Our theme for February is actually a challenge: write a piece without using first person pronouns (I, me, we, etc.)

She is under the bed when you come into the room. Waiting. When you walk by the second time, she will pounce. The quilt will shield her from questioning eyes. Only two paws and their associated fluff will be visible when you pull away to find the source of the sudden attack. Two paws—if you’re fast.

She is fast. She stays low to the ground when she leaves the safety of the shadows of her mattress and bedframe cover. But that is only when she is on the hunt. She gallops, when the mood calls for it, and saunters. Every uneven patch or the unnaturally smooth slats: her paws know the truth of the floor.

She is not your cat. She is no one’s cat. She is her own being. And yet—if you watch carefully enough—her being is not dissimilar from yours in purpose.

This floor, these walls, that bookcase and the bed: all of it is hers. She must sniff it. Patrolling her territory is key, especially on the long, cold days when the human is not around to provide cheek scratches.

(They are marvelous cheek scratches.)

She rubs her face against the kitchen cabinet doors. It is not the same. She pulls a door open for a better angle and finds the plastic bags. They crinkle. They giggle. They are a small distraction. She is forced to sit and watch them for a minute or so, keeping all four paws tucked together and her chest straight. Her eyes are vigilance. Soon she moves on.

She dips her paw into every glass she can find. The kitchen counter has several. The one on the table is empty. She sniffs the rim, just in case. Licks it. Looks for something new, but there is nothing.

She tries a bottle cap next. A white speck on the floor of the living room, the plastic circle hides behind a chair leg. The cat eyes the distance, calculating before she leaps. The floor smacks loudly against her paws, but she is already charging the bottle cap. She bats it away and then leaps at it again, back and forth, working her muscles. Training her instincts. She feels a primal growl rise in her chest. Bat. Pounce. Bat. Whirl. Bat. Leap—!

But the bottle cap has disappeared into the space beneath the big, cold, white box. She has long since learned that is a dark place from which bottle caps do not return. She does not mourn its loss. There will be other bottle caps.

It is time to bathe now and bathing takes some time. It is, somehow, what all of this has led toward, though the cat could not tell you how or why. After a short, familiar jump into her rocking chair, she circles for optimal positioning. She yawns. The back leg tickles, so she begins there. Long, grey fur matts down into more manageable, darker grey fur. Next the belly and up to the chest. Front paws next, with special attention between the toes.

She finishes the process stretched forward. A heavy lethargy spreads from her chest to her toes. The darkness of sleep settles down upon her, and she is grateful.

Elaine Schnabel
After graduating from Purdue University with an MA in communication, Elaine Schnabel moved to Indianapolis where she rolls her eyes at the electoral map while earning her MA in theology at Fuller Seminary (online). She works a variety of part time jobs and, if invited to, she will talk about her cat for hours. She dreams of being a writer, a researcher of religious communication, and a professional soccer player.

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