My first night aboard, I couldn’t sleep for my excitement. I needed to explore! My new home has so many shelves and cubbies; small cozy spaces; narrow passageways I can slink through; and ledges to balance on. Every time I make a pass through the cabin, I find one more place that might be just perfect to claim as my territory.
There are these lovely ledges:
This bookshelf is perfect, but it’s a little crowded and dusty. “Clean this now, would you please?”
I see a perch with cozy blankets…
...but I don’t know. It seems to be occupied by a Komodo Dragon named Louise.
And this bed seems to be prefect for when I am feeling a little anti-social.
Andrew has even installed a scratching rope on the mast for me. I don’t like it as much as his woven halyard rug, but it’s the thought that counts.
With each loop around my new home, I’d return to Andrew and Leslie to squash their legs with my paws and purr. “Thank you, thank you, thank you." It’s one in the morning before I exhaust myself and just curl up on the couch. Only then do I realize…oh dear…there is something I hadn't thought of, yet. I need to go out. I need to go out right now. I hop down and start pacing before Leslie’s feet.
Leslie reaches down to pet me, “what can I help you with little girl?“
“Meeeeyout.” I say, looking up at her with pleading eyes. “Meeeyout."
“What is it?” She asks again.
“Meeyout.” Isn’t it obvious? “Meeyout.” Why doesn't she understand me? “MeeeyOOOOUUUTTTT." Things get pretty desperate, and in a pinch I look around to find this strange box of dirt they have brought inside for no reason except....oh, no. You couldn’t possibly want me... Oh, I can’t. I WON’T. But, I must. I stick one paw in and tussle some sand to the side. It’s going to have to do. I step into the box, squat, and look up to see Andrew peering around the corner.
"She’s in the box! She’s in the box!” He is waving frantically at Leslie.
Of all the indignities.
I shoot daggers through the slits in my eyeballs at him, but he does not leave me alone.
I emerge, shaking the befoulment from each paw, one at a time, then I scratch and wipe my feet on the lovely woven halyard rug in the doorway.
“Good Kitty, Good KITTY!” Andrew tackles me, and I fall to my side in a lump of fur and love. He pets me, his hands whirling through the air like airplane propellers.
I’m going to bed.
I’m dreaming. I’m up on the roof of the apartment complex watching the lights of Langkawi fade into dawn when the tiles below my feet fall and I am dropping through a hole into the mouth of a growling gargoyle….I WAKE! But only to find the first of my nine lives dissipating through the ridge of fur that stands on end behind my neck.
The Gargoyle in my dream is here! It’s real! I spring skyward, all four feet pointed downward, claws popping out like switchblades ready for defense. I swing my face right and left, twitching my whiskers to sense where this gargoyle is screaming from.
The sink. He is trapped in the sink! Andrew is standing by the sink. Oh no! “My favorite, you must move, lest you become dismembered, arms and legs torn and bloodied from your stump. RUN! “
Andrew looks over at me, “Oh, so sorry Kitty, it's okay, it’s okay, Kitty. It’s just the sink macerator pump.” He reaches down and pushes a little silver knob into the side of the wall. The gargoyle is slayed, and falls silent. My heart is pacing at a sprint, and I’ve punctured the couch cushion with my claws. Andrew pets me and smooths the saw tooth of fur standing on end until I am sleek again. I curl up in his lap. “Thank you for slaying that horrible monster. Where did he come from?” I rub my face on Andrew’s hand.
But, this exact scenario played out at least five more times in the next two hours. Each time I’d fall back asleep, the gargoyle would return to growl and roar, gurgle up from the bowls of the sink. Each time, it would scare the devil from my soul. What is this unholy witchcraft? I decide I had had enough. I will sit and watch until the gargoyle returns, then I will kill him once and for all with my sharp fangs.
