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Natalie Rarick ~ October 2015

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Natalie Rarick, a freshman at Edwardsburg High School, has always loved traveling to different worlds. While traveling the real world can be fun, nothing is more satisfying, in her opinion, than immersing oneself in a story.  She devours books at an alarming pace and has traveled more in books than in real life.  She loves to act and perform on stage so that she can explore the worlds created in plays with the people watching.  Being a writer is so much fun for her because she can create her own worlds, the worlds of her imagination, and anything can happen. She is ecstatic to be sharing her worlds with you.



The Philosophies of Cat and Mouse 

by Natalie Rarick

Elizabeth P. Lucinda scurried across a shelf, her tiny nose twitching as she sniffed around.  She knew it was around here somewhere… She passed by the green camouflage uniform, the dirty black boots, and the pretty golden badge that read ‘Sergeant Maxwell’ in bold, black letters.  Finally, her tiny pink nose picked up the scent.  It was coming from the bowl on the floor.  She stood up on her hind legs and looked around.  No one was watching.  With an excited squeak, she scampered down from the shelf to the bowl.  It was full of large pellets of food.  Happily, she grabbed a few pellets to take back to her home.

                “Well, look what we have here,” said a deep voice behind her.  The little gray mouse froze, hoping that whoever was behind her had not noticed her and would just go away.  No such luck.  “Why, it’s a sweet little mouse right by my food bowl.  Isn’t that funny.  You see, you’re food, yet you’re taking my food away from me, even though I eat both you and kibble.  The food taking food from its predator.  Yes, yes, Mother Nature is ironic. Enough of that.  Turn around so I can see you better.”  Elizabeth, quaking like a leaf, turned to confront who – or what – ever was behind her.

                It was a massive, cream colored cat.  He had a brown snout and brown paws, and long, smooth fur.  His piercing blue eyes watched her carefully.  He was sitting comfortably on his back haunches like he was merely observing the weather and not standing before his prey.  Her tiny mind desperately hoped that he wasn’t hungry.  The big cat smiled at her. 

                “What’s your name, Little Mouse?”

                “Elizabeth P L-Lucinda, Sir.” she said, pulling her tail in front of her and wringing it with her paws like she always did when she was nervous.  The cat made a sour face.

                “Blech, too long.  I’d tangle my whiskers saying that over and over again.  No, what do your friends call you?”

                “I-I don’t have any friends, Sir.” she said, leaving out the bit about them all being eaten by cats or caught in mousetraps. 

                “Well, I’ll be your friend, for a while at least.  And I believe I shall call you Lucy.  And you must have something to call me.  What shall you call me?”  Lucy quivered as she looked up at the cat towering over her.  She was fairly shocked that she was still alive.

                “Are you…are you going to eat me?”  She asked timidly.  The cat took on a contemplative look, flicking his tail absently.

                “No, not yet.  You see, I’m very lonely, just like you Little-Mouse-With-The-Long-Name Lucy.  Kibble doesn’t talk, you know.  And humans can barely hold intelligent conversations with their own kind, let alone with me.  My human seems to communicate entirely by yelling, although perhaps that is just him.  I’m fairly certain that all humans are rather slow, but I haven’t had much experience with other humans, so I can’t be sure.  Ah, but I have gotten off track again.  It’s so exciting having someone to talk to.  Now, we were on the topic of me eating you, or rather, not eating you, correct?”

                “Y-yes, Sir.”  Lucy said quietly.

                “Please, do not call me Sir.  If you must call me anything, call me…Socrates.  Yes, Socrates.  I rather love the name, and it rolls so pleasantly off the tongue.  And of course, we have quite a bit in common, Socrates and me.  Yes, we share very many common views about the world around us.  Very philosophical thing, questioning.  Especially when you can never know the answers to your questions.  Now, about eating you.  I wouldn’t particularly like to at the moment, but I suppose I shall have to eventually.  You were trying to steal my food, after all, and my instincts at this very moment are telling me to pounce,” Socrates said, enunciating the last work carefully, and Lucy flinched.  “That is the way of the world.” 

