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Tuesday, March 2, 2004
By Paul Ford
The creature perches upon the bed, orange stripes and yellow eyes. It is filled with mewls, and pours them out in the middle of the night, with a sound like knocking over a glass of goblins. In the bathroom, these sounds reverberate into language. Eye, eye, eye, it says, from deep in its throat. Child, child, child. Why, why, why, why, why? And then the sound of claws on the wall. My dreams are troubled.
As I type, then comes the smooth passage of its warm body across my ankles, like a piece of silk. It mourns until I lift it to my lap, and then it places its paw on the computer's mouse, in a weak information-age parody of hunting instinct. Sometimes I wake it in the middle of the day, and it is limp as I lift it from the closet, and disappointed. But I want it to wake, so that it does not talk to me all night.
The creature communicates by blinking. I turn to it from across the room and meet its eyes, and blink slowly. It blinks back. We have a long moment of interspecies semaphore. It is a wary means of communication, both of us out of the other's reach. But we understand each other, right then. See, we're thrown together in this life, so we might as well be friends. But the exact boundaries of those friendships—those are still under negotiation. I've never had one of its kind before, and it's never had one of mine. We are both soft and warm, but neither one believes in rushing things.
It needs a name. The cat's name is TK.