard a block away. She did not and does not come when called unless she feels like it, and fortunately, finally, she felt like it. I called with the right tone of voice, and her tail stuck straight up, giving away her hiding spot for just a moment.
Now, the cat has much paw-tending to do. She’s fully engrossed in cleaning her nails and her whiskers. We had rain all morning, and she is muddy.
The silence of worry has broken. Songs burble from the bathtub-splashing daughter like every other night, but more so.
We’re all home, and we’re all right again, and I didn’t even have to snatch my yellow rain cloak to climb backwards out my window.