And now for something totally different. I've wanted to write a children's story about a cat for a long time. I finally finished. Here is the rough draft.
Once there was a little girl who loved cats. She had posters of cats on her walls, little plastic toy cats, and her drawings of cats on the refrigerator. She even had a big stuffed cat who shared her pillow that she would cuddle into her arms when she slept. Often, Mamma would take her to the local animal shelter where she would cuddle and play with the kitties who were waiting for someone loving to take them home. When she would beg Momma and Papa for a cat they would say she was still too young for the responsibility of a cat and she could have one once she got older. So the little girl would work hard to show she was responsible. She did her chores around the house every day and would go to bed without protest at night. She would even eat all her turnips, even though she hated them, to show Momma and Papa how grown up she was.
Then, on her sixth birthday, Papa came in with a present all wrapped in an enormous bow. But this wasn’t like her other presents that had dolls or regular presents. No, this box had big holes all around it. Holding her breath, the little girl untied the ribbon and pulled the lid from the box. Inside was a big fluffy blanket and in the middle that blanket was an even fluffier kitten. The kitten was very small, not much bigger than Papa’s hand, it was orange and white with fluffy fur that stuck out in all directions. When the kitten looked up at her with eyes that were blue as the sky and let its first tiny squeak of a meow, the little girl knew she loved it. Papa said, “Now we know it is a tiny and fragile thing. It was so tiny that its mother didn’t want to take care of it so a very nice lady who rescues little kittens took him and raised him until he was strong enough to come to a family that loves him.” The little girl promised she would do everything to make sure the nice lady had nothing to worry about.
The little girl learned how to care for a kitten. She made sure he was fed on time and she even cleaned his stinky litter box without complaint because she knew he didn’t like a dirty litter box. She played with him with ribbons and stuffed mice and his favorite little squeaky bird. She made sure he was safe but also taught him to only scratch on his personal scratching post and not the furniture. But the best thing the kitten did was replace the stuffed cat on the little girl’s pillow. He would sleep with his head on the little girl’s shoulder while the little girl would put her arm, very gently, around him. Every night he would climb up the bedspread and snuggle against the little girl. The whole family named him several things: Puffy, Hank, Mr. Squeaky, Tiger, Fluffytail, and many more but none of them seemed right until one day the little girl announced to Momma and Papa that his name was Fiddlesticks. “Why Fiddlesticks?”, they asked. “Because it is!”, replied the little girl. And so, Fiddlesticks it was and always will be.
The only thing Fiddlesticks loved more than the little girl was eating. He was always ready for dinnertime and would wind around the little girl’s ankles meowing as loud as he could whenever she would pull out the can of cat food and opener. He loved his food so much that at first he was a very messy eater who would lie down in his plate and get the cat food all over him as he ate. But he discovered that when he did this, he would get a bath and this made him very unhappy so he learned to no longer lie in his food. He also realized that when he didn’t have his food all over him more could go into his belly and that made him happy. Fiddlesticks loved food so much that he would sneak the people food when he found it unguarded. He would sneak a bite of a sandwich or steal a bit of chicken that Mama was cooking and run off with it before he would get his behind swatted. He would steal toasts and rolls from the counter and even break into the pantry and eat a whole bag of kitty treats. Once he tried to have a sip of Pappa’s coffee, but that just burned his nose. He would then lie in his favorite place on the windowsill in the little girl’s room and enjoy his stolen treat. He grew bigger and stronger. Especially after Papa took him to the vet for a checkup and a “procedure”. The little girl didn’t know what that was, but Fiddlesticks came home very sleepy and didn’t want her petting for a day or so. Then he was his old self again. And then he grew bigger. He was no longer a tiny kitten but was becoming a real cat and a fat one at that. The little girl didn’t have to be so gentle when she laid her arm around him at night.