I tuck all four paws beneath me, switch my tail, and load my springs ready to pounce. I stare at the sink until…Andrew reaches down, pulls that little silver knob and the gargoyle returns. Andrew! He pushes the knob, the gargoyle stops. I scowl at him.
“MMMMmmmnnnnnrrroooooo.” Do not pull that knob ever again!
I shake my head. Why would he pull that knob when he knows the gargoyle will come? I tip my pink nose skyward, reach my front paws atop the couch, hop to the first bookshelf, start to make my way through the small slot between the ceiling and the second bookshelf when Andrew comes over, scoops me into his arms and tries to bomp his nose against my nose. “I’m sorry, Kitty. I'm sorry.”
This has to be the deepest injustice to have befallen my species. I am a predator, a lioness, a sphinx, and I am only eight pounds. I twist my neck and assert my fangs onto Andrew’s arm, but I do not chomp. It's a warning only, I suppose I will not bite the hand that feeds me….unless he keeps pulling that knob, of course.
Which, he does! They both do, multiple times per day.
The next morning’s nap is interrupted by a high pitch squeal, followed by a deep cough and “glugs” that rotate on repeat. I scramble to my feet and slide around on the wood floor until I can figure out which way to go. I sprint into the corner and tuck myself into the darkest, quietest point furthest away from this newest noise and scowl. What now?
I peek out from my hiding space to see Andrew and Leslie watching me. “Are you okay?”
Is this how it's going to be? Every day, every nap, something new that I don't like?
Once they tucked me into my “Corner That Soothes Terror" they left me alone and climbed the stairs to disappear into an area doused by sunlight. Everything starts to wobble and slosh. I hear water running, rushing beneath the floor. I try to clamor to my feet, but everything feels strange. The pressure of gravity moves and shifts. First, it’s heavy on my right side, light on the left, then, inexplicably, it switches. What is happening? My whiskers tingle as one side lofts skyward, and the other tries to balance me out by spreading themselves wide like toes. Where am I, that even gravity does not behave as normal? I lick my lips in an effort to calm a pit of fear and despair in my stomach.
Are we on the back of a great dragon, banking right then left as he breathes fire in one long roar? Because that is what it feels like. tall
Leslie peeks down at me. “You’re okay, Little Cat. You're okay.”
I do not believe her.
You wouldn't believe her either. I can walk tightropes of laundry-line and roof ridges, but now I can’t even walk a straight line squatted down on this flat wooden floor. I'm dying. I'm DYING!
“Yaawoooool! Yawwwooollll!" I break out into mournful song, until I sing myself to sleep.
When I wake next, there is more rustling, clattering, the sound of “clink, clink, clink, splash!” And then, like the sink gargoyle, Leslie pulls a knob and this dragon stops. Everything falls silent except the sound of sloshing water and the tap of medusa’s braids smacking the tall scratching stick. The silence makes me purr, and all I want to do is snuggle and sleep.
….Until I am confronted with the next terror a few hours later.
“Kitty-kitty? Do you want to go see outside?” Without waiting for consent, Andrew scoops me into his hands and carries me up the stairs to the place where the sun is. It’s white, there are ropes that might be snakes or snakes that might be ropes everywhere.
I sniff, sniff, sniff, and everything smells like salt. I place two paws on a big wooden ledge and see...
We are sitting in the largest rain puddle I have ever seen in my life. It stretches into oblivion. There is no end to this rain puddle, and it's all around us.
We live on top of a rain puddle???? This would explain the sloshing.
Leslie smooths the back of my neck “It’s the ocean, Little Cat. What do you think?”
It's too much for me to absorb. I turn left and make a mad dash below. My usually-sure feet slip beneath me and I rumple into a pile of fur, bone, and resentment on that woven mat below the stairs.
“Oh! Kitty!” Leslie rushes over and picks me up. “Are you okay?” I lay my chin on her shoulder and wonder: what have I done? She takes me over to the couch to hold me in her lap and calm me down. “I know, it takes some getting used to, but you’ll get it. It’s like this for all sailors at first.”
