Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Tabby's Return

...The cat's sudden appearance under the breezeway startled me, jarring my windup into an awkward stumble over a divot in the sod.

I'd been throwing the tennis ball into the brick fascia for the bulk of the afternoon, negotiating a positive outlook over playing for Walnut Creek next summer. The attempt was pointless.

With every pitch my anger intensified. It stewed in my chest like boiling water. I imagined billowing steam being absorbed into the muscles of my throwing arm. Could almost taste the vapor seeping from every available pore. Pop, bounce, breath.

Berlin was my home. My friends were here. My team. My school. And yet, with the ease of flipping a light switch, my parents were about to take it away, changing the very landscape they themselves provided for me only a few years earlier. And all for another attempt at making things right. Even if it felt so very wrong.

None of us had seen the cat since returning from Washington. We'd thought perhaps he'd moved on in our absence. Yet there he was, poised on weary haunches, considering my emotional state with calm reserve. I hadn't noticed him sitting there until that moment, never sensed his presence nearby.

Feeling the muscles in my arm growing stiff, I turned my back to the tabby and threw another pitch. Then another. Pop, bounce, breath.

Now I did feel the cat's gaze. Ageless golden gems piercing holes into my back. I offered him a glance, then threw. Pop, bounce, breath.

I'd always thought cats tended to follow movement. An insatiable desire to stalk anything considered a possible threat, or their next meal. But with every pitch, the tabby never once took interest in the ball's trajectory, choosing to focus its attention on me instead.

Unnerved, I finally turned and answered his stare with one of my own. A boy and a cat, caught up in a moment of solace. His face revealed no purpose driving its behavior. With the exception of an occasional twitch from a partially mangled ear, his expression was vacant.

My breathing slowed. My anger grew tolerant. The question left my mouth with little thought in advance. "Well, what am I supposed to do?"

Unblinking, he tilted his head as if to say, "Come on kid, be reasonable. I'm a cat."

When at last he sauntered off, I half expected him to do so on two legs, hunched over an ancient cane crafted from a downed hickory...

...the results of some late night doodling while sweating through revisions and re-writes. A ten year old boy with a problem, and an ageless tom with an apparent answer...but so far he's not talking.

Thanks for reading:)


Judy Croome said...

Loved it! As a confirmed 'cat person' all my life, I can say with authority you captured the essence of The Cat perfectly. And the interaction between human and cat.

Great doodle!

Hope the revisions are going as well! :)

The Golden Eagle said...

Nice doodle! I live with five cats, and that's exactly what they do. :P

Larry Hyatt said...

Very nice. Pop, bounce, breath.

Terry Stonecrop said...

Impressive doodle! I like that the cat apparently has the answer but so far he's not talking:) Nice.

Melissa said...

I'm a cat person and I have to say, you captured the essence of cat beautifully. Your descriptions are always so evocative, so spot on. I love it.

Nice little doodle.

The Words Crafter said...

Some memories are like snapshots and you've created a great one here. Cats are mysterious....and I'm wondering what this one would say to the young boy. He seems to have 'experienced' a lot of life and would have a lot of wisdom to offer....

Carolyn V. said...

This is so good Elliot! I was a cat girl growing up. My kids are allergic, so we can't have any in the house. I miss them.

Good luck on the revisions! =)

Jemi Fraser said...

I love this - pop, bounce, breath is a great visual and emotional line for me.

Piedmont Writer said...

Beautiful Elliot, simply beautiful.
Such heartbreak for a little boy, such wisdom from a feline without saying a word.

Julie Musil said...

I loved that! Well done...

Robert Guthrie said...

"Ageless golden gems piercing holes into my back." Wow.

Amie B said...

beautiful, poetic writing. love it!

Elliot Grace said...

Thanks for reading:)

Just to clarify, I'm actually a dog guy, but have been "blessed" with cats thanks to my sister, and years later, now my daughter. The feline is a unique animal. Tell a dog to approach, he does. Issue the same offer to a cat, it turns his back to you and saunters off as if saying, "Yeah whatever. Talk to the butt."

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Eloquent, heartfelt, and natural.

When in pain, we tunnelvison, don't we? And it is often the intrusion of a living creature that brings us back to ourselves and to the answer that was always there.

Like the others felt, "pop, bounce, breathe" was a great mantra.

Thanks for the kind words on my blog, Roland

Helen Ginger said...

I'm wanting to know what it is that his parents are trying to make right. And whether the cat is just a cat or something else.

I enjoyed this!

Straight From Hel

Donna Hole said...

Hello Elliot:

I've seen you around a few blog I frequent, and ever stopped by to lurk a few times. Its been a while though.

I really enjoy your style of writing. And your writing voice. It almost lyrcal. It flows so well, and keeps me engaged and interested completely. (I think I'd recognize it anywhere you commented even if you posted annonymous.)

I'm glad you finally posted the Versatile blogger award (hmm, I think I have that one wasting away in my to-do posts list. It was a pleasure getting to know you and your family. And congrats on getting BROKEN accepted.


Elliot Grace said...

...thanks so much for everyone's comments.

Revisions have been moving along quite well as of late. The title however is a different matter. Due in part to the overwhelming amount of novels titled, "Broken," my publisher has notified me that their investigating other avenues and wanted my opinion.

My reply..."Okay, let's play a little."

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Thanks for such nice comments on my blog. They were certainly appreciated.

Sunday, I'm having a guest blogger. Death. I couldn't say no. Really. How do you say no to Death?
Have a great week, Roland

Talli Roland said...

Really enjoyed this!You get a perfect sense of the cat.

LTM said...

hey, I like this! Very evocative, and you're a really good writer. Plus I like cats. ;p

all the best~

RaShelle said...

Hey Elliot - Your comment on my blog a few days ago stirred up quite a hornet's nest inside me. And I wanted to say thank you. Complacency is never helpful & I think I might've been getting there. You were an unaware hero and I appreciate it!!!! =D

And good writing. The boy taking out his frustration on the ball & the cat allowing him to pause - good.

Crimey said...


My favorite line of the piece: "Ageless golden gems piercing holes into my back."
Cats are evil, I hope your MC knows that ;)

This is really good, the descriptions are spot on. Give me your brain for writing. I promise to never give it back!

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

You did that in between all your other work?!

Olivia J. Herrell said...

This made me cry. Is it your lyrical writing? The subject matter? Both? Who knows. It is definitely evocative.

My cat comes when I call. About 85%of the time. :)

~that rebel, Olivia

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