Lucy closed her eyes, her tiny body tense, still clutching her tail, as she waited for the big cat to pounce, but her death never came.  When she opened her eyes again, the cat was still sitting, observing her, while cleaning his paw.  She saw the viciously sharp hooked claws as he flexed his paws and she shivered.  Lucy’s terror became replaced with awe as she realized that the cat was not going to eat her after all.  At least, she wasn’t sure.  As she tried to wrap her mind around his peculiar riddles, she thought to herself that this was definitely the strangest encounter of her life.  She knew cats loved to play with their food before they ate it, but Socrates seemed quite content with just talking to her.  The cat finished cleaning his paw and yawned, exposing his sharp teeth for a moment before licking his chops.

                “Now then,” he said.  “Since you are ultimately going to die, perhaps you would like to say a few things before you go – a ‘last word’ sort of endeavor.  I guarantee that I shall listen to you with open ears.  Then again, once you die, I shall be the only one who knows of your story and, if I tell no one, once I die, the story shall be lost anyway.  Or perhaps the world has already ended and we are all dead at this very moment, even as we are still alive.  Ah, lovely things, paradoxes.  Anyway, as I was trying to say, one day we shall all be dead and so any attempt to maintain our memories after death through words and stories are completely futile and we should just abandon the thought.”  Lucy quivered, not sure whether he was finished speaking or not.

                “Um…” she started, and the cat sighed.

                “Go on, tell me a story.  One of your favorites.  Oh, and if you know any about cats, I would love to hear them.  It’s so interesting to hear the tales of my species from a lesser being.”

                “Well…There is one about a….a cat in a barn and a….a little mouse named S-Susan.”

                “Yes, Tell the one about the Cat and The Mouse named Susan.  That sounds lovely.” Socrates stretched, his paws and, by extension, his massive claws just inches from her feet. Then he lay down in front of her and rested his big head on his paws.  Just his head alone was as big as her.  Lucy noticed that he was still blocking any escape route from her corner, so he obviously didn’t trust her not to run away, no matter how at ease he seemed.

                “Well…alright then.  Once upon a time…”  

                Lucy told the story just as she had been told as a small pup and Socrates listened with rapt attention, never interrupting, although he did chuckle at the intimidating tabby cat in the story.  As she told the story, she detected a small change in him.  His face softened, became gentler, more innocent, sweeter.  She saw his mind go from analyzing every part of the story to simply enjoying it.  Once she was finished, Socrates seemed to jerk himself out of a dazed state, shaking his head slightly and smiling.

                “Why, Miss Lucy, you have a lovely way with words.  You weave wonderful tales like a spider weaves her web.”

                “Thank you, Socrates.” Lucy said, a bit less afraid now.  Socrates looked like he almost wanted to say more, but stopped himself, instead standing up and stretching once again.       

                “Now, I am starving.  I think it is time for dinner.”  A spike of pure terror raced through Lucy and she turned tail and ran behind the food bowl and into the corner behind her.  She threw herself at the wall, desperately trying to climb it to get away, squeaking in horror, but she couldn’t get a good grip.  She was going to die!  She was going to die!  Still squeaking, she kept trying to climb the wall, all the while waiting for a paw to slap her and crush the life out of her, or a claw to rip through her pelt.  She was going to die!

                “Please, Miss Lucy,” Socrates said, his words slightly muffled.  “Would you mind being a bit quieter?  I am trying to eat, after all, and it’s quite rude to keep squeaking like that.”  Lucy dared to turn around to see Socrates eating the food from his bowl just behind her and completely ignoring Lucy’s various attempts at escape.  Noticing her gaze, Socrates lifted his head out of the bowl and looked at her, his eyes level with hers.

                “Would you like some food?” he asked.

                “You’re going to eat me!”

                “Now why on earth would I do that after you told me such a lovely story and I just finished complementing you on your story telling gifts?  Would you believe that I would have the audacity to eat my guest?  What terrible hospitality!” Socrates said, a scowl darkening his face.  Lucy stopped squeaking, shocked, but still skeptical.  Maybe this was a trick and he was still going to eat her.  Maybe he was trying to fatten her up to make her tastier.  Or maybe he really was being sincere.  If he was, then he was the strangest cat she had ever meet.  Well, he was also the only cat she had ever met, but she doubted the rest of them were as sophisticated and philosophical.