I scowl, then slink away to climb up into my bookshelf, install my “Do Not Disturb” sign, and sleep this one off.
Once Andrew and Leslie climb into bed, I have some time alone to think. Yes, there is sphinx in my blood, but there must be sailor, too. How else did a cat land on Langkawi Island? We don't fly. We don't particularly like to swim. Yes, we must be sailors, too. I decide I'm ready to be a bit more adventurous. So, I climb down off my bookshelf, then line myself up with the hole in the sky Leslie calls a “hatch” whenever she flips it open. I load my springs and take a running start. I launch onto the bed, my claws find purchase on the flesh of Leslie's face, and I fly out the hatch to find....
“I’m still not sure this is a good idea,” I hear Leslie say from inside. She starts fretting about me falling off the roof, and they poke their heads out of the hatches to see what I am doing. Oh, how I have missed the roof, and there has been one above me all this time! I make a circuit rubbing my face on everything I can find. Leslie comes up on the roof with me and I begin purring so loud, my throat squeaks with each inlet and outlet of air. Yes. I love this Sonrisa. I love her so much. Even if she has gargoyles and dragons in her heart. I don’t know if this is a good idea either, but please don’t take me back!
Over the next couple of weeks, every day is filled with something strange. Sometimes we ride on the back of the dragon until we stop at a new place. I ride it out on my bookshelf until we arrive. Then, I climb up on the roof to see the dragon’s breath hanging on the limbs of jungle trees ashore.
Sometimes, Andrew and Leslie hang giant white sheets of laundry from the big stick. Whenever they do that, the whole house tips over on it’s side. Leslie says not to worry, this is supposed to happen, so I learned to brace myself in a somewhat comfortable position to keep from sliding out of my shelf.
Sometimes, Andrew picks me up and takes me into a little tub that we paddle around the big rain puddle to visit friends and find rainbows. Usually, I start out a bit of a scaredy-cat, but then my curiosity gets the best of me and I enjoy myself.
I'm also still finding more and more cubbies to explore. Sometimes, Andrew and Leslie open a new cupboard, and let me peek inside. The other day, I found the dragon's heart inside this one. “If I slice this hose....will you die silent forever?”
Almost every day, we travel to a different kind of world. Sometimes, there are jungle cliffs with their singing chorus of cicadas, cockatoos, and the monkeys. Other times, I can see city lights and fishermen; smell dirt, rats, and diesel smoke just on shore. I love the fishermen best, because they bring me fresh fish heads and tails to eat.
One day, the sky filled with yellow smoke that smells of jungle wood and dry leaves, and we could no longer see the sun, or the horizon. Our home floated like a ghost ship, hanging between two worlds.
I love the nights best of all. Around nine or ten, I give Leslie her evening reminder: “Merp!" Time to go do your exercises. She gathers up her blanket, and together we head onto the roof. I climb on her belly, nuzzle her, squash her with my paws, then settle down next to her while she does her exercises. We look at the stars, or a full moon, the lights of my little house glowing through the holes in the sky.
Then, I keep watch until sunrise when I know it’s time to wake Leslie up to start her morning writing routine. Taking one of several routes, I make my way to the floor just below Andrew and Leslie’s bunk, and wrap my tail around my toes. “Mew! Mew! Mew!”
Leslie stretches out in bed, rolls her face toward me, and says “Good morning, Little Cat. How was your night?” She crawls out of bed, and the two of us return outside to watch the sunrise together.
This sailing thing. It’s different, that’s for sure. Everything is either really great or really miserable; there is no in-between. I love the roof, the snuggles, and the fresh fish. I hate the Gargoyles, the Dragon, and the funny way gravity moves sometimes. But, maybe it all balances out. My name is Katherine “Kitty" Hepburn, also known as “The Mews” and sometimes “Bandit”. Someday soon, you will call me The Sealion.