CATS

by Maya Cohen, age 10
CATS Maya is a writer who lives in Brooklyn with her little sister and a hamster. She likes to read and draw.

“There was an argument… It had started out simple. We were picking wallpaper and furniture for my room. I had wanted to get cat stuff, and a cat. Maybe obvious. But it got real bad, real fast. I had wanted Mom to let me be me. But noooooo! I had to be her! Not me, her! The non-cat loving, awful dinner cooker of a mom.”

Chapter 1

Have you ever been in a family where you can talk to cats but everyone else hates them? Funny how that happens… Well anyway, maybe that’s part of the reason why I have a nasty habit of running away. There was an argument… It had started out simple. We were picking wallpaper and furniture for my room. I had wanted to get cat stuff, and a cat. Maybe obvious. But it got real bad, real fast. I had wanted Mom to let me be me. But noooooo! I had to be her! Not me, her! The non-cat loving, awful dinner cooker of a mom.

Well anyway, to take a break from my parents or ‘cool down’ as they put it, I had run out into the woods where I usually wandered when I ran. Then a cat appeared. I wasn’t expecting her but who cares?

“Scram!” I aimed a kick at her.

“Hey,” she recoiled. “I was just trying to comfort you!” she said defensively, before she slunk off.  

“Wait,” I called. ”You can talk?” I was so surprised!

“Of course I can talk,” she said in her refined manner, and I noticed that she was a ragdoll cat. The fur around her neck was all—how do you say it? A bit like a boa? “All animals can talk,” she continued. “But only one person every one thousand years can talk to cats.” She thought for a minute. “I’m not quite sure what the other animals’ numbers are, and they rarely collide.”

“Rarely?” I asked. “Am I-”

“No,” she said almost rudely. “That’s too cliche.”

“Okay,” I said slightly let down, for some reason.

“Come on, we have work to do,” she started walking briskly with her tail held high.

“Wait, what work?” I asked while trying to catch up.

“Your training, of course,” she replied vaguely.

“What?”

“Do you know nothing?” she seemed upset for a reason I couldn’t guess. “Hurry up.” And I realized that her eyes were filled with tears.

“Why-” I started but before I could finish she interrupted.

“We’re here.” she stopped suddenly. She stopped in front of, wait for it… a pile of rocks. I know right! Out of all the places for this ‘training’ thing, it had to be rocks! Rocks!

“Um,” I started.

“What?” she asked, clearly unaware that we were standing in the middle of nowhere.

“This is it?”

“What do you think?”

“I think that it’s gonna turn into something, but I think that you’re gonna say that that’s so cliche and this is actually where the training is.”

“No.”

“Wait what?”

“N-O, no. That clear enough for you?”

“So what is going to happen?” but in my head I added ‘little miss sassy pants.’ Suddenly there was a loud rumbling sound. “What?” I muttered as a cave formed before my eyes.

“Come on,” my companion called. “Don’t worry. It’s safe, you know.” Then she turned back to the cave, started walking, and laughed.

Chapter 2

There were three words to describe the cave: boring, boring and boring. You’re thinking: a creepy cave, cool. Trust me. It’s not! Okay, fine. It’s dark, slightly chilly, but other than that nothing. A soft sunset colored light was coming from the depths of the cave. Then I saw something that totally surprised me. Cat flaps. That might sound a bit random but who knows.

“Do you live here?” I asked.

“Not just me,” she said with a twisted smile. Suddenly I heard loud rock music coming from one of the cat flaps. And I mean loud!

“Ugh, might as well get this over with.” The cat sighed.

“Get what over with?” I started to say, but before I could finish, three incredibly fat cats stepped out singing:

The three fat cats

We like to eat rats

Wherever the bed is that’s where we’re at!

“Ugh,” she sighed again.

“Oh,” I remarked. “That’s what you meant.”

“Meet Steve, Joe and Bob.” She didn’t sound very enthusiastic about the introductions.

“Hi, I’m Layana,” I told them.

“Hey, I’m Joe, but as you probably know, I’m 62,” said one of them. I recognized him as a scottish fold. He was rubbing his belly like he had just eaten an exceptionally large meal.

“None of them are too bright,” the ragdoll whispered, which reminded me, I was tired of calling her a bunch of different words.

“What’s your name?” I asked curiously.

“Not now, the stink’s coming in,” she replied. I held my nose as a foul scent drifted through the room. But later I wondered, once I knew her better, if she had changed the subject on purpose. As we were leaving the ‘Cat flaps’ room, I decided not to mention the subject of the name in case she lashed out at me. We were approaching a chamber filled with lanterns.

“Well that explains the sunset light,” I remarked.

“Don’t get used to it,” she told me. “We’re not staying in here for long.” 

“Then, where are we going?” I asked her, slightly puzzled.

