The cats are worried.
You can just see it in their eyes. Okay, one eye. The one eye they might open when I walk by or clear my throat or sigh deeply.
You see, I'm too quiet. They're used to loud, frantic me. Quiet, contemplative me makes them so nervous they can barely manage their busy days of napping, eating, and visiting the litterbox. I don't know what it is that bothers them so. Are they so dependent on routine that they're afraid I'm going to take to my bed and stop feeding them? Is my depression casting such a pall over the household that it makes it hard for them to concentrate on licking their butts?
In a desperate attempt to get a rise out of me, they sent the baby in to do her thing. She started small by cuddling up to me as I sat staring at the laptop screen. I petted her distractedly. She walked across my keyboard, I just lifted her up and put her out of the room and shut the door. She was persistent. The next time I opened the door, she scampered in and hid under the bed. Once I settled back in front of my computer, she sneaked out, leaped to the back of my chair, from there launched herself up to the top of the television and meeped until I stopped what I was doing and looked up at her.
"Yes?" Until my dying day I will probably speak to animals as if they will respond.
She meeped again. She doesn't know how to meow.
"Come down from there before you break your neck." I turned back to my computer where I've been rescuing PoliTits blog posts from my rss feed. I heard the screeching sound of claws on plastic and looked up in time to see the small cat lose her footing, tumbling through the air, taking down a framed picture, righting herself in time to land on the stack dvds perched on the top of the dvd player, sending the dvds crashing to the floor and making the last leap to the foot of our bed where she sat triumphantly licking her shoulder as if absolutely nothing had happened.
I looked from her to the path of destruction in her wake. The picture frame's glass was broken, the dvds boxes made a colorful collage at my feet. I leaned over to see how much glass there was to clean up and decided that I'd handle it later.
"That was graceful," I said to the cat who had curled into a ball, but continued to watch me with one eye.
I went back to work, alternately saving old posts and working on my NaNoWriMo project. It's up to 8,100 words already. I've realized that no matter how much I might try to plan out a novel, once I start writing, the story goes its own way. Does it surprise anyone that I lack discipline? I'm on Chapter Four and there are already two characters that I didn't know existed.
The cat snored softly behind me while I typed with Eric Satie playing in the background. I'd watched enough of the the post-election coverage to be sufficiently annoyed and depressed. Reflecting my mood, the sky was a study in gray and the house seemed chilly. Reading old blog posts felt a bit dispiriting. I started blogging because of the political climate in 2006. As I scrolled through the posts, it became apparent that in four years, not a lot had changed for most of us.
I clicked on the Word document that holds my new manuscript and wrote for a while before finally taking a break. I stood and stretched. The cat slept on.
When I went to the kitchen for more coffee, our oldest cat, Daisy, a twelve year old tortoiseshell who spends most of her day soaking up the warmth radiating from the bottom of the refrigerator, meowed before creakily pulling herself up and moving away. Normally, I have to move her while apologizing if I want to open the fridge. Even when I apologize, she bites me.
"Thanks, Daisy." I don't like to move her. It seems wrong to disturb her, like harassing someone's grandma, that's how old she is. I bent down and scratched her under chin. When I finished, she bumped my hand with her nose then walked out of the kitchen.
I poured my coffee and headed back to the bedroom where I now do most of my writing. When I got upstairs, I heard voices.
"So what did she do?"
"What? She didn't scream? She didn't stomp or threaten to spank your catbutt?"
"No. Nothing. She didn't even get out of her chair."
"This is bad, you guys. Really bad."
"Yeah, she's not herself."
"What are we going to do?"
"I don't know, but if she doesn't snap out of it soon, we're going to have to do something drastic."
"Hairball on the carpet?"
"Hide under her bed and jump on her chest at 3am?"
"Bad aim in the litterbox?"
"Oh, I know! Tip over the trashcan!"
"Listen, those are all good, but none of them will cut it. Not this time."
"I have an idea."
Things got quiet for a moment until I heard the sound of my laptop keyboard.
Just then, the floor under me creaked. From where I stood in the hallway, I could see four cat heads turn and look in my direction. The fifth, the one I assumed was the ringleader wasn't standing in the clump with the others. He blinked at me from his perch on the keyboard. The screen behind him was blank.
I stalked over to the desk. "Did you delete my story?"
"You realize I have autosave, right?"
His sea foam green eyes slid over to the others.
"And I email that document to myself like the compulsive I am."
He stood and stretched, arching his back before he jumped to the floor and strolled away, his entourage following.
I sat down, clicked the mouse and and scrolled up. The document was still there and intact. As far as I could tell, the last words I'd typed remained unchanged. Not ready to get back to work, I clicked on my browser. My Facebook page was open and at the top it read: Lisa Golden likes the Tea Party and Sarah Palin 2012.
"Tiger! What the hell?" I bellowed.
Right before I heard them scatter, I swear I heard one of them announce "She's back!"
Earthquake, tidal wave, tsunami, tempest in a teacup......
Do you talk to animals? Are you feeling energized or out of breath? Want a cat?