Fiddlesticks was not only getting to be a big, fat cat but he was also clumsy. He would try to jump on things and would either not go high enough and crash into the side or would go too far and slide across the top until he fell off the other side. Or he would chase his chirpy bird and bump into a table, knocking it over. Momma had enough of his damage and demanded he go outside. Well, they couldn’t just let him go out, although he was very curious about what was beyond the door they would always shove him away from. Papa and the little girl went into the backyard and checked it over very well. They made sure the fence was too high for Fiddlesticks to jump over, but he was too fat to jump very high anyway. They looked to see if there were any gaps that Fiddlesticks could squeeze through and that the gate would latch securely. Once Papa was satisfied Fiddlesticks could not get out and nothing could get in to hurt him, they brought him into the back yard. At first, Fiddlesticks as frightened at this new place. He snuggled in the little girl’s lap and blinked at the sun. His ears twitched at the sound of birdsong and the noises of the neighborhood. Eventually, with the encouragement of the little girl and his own curiosity, he climbed from her lap and began to sniff around. The wind blew a leaf and he chased it for a bit, thinking that was great fun. He batted at a flower and scratched the tree as if it was his own personal scratching post. The outside was kind of scary, but there was so much to see and do! Besides, the little girl was there to run to when anything frightened him.
Eventually Fiddlesticks was no longer frightened of the back yard and he loved it as much as he loved his windowsill in the little girl’s room. He knew every tree and plant and bug. There was a squirrel in one of the trees who would chitter in alarm whenever Fiddlesticks would come around. Once Fiddlesticks tried to chase the squirrel, but he was too fat and couldn’t climb the tree. After a while, the squirrel knew Fiddlesticks was not dangerous so they became friends of a sort. The squirrel would run along the rooftop chittering at Fiddlesticks as he patrolled around the garden and then they would both curl up in a shady corner for a nap, Fiddlesticks on his favorite patch of moss and the squirrel in the bough above him. One night there was a terrible storm and the rain fell in sheets as the wind howled outside the little girl’s bedroom window. Poor Fiddlesticks was so frightened he buried himself under the covers and cowered next to the little girl all night. But, though the night was terrible, the next morning was clear and everything looked like it had been polished like new. The sun was bright and warm and the air smelled of Springtime. When he was let out into the yard, Fiddlesticks had fun dabbing at his reflection in the pools of water and exploring all the new smells. Then in a corner of the yard he discovered some of the ground beneath the fence had washed out and left a hole under it just barely big enough for him to squirm through. He pushed his head through and then dug at the dirt and squeezed his big fat body through the little hole. By the time he made it through he was covered in mud and sticks and leaves, but he didn’t even notice because there was a whole new world to explore! Everything seemed just a bit different. There were new flowers to sniff and different leaves to chase! He became so lost in following one smell after the other and chasing leaves and papers that after just a little while he was far from home. Fiddlesticks didn’t realize he had gone so far until he started getting hungry and decided to go to the back door and meow to be let in for a snack. But…there was no back door! There was no garden or yard! Where was he? He tried to retrace his steps but quickly got turned around. This was not good, not at all! He meowed loudly, hoping the little girl or Momma would hear, but there was nothing but the birds chirping in the trees. He heard a squirrel chittering and so ran to find his friend, but it was a stranger squirrel who was frightened of him and run up high into a tree and threw nuts at poor Fiddlestick’s head.
Then it started to rain again. At first it was just a few drops here and there but then rapidly progressed to a rushing downpour. Fiddlesticks looked for shelter, first under a bush but that didn’t help much and then under an old truck. Though the rain was now off him, he got oil and other icky stuff all over his beautiful fur and it tasted very bad when he tried to clean it off. Once the rain finally cleared off a little bit he crawled out from under the truck and looked around. He heard water rushing somewhere and went to investigate. By the side of the street was a hole in the curb and a river of water rushing into it. Fiddlesticks had always loved to watch water rushing down the drain in the sink and bathtub at home and this was much like it, only bigger! At first he sat on the curb watching the water rush into the hole but then got curious as to where it was going and splashed down into the water to look in the hole. As he peered into the hole, with the water rushing around him, an empty box that was being swept along the current bumped into his butt and startled Fiddlesticks so much he jumped and the force of the water pushed him into the hole! Down he fell and hit with a splash in a pool of water and mud. Poor Fiddlesticks didn’t think he could feel any sadder but now he was. He couldn’t get back up to the hole so all he could do was follow the water down deeper into the tunnel. After a long walk he finally saw some light ahead of him and found the water was pouring out of a big drain into more water than he had ever seen. He squeezed through the grating over mouth of the drain and onto a muddy bank of a big lake. There was lots of plants and grasses around that all smelled different than what he was used to. There were birds sitting on the water and making noises he had never heard birds make. Fiddlesticks knew that he was very far from home. He was hungry and cold and wet and muddy and smelled terrible. But that was not as bad as how bad he felt inside because he missed Poppa and Momma and most especially his Little Girl. He walked along the shore of the lake for a bit and saw a little animal by the water. It didn’t have fur or feathers like the other animals he knew. It kind of looked like the lizards he would sometimes chase in the backyard, but it was more round and not as skinny as those. He slunk down on his belly and slowly crept near, thinking he could maybe catch this because he was terribly hungry. But Fiddlesticks was not a very good hunter and as he drew near, the creature let out a loud croak and leapt into the water with a splash. Fiddlesticks was so tired, dirty, cold, hungry and lonely he just sat on the edge of the water and meowed out his anger and sadness, his tail twitching angrily. But there was nothing he could do. He wandered a bit more, sniffing the stuff he found along the lake, but nothing smelled like food and eventually wandered back through the underbrush as the sun began to set. At one point he saw a beetle and pounced on it. Even though he caught the big black bug it didn’t taste good and he let it go. The beetle gave him a quick pinch on his nose for good measure as it trundled off into the leaves.
