My Way or the Highway

Frances Mackay

© Copyright 2006 by Frances Mackay

Photo of Frances Mackay.

The roof thumps as Em runs over the high hip of the galvanised iron roof. I raise my eyebrows at my husband. "He's not happy, Frank. Too much activity these last few weeks." I sigh, resigned to our cat's contrariness.

 Our quiet routine is no more. A stream of unexpected visitors has put our pet's nose out of joint. He believes all other humans are poison. To add salt to Em's wounded pride we have been dog-sitting for neighbour's dogs, while their owners are away. One, a huge Alsatian, thinks everyone loves him, even cats. Em soon set him straight.

 It was two days before we sighted Em after that experience. He came back in the middle of the night, gave a pitiful broken "Meow" and jumped on our bed and shook the raindrops from his fur. Pay back.

 Then our son Ken has arrived for a prolonged stay and the foot stomping, the big round eyes and the fluffed tail of our delightful despot tell us what to expect. Again his space is invaded. At night, when Ken goes to his room, Em stomps over our legs and leaves us dead mice as love tokens. "Be grateful that it isn't snakes this time," I laugh as I remove the evidence. My legs have little round bruises from his attention.

 Now we listened as the thumps, interspersed with plaintive, broken meows for attention became more insistent. Em only makes his presence felt when he knows the interloper is away from the house.

A final crash and Frank grins and points behind me. I turn in time to see the graceful orange leap for the food bowl. There our darling sits with scowling yellow eyes fixed on the platter, expecting fresh food to appear. Naturally it does, but he withdraws with dignity when Frank attempts to scratch the smudgy ginger nose.

 "Oops," Frank laughs. "Looks like it is going to take more than a few nibletts to break the ice this time."

 "Give him time. Ken's great with animals. If we just play it cool I'm sure Em will relent."

The alternative is too painful to contemplate.

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