This was published in September 2011 in Pagan Edge for the theme of balance. This one is actually somewhat based in real-life, in that I often feel work takes precedent over everything else in my life. I also, I come from a family of cat people and currently share space with two black cats. No, I’m not superstitious, although after a period of quite bad luck, a friend of mine pointed out to me that I constantly had a black cat crossing my path. I had to concede he had a point, but the bad luck passed and I am still fond of black cats.
Michael laid on his couch thoroughly annoyed with himself. He had a huge project due in a week and now he had come down with some kind of flu bug. He’d gone to work Monday and Tuesday despite feeling like death warmed over. Every single one of his co-workers told him he looked awful and he should stay home, but he had to finish his project. He just couldn’t make the drive today and it annoyed him. He checked his company cell phone constantly for his email.
“Get down, Boots,” he snapped.
The black cat with white feet hopped off his lap and washed a paw.
He set the phone down. No email. Then he sneezed several times.
Boots crouched down behind the footstool.
The medicine was starting to make Michael feel sleepy and slow. He found himself watching Boots as the cat crouched down, wiggled his tail, and fixed his green eyes on Saddles, a mostly white cat with a distinctive black spot that had given him his name. Saddles was heading into the kitchen to get some food. Then Saddles seemed to catch the movement of Boots’ tail and he stopped and stared directly at the smaller cat.
“He can see you, you stupid cat,” Michael said to Boots, who of course didn’t pay attention.
Boots charged Saddles, then abruptly came up short and dashed into the kitchen. That was apparently the signal to play, and Saddles chased after him.
Michael reflected he hadn’t been home much as he watched his cats romp through the apartment. Now Boots was chasing Saddles through the kitchen. He winced as heard small pellets bounce off the tile and realized one of the cats had slid into the food bowl and tipped it “You two stop that!” he yelled. The cats paid no attention to him. He sighed and returned to checking his email.
Boots bounded into his lap, off the back of the couch, and continued for another round.
He let out an “oof” and a string of curse words. “Stop it!” he yelled again.
In half an hour, the cats calmed down. Saddles leapt on the foot of the couch and hunkered down between Michael’s feet for a nap. In a few minutes, Boots hopped up and laid down next to the bigger cat. He yawned and put his head down.
“Don’t do that,” Michael said, yawning in return. “Just because I’m sick doesn’t mean I can afford to slack off.”
The cats started to purr. It was a relaxing sound.
Michael sneezed several times.
The cats at the foot of the couch hadn’t moved.
“I wish I could sleep like that,” he said. “Completely relaxed and not a care in the world. You don’t have some sort of flu. You don’t have a huge project due in a week that you aren’t working on.”
Saddles sighed contentedly and Boots started to snore.
Michael smiled. “Maybe I could learn from you guys,” he thought. He yawned again, feeling quite drowsy. “I’ve let work take over my life instead of finding a balance. I’m too sick to go into the office, so even if I do get an email, there’s not a lot I can do about it. Maybe I can just pretend I don’t have a care in the world. Maybe I can sleep like a cat,” he thought. He reached down and turned off his cell phone, adjusted the pillow behind his head, and tried to relax. Very soon, his own snores mingled with those of Boots.