Fiddlesticks walked some more and found a big house thing. It didn’t look like his house or the houses that he was used to, but it had a very big driveway and smelled like people and the big noisy things they rode around in. He went to the door and meowed loudly but nobody came to let him in. So he sniffed all around the building until he found a large box by one of the doors. Inside the big box was lots of soft things which seemed so nice after the cold nasty ground. It felt much like the bed he had at home that Momma had put in a sunny spot for Fiddlesticks to watch the outside and sleep in the sun. Thinking of his lovely bed and his Little Girl, he curled up and let his exhaustion wash over him and fell immediately into a deep sleep.
“Well! What have we got here?”. Fiddlesticks woke with a start as a voice cut into his dreams. There was a large Poppa standing over him. Was it Poppa? No, this one was pale with blonde fur. At first Fiddlesticks thought to run, but the Poppa seemed nice, like his Poppa. Instead, Fiddlesticks just let out a sad little “miao” and tried to snuggle deeper into the box filled with soft clothes. The Poppa reached down gently and caressed Fiddlesticks’ head and he couldn’t help himself but start the deep rumbling purr that Little Girl loved so much. Fiddlesticks was so miserable and lonely that the touch of the Poppa’s hand felt like a heavy warm blanket on his sadness. Fiddlesticks stood up and stretched deeply, then hopped out of the box and rubbed against the Poppa’s leg as the Poppa continued to caress his dirty fur. The Poppa carefully reached down and picked up Fiddlesticks with a bit of an “oof!” once he realized how big Fiddlesticks actually was. He carried Fiddlesticks into the large building calling out to several other Poppas who were standing there. “Hey guys! Look what got left in the Donations box!”, the Poppa called, “It looks a little worn but might be able to be mended.” The other Poppas came over making that strange barking noise that humans made when they were happy. Several hands reached out to stroke Fiddlestick’s cheeks and ears. They seemed to be amused at his deep rumbling purr whenever they hit just the right place under his chin.
The yellow furred poppa placed Fiddlesticks on the floor and walked to a smaller room. Fiddlesticks followed sniffing at all the new smells. Then he heard a sound that made his heart race, the sound of a can opener. That always meant his little silver dish at home would have something wonderful put in it. The blonde Poppa called him over and placed a little saucer on the floor, it wasn’t his little silver dish, but it still smelled wonderful. Fiddlesticks was so hungry and the tuna smelled so good. He gave it a dainty taste and then buried his face into the wonderful food. It was so much better than the dead frog he tried to eat at the pond. After eating a full can of tuna and having a long drink from the dish the Poppas had placed by him. He went over to each and gave them a long sniff as they petted him. It wasn’t home, and none of them were Poppa, but it felt nice to be there. It was warm and he was full for the first time in days. Eventually he went over to the big yellow furred poppa and settled in his lap as the poppa scratched his ears. The poppa didn’t even seem to mind that Fiddlesticks was muddy and smelly. Fiddlesticks tried to clean himself, but he tasted icky and the stuff didn’t come off his fur very well, so he just enjoyed the petting, yawned, and dozed off again. The poppa gently moved him off his lap and Fiddlesticks slept on the couch, feeling safe for the first time in what felt like forever.
