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  • Writer's pictureSean

Seated by the Cat

I walk into the living room where my mom and dad are already sitting. Couches surround the leather ottoman that makes up the center square in our little town. A peaceful interior, where cats, dogs and people convene for chess, drinks and to read. My parents don’t look up from their books when I take a seat a cushion away from the orange cat.

I haven’t seen him much lately, he spends most of his time outside. Right now he’s asleep, curled up peacefully in the corner against the armrest. The dog watches me, envious, and comes up to smell the cat’s face. I brush her aside, knowing this cat, this veteran, has earned his moment of peace. Running my hand along his back and behind his neck I begin to understand him just a bit better. His ear is healing from a puncture wound, there are scabs on his neck and back. I gently remove bits of dried blood from various locations on his body. A few days ago he came inside with a bloody face, one eye swollen shut. Now, eyes closed, he leans into the messages I offer him.

I’m here to read, so I pull my hand back to keep turning the pages. After a while I look back at him. I realize, we live in the same house but in different dimensions. I know lately he’s fought off other cats, raccoons and possibly a possum to defend his turf - our property from invasion. He’s only ever inside a few hours a day, to rest and to peacefully lounge, receiving occasional attention from his “owners” whose gift of food is not a guarantee, as its contested by birds during the day, and larger animals with canine teeth at night. He is a veteran, a fighter for our territory when we are asleep, though I admit I react to a raccoon sighting much as a tourist would to an interesting attraction.

I pet him some more, encouraged by his purring I scratch everywhere, finding new scabs and long healed ones that haven’t escaped his fur. I remove them from him as he takes a new position in my lap. Now his head rests on my knee and his purring like the droning of an idling engine vibrates my leg. His name comes to mind. Turbo. Really Turbo II. When we lived in another house we had another tabby cat, Turbo. I have a memory of a car hitting him, though I can't honestly say if they're woven from stories or the images of the tragic event itself.

I close my book, which hasn't gotten the attention it deserves anyway, and watch my parents. They too may as well be in different dimensions, lost as they are in whatever stories they voraciously consume. Turbo is by now returned to his slumber. I am pinned down by my desire to remain a comfort to his Spartan life.

Soon I will be heading to bed, but not before he will meow a command for me to open the gates and lift the drawbridge that he might sally forth and face his nightly foes. I know he will sit calmly as my hand reaches the handle, probably licking his paw for dramatic effect. We cohabit this house, but we are not family, and he is not our cat. He is some kind of other-dimensional warrior that eats from our food stores, and snuggles with us when he so desires. Otherwise, we have nothing in common except for the space we share.

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