Author's notes: Kitty's POV. I put a lot of humor in this part, so it's not as sad as part 1, although I heard there were still a fair amount of sniffles. I hope you enjoy.
Elegy, Part 2
I never would have guessed that my death would break her heart.
When I first met Brenda, I was taken aback by the sharp-tongued woman who clearly didn't want me around. I admit, my grooming wasn't so great back then, but I hear you shouldn't judge a book from its cover. After all, what did I do wrong? I wasn't the one who killed my beloved Mistress Zoya. I was heartbroken over her death, didn't this mean lady comprehend that? I instantly ran and hid, because I didn't want to leave my house, the house I shared with Zoya.
Zoya found me in a shelter when I was still a kitten. I had been living on the streets for awhile, so I was grateful to be in a place that where I got fed regularly, but I really wanted to have a home again. One day, this pretty lady came in, and she caught my attention immediately. She seemed so sad, much too sad for such a young girl, and I could feel misery rolling off of her in waves. I was very good at sensing human feelings, better than most cats, and I knew I could give her the comfort she needed. As she walked past my cage, I stuck a paw out and snagged my claws on her shirt. She stopped and looked at me, smiling. Zoya took me out of my cage and I instantly curled up against her neck and started to purr (humans just love the purring thing). She didn't even bother to look at any other cats that day; she knew I was the one.
Living with Zoya was even better than I could have imagined. She had a beautiful house with many windows to sit in, and lots of soft furniture to take my naps. But the best part of my new life was Zoya herself. She showered me with affection, fed me treats like fish and liver, and bought me the best toys. She named me Lubilaya, which means "beloved" in Russian. She also spoke to me about everything and nothing, usually in her native tongue, and I knew I was her only confidant.
Humans usually think that we cats don't understand them when they talk to us. Duh. Of course we understand. It doesn't matter if they use English or Russian, or any other language, we still understand. What humans don't realize is that they speak very loudly with their hearts, and all felines need to do was to look in their eyes and we comprehend every word. Too bad the communication isn't reciprocal. Humans don't get that everything we say is in our meow, and if they just paid attention, they would know exactly what we are thinking. We also rely on body language, rubbing against them, giving them head butts, and in extreme situations, we create a little havoc to get our point across. Brenda, for instance, could never figure out when I was telling her she was working to hard and needed to relax by giving me some cuddles, so I would climb up on the table and knock off a stack of case files. If she didn't get the hint the first several times, I would give up and settle for simply staring at her, hoping she would read my eyes and know I was worried about her. She never did.
But back to my beloved Zoya. She told me everything about her life, how she came to America and what she had to do to get here. She talked about how lonely she was, and how much she hated what she had become. When she cried, which was frequently, I would curl up to her as close as I could get, and she would put her arms around me and lay her head on my body, her tears soaking through my thick fur. I felt so very bad for her, but all I could do was give her as much love as I could. She often cried after the men who came to our house every day had gone, and then she would wipe her eyes, put on more makeup, and wait for the next man. I don't know who these men were and why they didn't stay for very long, but I didn't like them. I always made sure to hide until they left, and then I went in search of Zoya, in case she was upset again.
I will never forget that horrible, horrible day when the one man who came over and stayed longer, Nick, started to scream at Zoya. I hid under the bed, and when Zoya started screaming in pain, I grew terrified. I waited until Nick had left before I crawled out to find Zoya, in case she needed me, and I found her right away, on the bed, but something was terribly wrong. There was blood everywhere, and Zoya was very still. I jumped up and licked her face, crawled on her chest with my claws out, and even nipped at her fingers, but she still didn't move. I curled up on Zoya's chest and waited for someone to come. It was a long time, and I had grown very hungry, but finally a bunch of men in blue uniforms showed up. I sensed that they weren't friendly, so I ran quickly out of the bedroom and darted underneath the couch. When they finally left, Zoya was gone. I knew she was dead because I couldn't feel her heart beating when I was lying on her chest, but when she wasn't on the bed anymore. I was alone again.
A few days later a couple of ladies came to the house, and I watched them surreptitiously from my vantage point in the laundry room. One of the ladies seemed very nice and soft-spoken, and the other seemed cold and harsh. Hoping the nice one would take pity on me and feed me, I darted across the house so I could be seen. And just my luck, the cranky lady picked up the phone and called the Pound! Really, I was so offended. Couldn't she at least try and find me another home or something? Thank goodness the nice lady found my food and filled my bowl. I glared at the grumpy lady, whom I later found out was named Brenda, but she paid me no mind. Harrumph. They finally left, but at least I was given enough food to last for a couple of days. The Pound didn't come for me, but in preparation, I had found some really ingenious hiding places. The idea of the Pound sent shivers down my shackles. Rumors I've heard say that once you go to the Pound, you never get out, so there was no way I was going to let them find me. I just kept my paws crossed and hoped that whomever moved into the house next would realize I belonged there, and let me stay, even if they weren't as wonderful as Zoya.
