Mochi sat in the tall grasses at the edge of the field waiting. For what? For Nibbler and Babe to come romping up the hill? For Majora to flush out a mouse? Whomever she waited for never came.
She had the saddest eyes I’d ever seen.
We had to do something. So when Tanvi took Bosko for his evening walk, I rode along on the breeze.
You’ve always wanted a cat, I whispered to her. We have room now!
When we spied a fine tuxedoed Tom following her, I whispered to Bosko, Kitty! Go make friends!
He stopped and turned towards the Tom.
“What’s this now, Boskie? You like that cat?”
I liked the cat, too. He had a long tale to tell of fishing boats and salmon heads, lobster traps and bait, wharf mice and cans of beer.
“Would you like to come home with us?” Tanvi asked, but he turned and trotted off, too fond of his scavenging days to trade them in for a full dinner bowl and a quilted bed.
Head on down to the wharf, I whispered to Tanvi.
Near the fishmonger’s stall, she met a white Cornish Rex.
“You’re beautiful,” she said.
But the Rex hissed at her and arched his back at Bosko before dashing under the stacked crab pots.
A beautiful Himalayan trotted by.
Quick! Introduce yourself! I whispered, but it was too late. She’d passed us by.
Beside a pile of yesterday’s bait sat a white-faced Maine coon cat.
Oh, he’s lovely, I whispered to Tanvi.
Bosko seemed to like him, but the cat gave Bosko the stink-eye.
Look, trash! I whispered to Bosko, to distract him from the cat.
“Oh, aren’t you something!” Tanvi said. “Yes, you like me, too, don’t you!”
And the coon cat did seem to like Tanvi, unlike the Rex, who had come up behind Tanvi, growling quietly under his breath.
But the coon cat, too, trotted off before Tanvi could suggest that he might follow them home for a proper meal and a fur-brushing.
I blew home before them to do some thinking. There’s nothing like slipping inside of an object, especially one that carries symbolic significance, like a supper bowl, to do some serious pondering.
She would just have to try again. It was that simple. I realized that this would take an actual conversation, not just my subtle whispers.
By the time I slid out of the bowl, Tanvi had already gone to sleep.
But Lucas was awake. He would deliver my message. I joined him for a midnight snack in the front garden.
“How is Tanvi?” I asked.
“She’s all right?” he said. “Well, not really? The doctor says she’s got something with her heart?”
“Oh, but she seems so strong!”
“She is!” Lucas said. “I think she’s OK really? What do doctors know.”
“Did she tell you she always wanted another cat?” I said. “But we didn’t have room. We have room now.”
Lucas brightened at that.
“I’d love another cat!” he said.
“You know,” I prompted, “she might not feel like she should get one, if she’s worried about her health. But, personally, I think a household cat would be the best medicine!”
“Of course it would!” Lucas said. “And Mochi’s lonely, too? And I miss Majora? If we got a new cat, we’d all be happy! Bosko and Bartie, too!”
“There are so many cats down at the wharf,” I said. “Maybe you should suggest to her that she take a walk down there tomorrow.”
“That’s a great idea!” Lucas said.
“And maybe,” I suggested, “this time Bosko should stay home.”
When the sun came up, I hovered, formless and unseen, at the edge of the breakfast table.
“Mochi is lonely,” Lucas said. “She misses Majora.”
“I do, too,” said Tanvi.
“Maybe we could get another cat.”
“Really?” Tanvi perked up. “I’ve always wanted another cat.”
So after breakfast, leaving Bosko, Bartholomew, and Mochi at home with Lucas, Tanvi walked back down to the wharf, and I followed on the breeze.
We found a beautiful spotted cat. I fell in love. But she trotted off before agreeing to come home with Tanvi.
I suppose some cats like their freedom. They may like pets and kind words, but they also like the big sky, the sea breeze, the seagulls’ call. They like the tall scaffolding and the empty crates, the moonlight and the night prowls.
But some cats like a warm bed and a dry house.
A beautiful cat, with the face of an otter and the thick fur of a coatimundi, slowly approached Tanvi.
“Aren’t you sweet?” Tanvi said.
And the cat mewed back in echo.
Oh, Tanvi, she loves you! I whispered.
And it did indeed seem that she did.
“Would you like to belong with us?” Tanvi asked. “That is, we would belong to you!”
The otter-cat mewed back and pawed at Tanvi’s knee.
“You want to be picked up, do you?” Tanvi asked.
Otter snuggled into the crook of her arm and batted at her hair.
“Then it’s a deal!” Tanvi said.
Before turning back home, I saw sorrow’s shadow behind Tanvi’s eyes. It’s a look I know well. She’d be joining me soon, and right then, she was taking it all in, believing it possible that this might be the last time she would see the wharf with her own two eyes.
We have different eyes, in the After, eyes not of the body but of the soul. And they see even more true. They see through it all to beauty. Tanvi didn’t know that yet, but she would soon.
And Otter? Otter had eyes of love, the happy eyes of a cat who has finally found a home.