The next day the Poppas decided that Fiddlesticks was indeed stinky and sticky so they took him to a deep sink and put a towel in the bottom. The sink was filled with warm water and then gently put him in. At first Fiddlesticks tried to get out, but then he put his claws into the deep towel on the bottom and let them wash the nasty stuff out of his long fur. Despite his sad howling, he actually liked the warm water and soft petting hands as well as getting all the mud and oil and smelly stuff off him. Eventually he got one last rinse and then another Poppa took him in a big fluffy towel and dried him off a bit until Fiddlesticks jumped from his arms and went into a corner to finish the job properly. He was so much happier to be rid of all the nasty stuff that was stuck in his fur, and even happier with the treat of some tuna fish the Poppas gave him as an apology. Once he was clean and dry it was time for him to explore the new place. He went to every corner and piece of furniture and gave it a good sniff. He rubbed against the couch and was very interested in where the Poppas kept their food. He visited the little box in the corner where they had put litter for him to use and made sure to remember where that was when he needed it. But when they let him out into the big room that he really got excited. So many smells! It smelled a bit like the car he had hidden under, but much cleaner. There was the smell of rubber, canvas, metal, oil, and so many other new things. The big shiny trucks were so huge and he had to jump on every one and give it a thorough inspection.
A few days later, Fiddlesticks was sleeping in his new favorite spot, the back of the couch where there was always a Poppa available for ear skritchings, when several of the Poppas came over and gave him special attention. “I guess he’s a bit of a mascot now, so he needs a name.”, said the Poppa with the red fur, “Any ideas?” There again was much discussion about his name, and all of them got it wrong. Nobody called him “Fiddlesticks”. But they all agreed to call him “Jack” and would use that whenever they spoke to him, so he started to respond to it as if it really was his name. He loved all the Poppas at the big fire station but he still missed his Little Girl terribly. Often when he napped he would feel himself wrapped in her arms and would let out the purr that would fill the room. Then he would wake up and be a little sad because he was in the fire house, even though he did like being there. When he would wake up sad he would go find one of the Poppas and butt them with his head until he got petted and felt better.
Every once in a while there would be loud noises and all the Poppas would rush around in a great excitement, they would jump into the huge trucks and roar out of the building to be gone for a few hours. At first all of this scared Fiddlesticks, but he got used to it and rather enjoyed the excitement and scrambling around even though he still didn’t like the big ringing noise that made everyone jump. When the Poppas returned they would be tired and smelled like smoke and other things Fiddlesticks couldn’t identify. Usually they would come back happy and excited, but sometimes they came back very sad. Fiddlesticks would go and comfort them as best he knew. One time, the Poppa who as darker than the others actually put his head into Fiddlesticks’ thick fur and cried like his Little Girl would do when she was very sad. Though he didn’t know why the Poppa was crying, Fiddlesticks did his deepest healing purr and the Poppa eventually seemed to feel better. After coming back they would go out and wash the big trucks and Fiddlesticks would enjoy being outside and dabbing at the water with his paws. The trucks would smell of soap and wax and the stuff used to make the shiny bits shinier.
Eventually he discovered that he loved the big trucks and his favorite sleeping place was on the dash of the biggest engine. It was so big he could stretch out his full length and feel the warm sun. Sometimes the big ringing sound would happen while he was sleeping and a Poppa would scoop him out before they took out the big truck. But one day something strange happened. He was sleeping in his favorite place when the ringing sounded. The Poppa missed scooping him up and so Fiddlesticks jumped down and ran under the seat. “We don’t have time to get him, just get in!” yelled one of the Poppas, so the doors closed and Fiddlesticks felt the floor under him start to move. At first he didn’t like the feeling, but he wanted to get up with his Poppas for comfort. When he jumped into the nearest lap he saw the world whooshing past and this was fascinating. He hopped from the lap to his sleeping spot and stared out the window and the world. Eventually the world stopped whooshing and the Poppas hurried out, leaving Fiddlesticks alone in the truck. At first he was content just watching the world and the people running around, but then he heard something familiar. It sounded like his Little Girl and she was making the sad noises. Excited, Fiddlestick jumped from the truck and ran to the source of the sound. It wasn’t his Little Girl, but it was a little boy, even younger than his Little Girl. The little boy seemed sleepy and scared and sad. Fiddlesticks walked up to the little boy and bumped his head against him. The little boy was startled to look down and see a cat almost as big as he was bumping against him. All of his sadness and fright vanished as he reached out to pet this giant cat. When Fiddlesticks felt the boy start to pet him, he let out his giant purr and snuggled against the boy. The little boy no longer cried and hugged Fiddlesticks hard, but Fiddlesticks didn’t mind. Eventually the little boys Momma and Poppa came over and were very surprised to see their boy holding a giant cat in his arms. Once they picked up the little boy, Fiddlesticks went back to his fire truck and back up on the dash to wait for his Poppas to come back. When they got back, the Poppas had heard what Fiddlesticks had done and gave him a lot of attention and some of his favorite treats. Fiddlesticks didn’t know why he got all of this attention, but he was certainly happy to receive it.