But wouldn't you know it…it was the grumpy lady, I mean Brenda, who bought the house. The first time she came to show it to the handsome man, I made my presence known, just to remind her that the place came fully furnished, cat and all. To my great surprise, she stamped her foot and said she was mad Animal Control never came to pick me up. Nice, I thought, real nice. This is my house, for Bast's* sake! I don't take up a lot of space, I don't eat much, and I keep a clean litter box, so let me stay already! I tried to tell her that when she lured me closer with food and then grabbed me, but she didn't recognize my hiss which meant hands off, sister.
But she never made me leave. Brenda fed me every day, gave me water, and cleaned out my litter box, cursing up a storm each time she did it. I was offended—I didn't smell that bad! But she didn't buy me toys, or try to make friends with me at all. I followed her around because I was curious about her, but she didn't pay much attention to me. This lady wasn't very nice, so I wasn't going to go all Morris on her and try and get her to love me. It was her loss.
It went on this way for awhile, until one night, I heard a sound I hadn't heard in awhile. Brenda was crying. I didn't even know she was capable of crying, to be honest. I walked into the bedroom cautiously and saw her curled up on the bed, crying so hard her shoulders were shaking. What the hell, I thought. She's sad, and I'm a very good comforter. I jumped up on the bed and gingerly lay down next to her. She opened her red eyes in surprise, and for a second, I was worried she was going to yell at me again. But instead, she slowly put her arm around me, and I scooted even closer. It felt so good to be this close to a human again. Slowly Brenda's sobs slowed, as did her breathing, and she fell asleep. After a few hours I crawled out from under her arm to give her one of my world famous relaxing scalp massages. For some reason this woke her up, and she pulled me off of her, my claws tangled up in her long blonde curls. I then moved on to another tactic, the full body chest press, with a side of purrs. At first she didn't seem to like me on her chest, but she made no attempts to move me. And I was so glad, because her slow, steady heartbeat felt so good to me.
After that, we both made an effort to be friends. I did the cat things that humans just eat up, like running to the door when I heard keys in the lock, weaving through their legs, and hopping up in their laps whenever they sat down. Brenda turned out to be a pushover. She bought me all kinds of toys and gave me cat treats all the time. She started talking to me too, just like Zoya did, telling me about her day and complaining about the people she worked with. I figured out Brenda was a boss, and that explained why she could be so cranky. Brenda went on and on about someone named "Pope" and "Taylor" a lot, and I wish I could beat them up for her. That will teach them to mess with my Brenda! Of course, I don't have opposable thumbs, so I couldn't really punch them, but I'm sure I could think of something nasty.
Our alone time didn't last all that long, because soon, a guy named Fritz started hanging out a lot. At first I was mad, because it cut down on the attention I got, but there was something about Fritz that I really liked. He was gentle and sweet, and he always said nice things to Brenda, unlike the men in Zoya's life. And I must admit, not that I'm in favor of cross-species love affairs or anything, but my goodness, was Fritz a looker. I did get a little miffed when he started sharing our bed, because I was there first. But I found that once they settled down in the bedroom at night, I could sneak in and make myself comfy on Brenda's chest just like when we were alone. Even when Fritz moved in, I didn't care. He was always willing to give me ear scritches and pets, and he even snuck me food off his plate when Brenda wasn't looking.
The thing about being a cat is that you have amble opportunity to observe the humans you live with. They don't pay that much attention to you unless you are front and center, so I spent hours watching Brenda and Fritz. That's how I knew everything that went on in the house, much more so than the humans ever did. When Fritz was out, Brenda would take a flowered box out from under the bed and look through a bunch of pictures with a sad look on her face. Sometimes she cried. One night, after Brenda and Fritz got into a big fight and Fritz stormed out, she threw away the flowered box. I never understood why. Many nights I watched Fritz pace the living room, cell phone in hand, whispering curses under his breath in between trying to reach Brenda. I watched him toss and turn in bed, despite my comforting scalp massages, until Brenda came home from work in the middle of the night and snuck into the bed. Sometime I thought she didn't treat Fritz right. If he were my man, I would give him all the love and kisses he deserved…oh right, I can't, I'm a cat. Oh, and best of all was watching Brenda sneak out of bed after Fritz had fallen asleep and pull out a box or two of Ho-Ho's from her big black purse. I gathered from their fights that she wasn't supposed to eat them, which might explain why she tiptoed through the house and hid Ho-Ho's in drawers, behind pictures, in the fabric softener box in the laundry room…I really had to admire her creativity. Even funnier was when Fritz found the Ho-Ho's in bizarre places, like tucked in Brenda's box of Tampons in the bathroom, because he would throw a fit. Or he would laugh out loud, shaking his head. Either way, the confiscated treats were tossed, and the enjoyment was furthered for me as I watched Brenda's shock when she found her stealth treats were missing. She would turn and look suspiciously at me, because who else would have found them in the top shelf of the closet, tucked in her white hat? I really wanted to roll my eyes at her when I was falsely accused. What I going to do with them, bat the package around the house like a big toy? I think not.
