Episode 17: In Which a Cat Meets a Kitten
It is good to be settling in to the best time of year. In my window-ledge bed, the sun is strong, warming the glass. It glows in the leaves, turning them to emeralds, and a breeze pushes its way through the tree branches, making them dance. A bluer sky never existed, the perfect backdrop for the white cotton clouds skipping by in the stratosphere. Sometimes, in the afternoon, those clouds bundle together and block out the light, filling with water and turning grey by the weight of their own shadows. The breeze builds itself to a gale and pitches rain against the window, the steady rapping keeping time for the lightning. It is a pleasant chaos that temporarily interrupts the routine sunshine.
This morning, I was enjoying some of that routine sunshine in meditation; I was very close to deriving a formula for traveling through wormholes (cats have been after that tidbit for centuries) when I heard a miniscule mewling. One of my friends was seated at the big table, holding what appeared to be a towel, while her canine companion looked on in earnest. A reiteration of the tiny cry impelled me to vacate my window seat and investigate. I hopped up onto the table for a better view, and made my way carefully to the edge where I could see into my human colleague’s lap. There, peering out from the folds of the towel, was the tiniest specimen of my people I have ever encountered. Its mouth opened wide and emitted another utterance, and I replied in our native tongue. This garnered its full attention, and it gazed up at me unblinkingly, my own summer storm.
Two large, shining eyes stared at me out of a face framed by wild tufts of soft, fluffy kitten fur. Whiskers too long for the size of the head and body poked out in all directions; she would grow into them eventually, and her ears as well. That face stirred something in me; those eyes, wide as the world they had not yet seen, were filled with wonder at everything in sight, and at the same time gleamed with the fierce spirit of our people. I marveled at the nature of life; such a tiny thing, thrust into being to join the rest of us in this cosmic enigma. Two tiny white mittens rested on the arm of her caretaker, and she raised one and stretched it toward me. I reciprocated the gesture and reached gently out to touch her head with my paw. Our mutual ally brought us close enough to sniff, and when her tiny pink nose met mine, I felt the spark of familiarity and the scent of our kind filled my nostrils.
For a moment, I wanted to keep her. I saw myself with this kitten next to me, teaching her our traditions and our culture. From me, she would learn how to think properly about the world and the way of things; I could impart my wisdom on the importance of progressing universal discovery. It only lasted that moment before I came to back to my senses, and the visions dispersed as vapor on the air. What would I do with a kitten? They are too much work; more storm than sunshine. No, it is far better that she find a home with Dr. B., to be taken care of as I am taken care of here; without fear, needs met, and love.
She was carried away, and I returned to my window and stretched out in the sunshine. A distant mew drifted down the hallway behind me, and I did my best to ignore it, but I felt a small twinge. Instinct, I suppose, of any species to provide for its young. I watched the dancing emeralds for a while, and then squeezed my eyes shut. What a very different course my life could have taken. But then, such is true of everyone who ever lived, and all we have is to walk the path before us and make our choices based on the information available to us. If life is good, as mine is, then regret has no place in it.