by Maxine Churchman
Warm milk and honey
During the warmer months, after the leaves unfurl, I spend most of my time near the top of my favourite tree. I like to climb up early, before too many people are around, and I stay to watch the comings and goings of the neighbourhood below. I stay really still, so no-one notices me – and sometimes I nap.
From my vantage point, I have a good view of Mr Donovan’s garden and his bird feeder. Every morning, he shuffles down his lumpy path, with his walking stick in one hand and scraps for the birds in the other.
I like Mr Donovan; he talks to me and sometimes gives me treats. He has a great potting shed too, with lots of interesting nooks and crannies to explore, and spiders to play with.
As I watched, I saw his back door open. It was sometime before he emerged into the sun light though. His stick preceded him and he edged through the door awkwardly, shuffling sideways ,holding onto the frame until he was almost facing the wrong way. He reached into the doorway, picked up the plate with the scraps for the birds and did an odd shuffling dance until he was facing down the garden again. He stood still for ages, so I lost interest and looked around for something more interesting.
Two old ladies came around the bend, walking slowly towards my tree. One was like a sapling in the wind; tall, thin and bent over at the top. The other was heavy and waddled like a duck. They were carrying shopping bags and I spent a few minutes imaging what wonderful items they may have bought. I could see their mouths moving, one starting to speak even before the other had finished, but from that distance I couldn’t hear their words.
I yawned from boredom and considered a quick nap, when my attention was caught by a croaky shout followed by a soft thud. Mr Donovan was lying on his path face down, with his stick wedged awkwardly under his hip. The plate was on the grass surrounded by spilled scraps. I wondered if any of the scraps were worth getting down for, but I wasn’t particularly hungry and it was a long way down. The women were still quite a way off, but their voices were starting to reach me. I looked around for something else to amuse me, but after a couple of cars passed by, it was all quiet again.
Mr Donovan hadn’t moved and I thought I could see blood near his head. I thought perhaps I should take a closer look, so I climbed down carefully and squeezed through the bars of his gate, noting that Mr Donovan was not visible from the path outside.
After walking around him a couple of times and checking out the scraps I wondered if I should do something. There was certainly blood leaking from his head and his breathing sounded raspy. The voices of the two women caught my attention as they approached the gate. I squeezed back out onto the path and waited for them to get closer.
“Follow me, man down,” I yelled at them.
They stopped and looked at me.
“Hello kitty, you’re a friendly one aren’t you?” one crooned at me. I considered rubbing up against her leg, but I was too annoyed with them to show such pleasure.
“Ridiculous people, I want you to follow me,” I yelled in frustration and walked towards the gate. I looked back and they were just gawking at me, like the goldfish in Mandy’s bedroom.
“I don’t think he wants you to pet him Mary, he sounds angry. What a strange cat.”
“It’s almost like he wants us to follow him. Look at the way he is looking at us - so expectantly.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Mary, let’s get home before it rains.”
They walked past the gate, so I ran in front of them, almost tripping the sapling.
“What is wrong with you people? Follow me or I’ll bite your ankles.” I thought perhaps they would respond better to a threat, but I don’t like biting ankles, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I weaved back and forward in front of them, so they couldn’t continue onward, then I pushed between them. “Now! You slow dogs,” I shouted over my shoulder.
Thankfully they followed me to the gate. I continued calling to them from the other side.
“I think there might be someone fallen over in the garden Iris. Come on let’s take a closer look.”
I climbed back up the tree and watched proceedings from my vantage point. At last there was something worth watching, although I could have done without the wailing sirens. There were several people fussing around Mr Donovan for ages. Just before it became too boring, he was taken away in a van with blue flashing lights.
When everything was quiet again, I felt exhausted so I settled down for a good nap.
About the author
Maxine Churchman is a mother and grandmother from Essex UK. Her hobbies include reading, hiking, yoga and more recently writing. So far she has concentrated on short stories, but hopes to make progress on a Novel in 2020. cccmaxine.blogspot.com