I'm not really sure why I ran away that one time. I guess I was itching to get out, because Zoya used to let me out every day, and I found it was hard strictly being an indoor cat. Sure, it had it's benefits, like safety and food, but I wasn't just a cat, I was a ferocious beast who needed to hunt. So I darted out the door when Brenda opened it and ran as hard as I could into the dark night. It felt so good to be free. I quickly sprinted through the neighbors' yards, and ignored both Brenda and Fritz as they called to me. I wasn't ready to come home, so I ran a little further away and hid in a tree. I felt guilty, because I knew Brenda would be upset, but sometimes you just can't resist the call of the wild.
The next day I met a sexy, irresistible Tomcat with sleek black fur, and fell under his seductive spell. I wasn't one to have sex on the first date, but I was in heat, so my hormones drowned out my morals. When we finished, he quickly ran off, and I hissed. Men! Always after one thing.
Two days into my adventure, I decide to cut it short. Catching and eating live mice for dinner just wasn't as fun as it looks like in the movies. I missed my food bowl, my favorite scratching chair, and most of all, my Brenda. Lucky for me, the front door was wide open when I got home, and their lay a bowl of kibble right in my line of site. I trotted in and started eating, only to be interrupted by the thud of the door shutting behind me. Brenda sat down next to me and started to scold me, telling me how bad I was and that I looked like a mess. I stared at her, insulted. It's not like she looked like a goddess after working a couple days straight! Besides, if she took a tumble with Mr. Tomcat, she wouldn't look all that great either. But despite her words, I could tell that she was very relieved to see me, and I was touched. I vowed no more running away. Well, at least in the near future. It just made Brenda too upset.
I couldn't believe Brenda didn't notice I was pregnant. Of course, she didn't know about my liaison with Mr. Tomcat, but really, I was getting bigger and bigger by the day. She actually thought I was getting fat, and tried to cut my food down. Now is not the time for a diet, lady, I told her very clearly, and she got the hint. Food supplies became adequate again, and combined with Fritz's table scraps, the kittens inside me grew quite large. And Brenda still didn't notice. I thought she was a detective of some sorts, but maybe not. After all, she thought I was a boy for some reason. Well, giving birth should clue her in to start referring to me as a "she."
When the time came, I crawled into her laundry basket, trying to breathe through the pain and prepare myself for birthing a mess of kittens. When Brenda found me, I thought, finally, she'll figure out what's going on! But no, she thought I was sick. Good thing she went into law enforcement and not medicine, I'll tell you what. Instead of staying with me and helping me through labor, she did the weirdest thing: she put me in a pillow case and took me to her car! Do you know how uncomfortable a pillow case is when you have kittens in your belly trying to get out? I could have clawed her eyes out for that. Finally the car stopped, and I was carried inside. I could hear lots of voices, but I was in too much pain to listen. Then--get this--she handed me over to a complete stranger. I wanted to cry. Didn't she love me any more? Why was she doing this to me? Good thing she didn't have kids, I thought bitterly, she'd probably eat her young.
Much to my relief, I was taken out at the vet's and given a safe place to have my kittens. A couple hours later, I was the proud momma of six beautiful little ones. Well, they weren't really beautiful yet; mainly they looked like hairless mice. But I could tell they were going to have my beautiful fur, except maybe one, who I was sure was going to look like his no-good father.
To my surprise, it was Fritz who picked us up at the vet's, and he was none too pleased to have us in his car. I was a little hurt. He kept muttering that if one of us peed in his new car blah blah blah… I tried to tell him that if someone would spring for a cat carrier, it wouldn't be a problem. But then Brenda got in the car, and the two of them started arguing about a pair of earrings from that Pope guy, and they stopped paying attention to me and my new family.