“We’re going to my favorite place in all of Cat Land,” she purred, like cats do, but it was soothing, sort of.

“Wait, Cat Land?” I realized how weird it was. “Out of all things, you guys could name this place you go with Cat Land!”

“What?” she said. “Cat Land, where did you get that from?”

“You!” I cried.

“No.” She was grinning now. “I never said Cat Land. It must be shock or something.”  I fell silent because I knew she had said Cat Land, which meant one thing. The ragdoll was hiding something!

Chapter 3

“Come on,” the cat’s voice echoed through the passage we were in.

“Ugh.” I was getting a bit fed up with my companion’s behavior. Just then I heard a sigh. At first I thought it was my sigh echoing back, but then I realized it wasn’t me. I sped up.

“Layana! Get up here!”

“Coming!” I called.

“Meet Silky,” she said once I caught up, completely out of breath.

“Layana is a lovely name,” said Silky in a sweet delicate voice.

“Uh, thanks.”

“Well,” the ragdoll cut in. “We were about to go outside so-”

“But I haven’t shown her my song yet!”

“Fine, might as well get this over with,” she said with another sigh.

I am siamese 

Give me treats please!

If not then just let me through

If you please

If you please!

“In case you haven’t noticed, songs are kind of a thing in here.”

“You’re turning into a tour guide, Andromeda,” said Silky before slinking off.

“Your name’s Andromeda?” I was so startled that I had forgotten to be cautious. “That’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Come on we have lots of things to see.” She completely ignored me. Outside was quiet except for the chirping from the crickets. I looked up.

“Wait, I need to be home by now, it’s night!”

“Why, do you really want to go back after this!” She lowered her voice. “After that?” 

“You know about the fight?” Surprisingly I wasn’t mad.

“Of course I know about the fight. I know everything about you.” Okay now I was mad!

“What!” I shouted. “Who died and made you in charge? Why should you get to know everything about me! It’s just plain wrong.”

“Oh, we’re doing this thing,” she sighed. “Well if you must know, you are not going home anyway.”

“Why not?”

“Because, you have to start your cat whisperer training.” 

“No, you can’t make me and I refuse.”

“Actually I can make you.”

“How?”

“Ask ‘the teach’.”

“Who’s ‘the teach’?”

“You’ll see.”

“No I won’t, I’m leaving.” I took off down the passageway.

“That’s a dead end, you can’t leave!” Andromeda called after me. I realized she was right.

“Now what?” I asked when she had caught up.

“Come on, I’ll take you to see The Teach.”

Chapter 4

“So, where is this ‘teach’ guy?” I asked after setting down the passageway. “‘Cause I’m starting to think he is kinda shifty.” 

The Teach isn’t shifty,” Andromeda told me. “Besides, he’s one of only humans here besides you. So show some respect.”

“You know, I’m only doing this because I have nowhere else to go.”

“Yes, that is the 59th time you said that.”

“You’re keeping track?”

“Yeah, what else could I do?” Although our voices were pleasant, our faces were tense. The passageway was widening. Incredibly slowly, I almost didn’t notice it.

“Wait,” I said slowly “‘One of the only humans’ here! What do you mean ‘one of’?

“You’ll see,” she told me in total darkness.

“Why is this taking so long?” I complained and asked at the same time.

“We’re here!” she interrupted. A handsome oak door stood in front of us. Suddenly, it swung open, revealing a tall middle aged man.

“Thank you, Andromeda,” he said. 

“Can’t I stick around?” she asked hopefully.

“No,” he said firmly.

“Fine.” She left silently. The man gestured for me to go inside. I did, only to enter a room with no taste in decor! For some reason, I’ve always been picky about things like this. There were odd things like rusty pipes, plastic bottles and garbage bags that were squirming! But the strangest thing above all, was a girl around my age with a rather large nose that ruined the rest of the face. She had sharp, almost purple eyes and was wearing a ripped leather jacket that had silver spikes even though some had fallen out, over a white t-shirt and navy blue jeans, also ripped. But her hair was really cool! It was dark brown hair that she seemed to have tried to dye pale pink but she hadn’t bleached it first so it was barely visible. It stuck up in odd angles at the top, but stuck to her face in the middle. I rubbed the deep blue streak in my bronze hair. For some reason the girl looked familiar.

“Now, girls, you are both on the same page here. I’m The Teach. So something strange happened twelve years ago, when you were born. See, you girls have two things in common. For one, you can both talk to cats, and second you are both twins.” 

“What!” we both said.

“Calm down,” said The Teach. “So usually, when something like this happens the power goes to one twin, but for you, the power got distributed between you.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“You can each talk to different kinds of cats,” he explained.

“How come we have different parents?” the other girl asked. Her voice had a slightly harsh edge to it.

“Those people aren’t your real parents Tina. Your real parents are dead.”

“What happened to them?”

His face froze. “We don’t know.”

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