By Ava Casab (‘23)
Morning sunlight seeps through the cracks of the window blinds. The sun has already risen, continuing to traverse the skyline, leaving streaks of pink and purple in its wake. A blue expanse hangs above, a telltale sign of returning daytime. This is not, however, what wakes her up. Instead it is the sharp claw on her face, which she moves her hand up to combat. The feline owner of said devastating weapon sits on her chest, rather impatient as always in its pursuit of morning sustenance.
A groan escapes her lips. Of course it is now, when she finally has a day off to catch up on some much-needed rest, that she is awoken by the foul creature who proceeds to move from her stomach to her face, paws pressing into her cheekbones as she gives a soft hey in protest. Truly it is a beast, but she loves it anyway. If nothing else, at least, it gave her some alone time, as the bright numbers on her alarm clock show a time much later than when she usually gets up. She’ll take what she can get.
She immediately regrets pulling the covers over her legs and stepping onto the floor upon feeling the cold wooden floorboards hitting the bottom of her feet. She really needs to get a rug to put next to her bed. It will probably end up being from IKEA, because honestly, most of the furnishings in her one-person apartment are part of the great Swedish furniture company’s lineup. But that is a problem for the future-her, one who is not staggering out of bed to the bathroom for a wake-up splash of cold water. Afterwards, she makes her way to the closet, halfheartedly grabbing something cozy to lounge around in and then returning to the bathroom.
She exits a bit later, the aforementioned feline overlord pawing at the bathroom door, clearly seeking its owner not out of love, but rather out of a need for food that only she can provide. They have, after all, both signed (or at least she signed it- the cat just kind of stared) a mutual agreement that the cat will not destroy the sofa (again) so long as it is fed second thing every morning. The first thing is changing into suitable work (or lounge) clothes, of course. But the cat’s breakfast comes in close second. Sofas are expensive.
She tiredly makes her way out to the main living area, the cat following close behind. The sun is slightly higher in the sky now. With each passing minute the cat’s impatience only grows. She swears it is staring directly into her soul, its wide green eyes penetrating layers of flesh in pursuit of the spirit of the human that feeds it, a threat that seeps deep into her bones of promised destruction should she fail to deliver what she promises to bring. The agreement between them is fragile, and they both know this. One of them is simply better at being threatening, even at a height of only 24 centimeters.
She sighs, moving to open the fridge. She’s out of dry food, and a new bag won’t arrive until later tonight, so wet food it is. She opens the lower compartment and moves her hand around, not really looking at her movements so much as she is observing the (probably expired) container of sour cream that just so happens to be at her exact eye level. She blindly searches with her hand, but feels nothing. Maybe the containers are in the back of the drawer?
She looks down to see an empty frosted-plastic barrel of nothingness, her hand pressed against the bottom of it, seeking something that doesn’t exist.
The primary thought running through her head: oh my God I’m out of cat food.
The secondary thought running through her head: that sour cream is only, like, a month expired, I can still use it for tacos.
The tertiary thought running through her head: I wonder what kinds of sofas IKEA sells.
The quaternary thought- okay, you get the point.
She stares at the cat. The cat stares back. The cat knows, somehow. It can sense her fear from a mile away, a god in its own right, adorable and also absolutely terrifying. The cat is hungry. She has failed to provide food. The cat now has sofa destruction rights, as dictated by their agreement which she signed while the cat watched, which in her eyes is as close as she was going to get to getting the cat to actually sign a legal contract binding the two of them by law. This is not good. She has to work fast. The life of the sofa depends on her.
The cat moves to run, but she is faster than the cat, partially for storytelling purposes but also because the cat lacks sufficient agility to be able to run away from her. It probably needs to go on a diet, to be honest. She scoops it up, and just as she regretted placing her feet on the cold hardwood floor earlier that morning she immediately wants to drop the cat again as it attempts, somewhat successfully, to scratch her face off. She resists the temptation to toss it back on the ground and instead holds it further out, staring into its cold, soulless eyes.
She hisses. The cat hisses back. Obviously she does not actually speak cat. For all she knows she could have said a very strong naughty word. But it doesn’t really matter, because after she hisses again with more intent and confidence (and cat-like-ness), the cat doesn’t reply, instead electing to emit a sound akin to a sigh before beginning to squirm again in her arms. She lets it back onto the floor. It looks up at her. It just wants food. All it wants is food. Give me food, its eyes say.
She opens the fridge again and pulls out a piece of conveniently mostly-thawed salmon.
That cat is lucky she loves it so much.
The sofa is probably pretty happy too.