I guess Brenda didn't trust me to take care of my kittens by myself, because she packed us up in a box and took us to work with her every day. Not that I minded, really. People stopped by all day and cooed over my kittens, and gave me pets too. And the best part was, I finally got to meet the Pope and Taylor men Brenda was always talking about. It took one look and I could tell both of them were jerks, and I decided to make them pay for harassing my Brenda. I asked Izzy, my smartest kitten, to climb up Taylor's leg. I know nothing is more painful to a human than to have a kitten repel themselves up your leg using claws instead of crampons. Taylor howled with pain and tried to shake Izzy out of his pant legs, but Brenda immediately reprimanded him for trying to hurt one of her cats. Taylor said "yes Ma'am" through tight lips as he reached up his pant leg and extracted Izzy from his skin. As soon as Taylor left, Brenda started laughing.
As far as Pope, well, I sensed that he was by far the worst of the two, so I decided on a two-step approach. First, I waited for him to lean over the desk opposite of Brenda, a common stance that seemed like he was intentionally trying to annoy her. His tie, as usual, came out of his jacket and dangled like a plaything. So I jumped up on Brenda's lap, leapt toward Pope, and sunk my claws into his wayward tie. Pope let out a string of obscenities as he tried to disengage my claws, which he was able to do with Brenda's help. I was more than pleased to see several large pulls left on his tie. He yelled at Brenda about how expensive his tie was, and cats shouldn't be in the workplace to begin with. Brenda apologized profusely, but I could tell she wasn't upset in the least. In fact, she fed me some of her tuna sandwich when Pope left. For phase Two of my plan, I asked Buffy, my second smartest kitten, to be as quiet as possible, sneak over to Pope, and pee on his shoe. Buffy took the first opportunity she could to do this, which happened to be when there were several other people in Brenda's office for some type of meeting. As Pope blustered out a bunch of nonsense, Taylor right next to him along with a few other men in suits, Buffy carefully avoided ruffling Pope's pant leg and proceeded to pee on the top of his shoe. Pope didn't even notice until Buffy was almost done. She caught his eye, and then he looked down at the wet spot on his shoe. His face went even redder than it was to begin with, but he said nothing, just continued to yell. Apparently, he was too proud of a man to admit in a meeting that a kitten just whizzed on his foot. As everyone left he stealthily took some Kleenexes from Brenda's desk and bent down to quickly wipe of the pee, tossing the tissue in the trash and walking out the door as he glared at Brenda. Ha ha, take that, tormentor of my mistress, I thought, feeling immensely proud of myself and my offspring. No one messes with Brenda without repercussions of the feline variety.
Finally Brenda stopped bringing us to work because the kittens were now eight weeks old and could stay at home with just me tending to them. I knew what would come next, but I was prepared for it. She was going to find my babies new homes. I felt sad, terribly sad, but this is what it means to have kittens. They all have to leave home some day to find their own humans. One by one, my kitties were taken by nice people who seemed to be friends of Fritz. A couple of them even two kittens, which was nice that they would always have each other. I wished that Brenda kept one of the kitties for us, but alas, they were all adopted, and it was back to Brenda, Fritz and me. And that was okay.
I knew something was wrong with me long before Fritz broke the news to Brenda. I was peeing up a storm in the litter box, and I felt too nauseous to eat. I was throwing up a lot, but I tried to be considerate and just barf in hidden places like under furniture so that Brenda and Fritz wouldn't have to look at it. Finally I started to feel too tired to run around much, and that is when Fritz became concerned. Against Brenda's wishes he took me to the vet's who poked and prodded me and drew blood. Something not too good must have been found in those blood tests, because after the vet called, things got unpleasant. Twice a day, Brenda or Fritz had to stick a big needle under my skin and force a bunch of fluid into me through a tube. It tickled. It that wasn't bad enough, Brenda stuck me with another needle and gave me more medication. If wasn't feeling so sick, I would have given her the message loud and clear that I didn't appreciate this at all. But I was too tired to even protest, and Brenda told me what a good Kitty I was. I wasn't being good, I was just too weak to protest.
Soon, moving around seemed like too much effort, so I lay on the couch on my favorite blanket. Eating didn't appeal to me at all, although I would try to take a few licks of water when Fritz brought it to me. I was dragged back to the vet's yet again, where Fritz was told that there was nothing else they could do for me, and it was time to think about other options. Other options? I didn't know what that meant. I didn't understand until I heard Fritz explaining things to Brenda on the phone in his usual gentle voice. He was talking about my suffering, and how I only had more suffering to look forward too, and she should do right by me. Then I got it. Oh. They are putting me down because I'm so sick I'll never get better. As big of a shock this was, I hoped that Brenda was agreeing with Fritz on the phone. I was far more worried about being sick and miserable than I was about moving on to my next life. But it looked like Fritz lost the argument, and my heart soared. My Brenda loved me so much she didn't want me to leave, even though it was the best choice. This, coming from the woman who wanted Animal Control to take me away. We had come a long, long way from the day we met.
