What’s the Word?

cagey: adj. evasive. shrewd. crafty.
(from wordsmith.org, today’s word)

Smells sweet. Looks clean. Plays dirty.

******

She sees me at the sink, filling the coffee carafe with water. She knows I can’t escape. She strolls up to me, and I sense her even before I turn to look. I stiffen. We’re still getting to know each other, this cat and I, and I’m not so sure she likes me.

I invaded her territory, fell into bed with her lover. I understand her disdain.

Still, I’m bigger than her. Eventually, I figure, I’ll win.

She weaves in between and around my ankles and purrs. I relax.

“Morning. Rob’s gone already. So, either you’re feeling lonely. Or, you’re coming around after all.” I reach down and scratch just behind her ears. Her nose turns up and she leans into my leg. She trots back and forth across the kitchen, following me as I pour water into the coffee maker, walk to the drawer for a filter, head back to the beans. I press start on the machine and bend down for one more caress.

“You’re sweet this morning.”

She squeaks out a faint meow.

After the coffee’s done, I sit at the table with a cup and the paper. She jumps into a chair and up onto the table, directly across from me. I predict a stare down. Instead, she curls up into a ball and closes her eyes. So, I sip my coffee and flip through the morning headlines. When I head off to the shower, I ease my chair out so as not to disturb her slumber.

I get dressed and run through my day: 8am project meeting, outline new proposal, schedule interviews for new assistant. For once, I’m not even thinking about the cat. We had such a good morning; she was civil, even affectionate.

I turn from my dresser towards the closet and debate, flats or pumps. After one, two, three steps along side the bed, my legs shiver. I move sideways, out of habit. But not fast enough to avoid her paws as they jut out from under the bed. With claws extended, she grabs my leg. I recognize that squeeze, the prick, the burning scratch. I jerk my leg and she follows, hissing. Her eyes are red. She lets go, runs to the window and bounces off the wall onto the bed. She sits upright.

“Dammit, cat!” I grab my shoes, back out of the bedroom, and slam the door shut.

It’s only because of Rob that I go back, turn the handle, and let the door fall open just a crack.

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4 responses to “What’s the Word?

  1. I feel your pain. She must be a sister to my ex roommates cat who would hide and jump at an innocent’s face.

    • Cats are cunning! Though the story is fiction, the scene of attack strongly resembles my childhood experience with my sister’s half-Siamese cat (who pegged my little chicken legs as her object for aggression). Feisty!

  2. That’s a great twist, I loved it. As a cat person, I can clearly see that cat on the table!

    • All day I thought about the word “cagey” and kept coming up with disappointing images of people and a lot of false starts to a story. So, I turned to cats. I like cats, really. But, as with politicians, I’m suspicious of their sly smile.

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