by Oliver Flint


          I never liked cats.
          To be honest, I’m not fond of most animals, but cats are the worst.
          They’re aloof, they scratch, they’re expensive, and I’m allergic. That’s why I wasn’tecstatic when I saw one on my front lawn one dark Wednesday night. At first, I just saw a vague shadowy shape; I thought it might be a rabbit. Imagine my disappointment when I could makeout those stubby, feline ears. I started towards it, to try and scare it off. To my surprise (and somewhat to my dismay) it moved towards me, not away. It slinked up until it was about a yard off, and then spontaneously sprawled on its back, meowing softly.
          What the hell? I thought, keeping my distance. My mind told me that I ought to kick it, but my heart told me to show some mercy. As my internal struggle raged on, the cat timidly approached. It got very close, very nearly too close, and then suddenly veered off and sprawled on its back again, only this time on the street. It meowed some more and I ventured closer, slowly building up the courage to interact with this animal. As I did, the cat got up off its back and moved towards me, almost touching my leg as it moved past. I crouched down, unsure of whether to reach out and pet it or run back inside as fast as possible. It did another walk-by, just brushing my leg this time. I was perplexed; every other experience I had had with cats before had been negative, but this was … different.
          I walked a few feet away, just to get into my driveway and out of the street. I made a clicking noise at the cat like I had heard cat owners do before (sort of a ‘tsk’ sound), not knowing what to expect, when to my surprise it came to me. We did the same little dance as before, and again I crouched and again it brushed my leg, but this time it made a small purring sound. It sounded so pleased with itself in the most annoyingly cat-like way.
          I stepped back to start moving towards my house. Suddenly, the cat began coughing. I was concerned, but being neither a doctor nor a veterinarian, I was unsure of what to do. I had heard about cats getting hairballs, and I figured that this was probably something like that. As I walked up my driveway, the cat followed, albeit about a foot or so behind. When I reached myside door, I looked back for the cat. It had stopped about a yard short of the door, just out of the reach of the light that hung on the side of the house. I clicked at it again, trying to coax it out of the shadows. No response. I shrugged, opened the door, and crossed the threshold back into my busy, loud, civilized home, away from the bizarre quiet of nature.
          I was preoccupied with the cat for the next few hours. Most of the thoughts were procedural questions: Was it getting food? Did it have owners? Was the coughing indicative of alarger illness? Do cats get sick, or are they just nine-lived devil-creatures?

          However, the cat’s behavior also perplexed me on a deeper level.  In my experience, catswere loners: they did their own thing and didn’t play well with others. But this time was clearly different. The cat obviously wanted to be around me, to be close to me; the most aloof creature was realizing its need to connect with other living things, and maybe I had that need too.


Author Biograhpy: Oliver Flint is not traditionally handsome. He is a senior at Milton High School and plans to study political science in college. His hobbies include debate, watching Wes Anderson films, and, occasionally, writing.