By Liz Cox
a saucer of milk
Fred and Sandra were taking a stroll along the stone edged path which led around the garden. The sun was shining which was a change, as it had been a really soaking wet February. They were fed up with being inside. It wasn’t natural. They sniffed the air twitching their noses to take in the new scents which had appeared, since they were last outside. Sandra tapped the snowdrops to make them dance. Fred heard a rustling in the grass.
‘It’s that grey mouse which lives under the redcurrant bush. It’ll get him this time.’ He slunk to the ground and waited, claws flexing in and out of his striped ginger paw in eager anticipation. Sandra sat preening nonchalantly pretending not to notice.
‘You’ll never get him,’ she grinned with glee, washing behind her sooty ear, ‘he’s far too clever for you.’
‘If you’d stop purring, maybe I’d get a chance,’ Fred said crossly creeping nearer to the rustling. He pounced, and a flash of grey sped past his nose. Sandra purred louder.
Fred narrowed his yellow eyes and pretended not to care. Turning swiftly on his heel, his tail swishing, he sauntered in the direction of the bird table. It was always good for a fun time. He stopped in his tracks.
‘Hey Sandra, what’s that on the floor?’ All animosity forgotten, he turned to his companion who was following behind him pretending to search for voles amongst the rockery stones but in fact was just enjoying the warmth of the winter sunshine. Sandra turned her slanted green eyes towards him and chirruped.
‘Oh Fred, what rubbish have you found now? - Can you eat it?’
‘Dunno,’ said Fred, poking a pale disc with the tips of his claws. The disc moved as he touched it. ‘Eeew, it’s all soft and squidgy.’ He pawed it again, and it rippled into folds. He sniffed it and backed away in disgust. ‘Doesn’t smell very good.’
Sandra, by now, was intrigued to see what he had found, but feigned indifference. She padded over in his direction. Sniffing the thing, she drew back.
‘Yes! you’re right, doesn’t smell very meaty.’ She stuck her little black nose in the air and ruffled her fur. ‘Must have been left there by the awful small ones.’ The small ones were the bane of her life.
Fred wasn’t finished. He pawed the thing again. It squelched beneath his foot and skidded across the path. He followed it. This had the makings of a good game. Sandra, watching her friend spread-eagled on the dirt, bent down to touch it herself with her elegant claws. She recoiled in horror.
‘Fred, it’s warm. Do you think it’s alive?’ She purred gleefully. She was thinking that this could be fun. She stroked her silky whiskers with her soft black paw.
Fred gave the thing a little push with his nose. It didn’t move.
‘Don’t think so San. Do you think it’s a jelly fish like those on the beach?’
Sandra shuddered. They had only once ventured onto the nearby sands, where they had been attacked by moving water. Their people had become hysterical when they found them; so much fuss. It was not a memory she cared to dwell on. Fred was becoming braver and stamped his foot right in the middle of the disc. It didn’t move.
‘I think I’ve killed it San,’ he mewed with disappointment. As he tried to withdraw his paw, he discovered that his claws were caught in the thing. He couldn’t dislodge it. He flicked his leg; the thing came with it. He tried to walk, the thing came with him.
‘Here San, stand on the other edge.’
‘Not if you call me San, I won’t. I’ve told you about that before.’ Sandra tip-toed towards the thing. She didn’t like getting her paws dirty, unless it was in the innards of a delicious rodent. Up on the bird table above them, there was a cacophony of chirping and shrieking.
‘What’s wrong with them?’ she said, gazing longingly at the flutter of wings above, ‘anyone would think we were going to attack them.’
Fred also gazed upward licking his lips. This damn thing on his foot was distracting him. He tried to shake it loose, but it swung around in the air draping itself over his foot. It began to tear and fell to the ground with a splat, where it was pounced on by Sandra. She picked it up in her mouth and spat it out.
‘That is so awful!,’ she cried trying to dislodge the last piece from her sharp little canines. ‘Perhaps you’re not supposed to eat it.’
‘What else could you do with it?’ Fred ventured, ‘perhaps it’s a nice cushion?’
With that Fred tried to lie on it, moving his back from side to side in ecstasy. He found it was too slippery and fell off. The birds had now raised their voices and were swooping down on the supine cat, as he rolled on the thing. He raised his paws to fend them off catching a brave little sparrow with his claw. The bird let out a terrified shriek, as it disentangled itself and flew off. Sandra by now was bored and tapped her white tipped tail on the ground. In the hope of securing one of the diving birds, she swiped the air.
‘This is much more fun Fred.’ She said, ‘leave that thing alone, it’s so boring.’
‘Fred! Sandra! You wicked cats, I put that pancake on the bird table to feed the birds not you two. Get back in the house, you horrors!’
Startled the cats stopped what they were doing, turning in the direction of the Large Person’s voice.
‘Uh huh, it’s Large Person, we better scram,’ said Fred getting up from his grubby pancake blanket which was now covered in thick ginger fur. ‘I don’t think the birds will want to eat it now.’ He grinned. ‘Come on San, let’s go,’ he growled as he slunk off into the privet hedge, followed by Sandra.
‘Don’t call me San.’