I sat next to Fritz on the couch, where he petted me almost continually and told me everything was going to be alright. I knew it wasn't, but that's okay, he was just trying to reassure me. I heard him making a few phone calls to find someone to stay with me during the day, and I wasn't happy about that. If I had to be this sick and miserable, I wanted Brenda with me, not some complete stranger. I stared into his eyes, desperately trying to communicate this to him, and Fritz nodded. "I know this isn't the best thing for you, Kitty, but it's what Brenda wants, and I can never say no to her." I know this, she was spoiled rotten by this handsome man, but I was disappointed. I was ready to shrug off these mortal coils and move on. I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
I woke a couple of hours later to the sound of Brenda coming through the front door. She was in tears. Fritz immediately told her he had found a babysitter for me, but she waved him off. She said the vet was on her way over, and Fritz was right, keeping me alive and in pain wasn't fair to me. Amen to that, I thought. Fritz left Brenda and me alone, and she wrapped her little hands around my head and gave me scritches. She said she wished she knew what I was thinking, so she could be sure I understood her motives. My heart broke a little, because I did understand, and I wanted this too, as much as we were going to miss each other. Life for life's sake is rarely the right answer, and I was ready to move on. Brenda sobbed and told me she loved me in a voice that didn't come from her heart, but from her soul. My heart broke a little more for this human I also grew to love as much as Zoya. Brenda laid her head on my body, and I gave her one more purr. This only made her cry harder.
The vet showed up shortly thereafter, and she seemed to recognize Brenda's fragility, because she spoke to her very softly. Brenda lifted me and placed me on her lap, holding me as tight as she could, and then for some reason, Fritz started to recite some poem. Maybe all humans do that when they put their cat to sleep, who knows. Before long, the vet took my hind leg and felt all along the skin. I didn't fight her, I just let her do what she needed to do. When the needle pierced my skin I jumped a tiny bit, but it didn't hurt too much in considering how bad I was feeling.
I was growing sleepy now, my eyes closing, and then I was flying. When I opened my eyes again, I was in a beautiful green clearing in a forest where many dogs and cats were playing, some even together. I was in the Summerland, the place that souls, animal and human, go to rest before they move on to their next life. I had been here before, a couple of times, since I have already used up three of my nine lives. I flexed my paws into the green spongy earth, and realized that I felt absolutely wonderful, no aches or pain at all. To test my newfound health, I dashed across a clearing as fast as I could, then climbed up a nearby tree to almost the top. I jumped down gracefully, branch by branch, before I jumped from the lowest one, and of course I landed on my feet. I looked around at the other cats watching me, and they were all saying the same thing: Welcome.
The Summerland had everything I wanted: a forest, crystal lakes in which to drink from, fields to run in, mice to eat (Summerland mice tasted much better than earth mice), and companions. It was only missing one thing: my favorite toy. Brenda had bought me this ball that had a jingle bell in it, and I just loved batting it around the house to hear the sound it made. Sometimes Brenda would take it away from me for a few days because the sound drove her crazy (which, of course, was one of the reasons it was my favorite toy.) Maybe it came with me; I looked around on the ground, but I didn't see it anywhere. I guess you can't really take it with you. But I wanted to play with that toy, just one last time, in my healthy new body. I wonder if it was possible?
We cats can be pretty magical if we try…that's why the Egyptians worshiped us and the witchhunters feared us. So I closed my eyes, and wished, with all my being, to be back in my old house. Almost immediately the forest smell was replaced by a familiar smell. Sure enough, when I opened my eyes, I was back in my old living room. I knew I didn't have much time, so I quickly went over to where my toy was hidden, underneath the entertainment center. I took a powerful swipe at it, and it flew across the room, the toy jingling madly. This is great! I chased it, running so fast my body was a blur, and batted it into the dining room. I continued this for as long as I could, until I felt the tug to go back where I belonged. I picked up the toy in my mouth, jumped on the dining room table and then set down the toy in the middle, in plain sight. I wanted to let my beloved Brenda know I loved the gift she gave me, so much that I came back to play with it one last time. The pull to return was strong, so I closed my eyes and let myself be carried away. I again landed on soft earth, and took in the beautiful setting that would be my home for awhile. I knew the humans would be okay, so I didn't worry about them any more. Instead, I focused on which of the big trees I wanted to climb next.
*Bast is the Egyptian cat goddess of life and pleasure
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