                “Go on,” he said, stepping back ever so slightly so that Lucy could reach the bowl.  “Eat.  I have plenty of food, and I certainly don’t need all of it.”  Lucy edged forward carefully, pulling herself up onto the rim of the bowl.  She looked at all of the food inside and her stomach growled impatiently.  Quickly, she darted her hands in and grabbed a single pellet before dashing back into her corner.  Looking behind her warily, she found that Socrates was still sitting patiently.  Once he saw she was done, he moved back over to the bowl and continued eating as if nothing had happened. 

Lucy looked down at the pellet, completely awestruck.  She was still alive.  Almost a half an hour in the presence of a cat and she was still alive.  How?  Her stomach growled again and she nibbled carefully on the edge of the pellet.  It was very good, if a bit bland.  She ate the whole thing in a few bites, very happy to have something in her stomach. 

Socrates finished his meal and sat back again, clearing some residue of the pellets still left on his whiskers with his paw.

“Now then,” he said, looking back upon Lucy.  “You must understand my internal dilemma.  You see, prior to you telling your story, this was the moment when I had planned to eat you.” Lucy was surprisingly calm and not surprised.  She was learning not to let anything this cat did surprise her.  She simply pulled her tail back into her grasp and began wringing it with her paws again.

“Well, are you going to?  Please tell me.  I can’t stand the suspense any longer.”

“Ah, you see, this is where my dilemma comes in.  Originally, I wanted to eat you.  I truly did.  But you have changed my mind, Lucy.  You are intelligent, kind, and brave, even in the face of your possible demise.  That has put even my great mind into a puzzle.  You have a good soul, Lucy.  A kinder soul than I’ve seen and had the pleasure to watch and talk to in a long, long time.  As I believe I may have mentioned before, I am quite lonely here.  There is no one to talk to.  But you, Lucy, you have stayed and talked to me and humored my witty tongue longer than any other, and I appreciate that.  Saying all of that, I cannot just eat you if I wish to maintain a clear conscious.  So, it is with a heavy heart that I tell you to go, to leave this place.”

“Wait, Socrates, are you…”  Lucy started, but the cat stopped her.

“Please, do not call me Socrates anymore.” He said.

“But that’s your name.”

“No, it’s not,” Socrates said, and he seemed to sink down a little, becoming more self-conscious and embarrassed.  “My real name is…is Fluffy.”  His eyes met hers as if he was waiting, hoping for her approval.  Lucy smiled.

“I think Fluffy is a wonderful name, and a very fitting one.”  Lucy said, and Fluffy smiled, flashing his sharp, but no longer scary, white teeth for a moment, then becoming sad again.

“I shall miss you, Elizabeth P. Lucinda.  I shall miss you.”

Just then, the door swung open and a tall man with a muscular body and close-cropped brown hair entered the room.  He wore a camouflage shirt and he looked quite tired, but still terrifying to poor Lucy.  The man looked down at Fluffy and then his eyes shifted to Lucy.  With a frustrated exclamation, the man picked up a broom from the corner of the room and used it to brush Fluffy aside.  The cat yowled in protest, but recoiled as the man raised the broom above Lucy.

“Jacob!  We have another rat in my office!  I swear, if you don’t call that exterminator soon…”

“Lucy, run!” Fluffy yowled and Lucy did not hesitate.  She raced out of her corner, dodging the broom as it fell.  THWACK!  Squeaking, Lucy ran in circles around the center of the room, not knowing how to escape, not even planning to climb away, her entire being focused on escaping the broom.  THWACK!  THWACK!  The broom kept coming, trying to bash her.

“Lucy!  This way!”  Fluffy shouted, and Lucy ran toward the voice, the man, who she assumed was Sergeant Maxwell and Fluffy’s owner, following her.  She saw that the cat had one paw in the door, keeping it open for her.  She ran toward him and hopped over his paw, no longer afraid of him.  She paused, just outside the small home, before she left.

“Thank you, Fluffy, for not eating me and for being my friend.” Lucy said quickly, trying to say as much as she could in the little time she had left.  She knew she may never see Fluffy again.

“And thank you as well.  Go share your stories with the world!  And, please…tell one about me.  About how I helped you.  Will…will you do that?”

“Of course, Socra….I mean, of course Fluffy.”  Fluffy smiled, the happiest he had been in a long time.

“Now go!  Run!”  he shouted, and Lucy obeyed, running away from the house and from her friend, and only looking back to see the cat remove his paw from the door and let it close. 

She never saw the philosophical cat again.





Watch Natalie read this piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSTWNc3tudE&feature=youtu.be



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