The Papas started to take him on many of their trips. He loved to stand in the front of the dash and watch the world whoosh by as the truck went “Weeee-OOOO” and the lights flashed. Once the truck stopped, he would jump out and go visit all the people who had gathered to watch the Papas pull out the long hoses and spray water on the hot places. Fiddlesticks would especially seek out those who were making the sad noises, especially the ones like his Little Girl. He would get pets and hugs while he put his head to their chests and start his deep rumbling purr. Most of the time the people would stop their sad noises and laugh or hug him tighter. He never minded being squeezed when people made their happy noises, but he minded even less when they were making their sad noises. He knew that is when they needed to squeeze him the most. The Papas even made him a little vest to wear, with a big shiny badge and everything so that the people would know he was a part of the Papas’ group and was their “Official Rescue Cat”. He loved being the “Official Rescue Cat” and making the sad noises go away. Many times, after coming back to the big place, he would get extra special treats.
One time they went out and a lady, who smelled very nice, held him and talked to another Papa who was holding a box on his shoulder. The blonde Papa who told everyone what to do petted him and talked to the nice lady about Fiddlesticks, the Rescue Cat. Fiddlesticks didn’t really like being held by someone who wasn’t making the sad noises, but the blonde Papa was there as well, so he didn’t try to get down. Later, the other Papas would make happy noises around him and call him “TeeVee Star” but Fiddlesticks didn’t understand since that wasn’t his name. But he was often called many different names so he didn’t mind. He knew what his real name was after all. But after the time with the lady and the man with the big box, many more people would come to him with little boxes and hold him while others would hold boxes by him. He really didn’t understand because these people were not making the sad noises and also, he couldn’t go to those who were sad. Fiddlesticks didn’t like this very much. He was the “Rescue Cat” but not rescuing anyone.
But one day something happened. He was sleeping in a warm patch of sun when he heard the Papas talking excitedly as well as other voices, these voices seemed familiar. The Blonde Papa called out the name that they all called him, which wasn’t Fiddlesticks but he allowed them to call him “Sam”, and walked in with several people. Two big people and one small person. The small person ran to him and was making both sad and happy noises. At first he was a bit startled and confused and was about to run away when suddenly he smelled something he remembered and was then covered in one of the biggest and tightest hugs he’d ever had. He wanted to scramble away but then he realized the little person was calling him by his proper name. And the smell…it was so familiar, but it had been so many months since he had smelled it. It was his Little Girl! He immediately stopped wanting to struggle and instead rubbed against her face, that was wet like some of the sad people at the fires were. But she didn’t seem to be sad, even though she was making the sad noises. She was also making the happy noises. He didn’t understand, but he knew he was very happy. His Little Girl was here and everything was okay. And Momma and Pappa were there as well and they were also making happy/sad noises and petting him. He pushed his face into Little Girl’s chest and rumbled his deep purr. After a while the other Papas came in and petted him and hugged him and ruffled his head. They also seemed happy, but sad and he didn’t know why. His Little Girl was here and so were the Papas and Mama as well, everything was wonderful. He heard Papa talking with the big Blonde Papa about getting to come back every week, which he didn’t understand but it was okay. He was put into a big box, which he didn’t like, but Little Girl was there with her fingers through the bars so he could rub against them as they went into a big truck that didn’t make the “Weee-ooo” sound. And went back to the home he remembered from what seemed like so long ago. Papa told him that he could go and be with the other Papas at times so he could still be the “Rescue Cat” but would now live back with them. At the time, Fiddlesticks didn’t know what that meant, but he later understood that he could be with both his families. All that mattered now was that he was with his favorite human in all the world.
Later that night, after lots of cuddles and petting and play, Fiddlesticks the Rescue Cat lay in the arms of the Best Little Girl In The World and fell asleep with a purr that could shake the walls.