For almost every kid, teacher, principal, bus driver, lunchroom attendant, custodian, aide…you get the idea… in America, when the days of late August and early September arrive, it means one thing—it’s time to go back to school. Cats are lucky (or unlucky—it really depends on your point of view); they don’t go to school. Ever. Cats do not like to be told what to do, and while they are curious about things, they do not have the patience to learn to read about the things that interest them. They have paws, not fingers, so holding a pencil is hard—therefore, they do not write as well as humans do. Maybe that’s why they are so interested in the keyboard of my computer?
College kids go back to school too, and Cheese knew that because he saw Peter packing boxes, suitcases, laundry baskets, duffle bags, CD cases, and sniffenloofers (that last word was made up—I wanted to see if you were paying attention!). Seeing this made Cheese sad, because he liked to have Peter at home. Peter was really good at head rubs, he was a very clean animal, and he sometimes left melted ice cream in the bottom of the bowl for Cheese to lick—yum! Peter was also Cheese’s human—Peter thought he picked Cheese, but really Cheese chose to live with Peter and the rest of the family. Now Peter was leaving to go back to school, and Cheese’s heart hurt.
“What’s wrong with you?” Banana flicked her tail in Cheese’s sad-looking face. “You’ve been sitting here by the door all morning.”
“I’m waiting for my chance,” replied Cheese. His voice sounded mysterious, so Banana’s ears pricked up and she was instantly very curious.
“What chance? The birdbath is in the BACK yard, and there are birds in it! If you are quiet, you will get your chance to….surprise them! You haven’t caught one yet, but you’ve surprised lots of them.” Banana thought Cheese was confused about what he should be doing; after all, it was Friday afternoon, and that meant it was time for Cheese to jump at the birds in the birdbath.
“Oh, never mind,” sighed Cheese. “You wouldn’t understand. And, you couldn’t be quiet either.”
“Hmph!” Banana snorted. “I could be quiet for 14 seconds if I needed to. So there!” Banana stuck her tail in the air and walked toward the back door. At least she remembered her “obligations”, even if Cheese forgot.
Time passed (human time: 30 minutes. Cat time: who knows?). Karen and Gale helped Peter load the boxes, suitcases, laundry baskets, duffle bags, CD cases, and sniffenloofers (just making sure you’re still paying attention!) into his car.
“OOF! Whoa! What did you pack in this box, Mom?” Peter asked. “It’s heavy!”
I think it has your medicine kit, your boots, your ‘mom-is-worried-you-might-need-this’ stuff, and…CHEESE!” Gale yelled as Cheese’s head popped out from the top of the box.
“Ohhhh…I’m sorry, buddy, but they don’t allow cats in my apartment.” Peter gently lifted Cheese out of the box and put him on a nearby chair. “I’ll be back to visit you soon, I promise.”
Cheese jumped off the chair and ran from the room.
Banana found him curled up on Peter’s bed; the comforter and sheets were gone, but it still smelled like Peter, and that made Cheese feel better.
“Hey,” Banana said quietly, “It’s almost time for dinner. Then it will be bedtime, and then you know what? We can get up early and watch the cool buses go by the front window! Remember how those kids bounce up and down when the driver hits the bump in the road? That’s funny!!!!”
Cheese smiled, just a little.