“No, it was just the wind. No no no! Please no! But his mate’s body was lifeless as stone. Blue, his daughter, buried her nose in her mother’s flank.”
Please wake up, Cinnamon!
Tears filled Branch’s eyes. Cinnamon’s body was lifeless.
She was not breathing. Was that a breath?!
No, it was just the wind. No no no! Please no! But his mate’s body was lifeless as stone. Blue, his daughter, buried her nose in her mother’s flank.
“If only Wise were here,” sighed Goose.
Branch’s son looked as lifeless as Cinnamon. First Wise left and now Cinnamon… Please, oh, Cinnamon. No!
Chapter One: New Thoughts
I crouched at the edge of the road in pure shock. Honey, my sister, slowly crept toward the ginger body in the road. Tom, our father, was dead. Silvermoon, my brother, paw by paw crept down his tree. Shock rippled down his spine. But I was too terrified to move. It had all been so sudden, a loud roar and one of the cats I loved most in the world was gone. No, no, I thought. Honey slowly dragged their father’s body off the road.
“Let’s go home,” Honey said.
We plodded along, no one saying anything. Grief was strong in the air. I looked up as they reached the driveway. I squinted at the end, three cats were there. Who could it be? I wondered. As we approached, the black she-cat stepped forward.
“I’m Night,” she said.
A ginger tom stepped beside Night. “I’m Maple,” he said. “And this is our brother, Carmel.”
Night finished with a glare at her brother.
“I’m Honey,” Honey said. “And this is Silvermoon,” she continued.
I tried to pull myself together, but part of me did not want to. “I’m Cinnamon,” was all I could muster.
Honey twisted and licked her dark brown tabby fur.
“Well, where are you from?” Silvermoon asked, stretching, his silver fur gleaming in the sunlight.
I looked at my own ginger fur. It looked rough and scarred. Just like I felt. I just wanted to go somewhere to start over. Rhinebeck! In a flash, I remembered the town. All those human and cars, yet something had drawn me. The happy spirit, the friendly cats. What was I thinking, my family. But something tempted me, drew me to Rhinebeck.
Silvermoon drew me out of my thoughts. “I thought we were going hunting! What had I missed.”
“Honey’s showing Night and co. a place they can stay.” I nodded mutely.
I quickly caught a mouse and a bluebird, then I followed Silvermoon. He caught three mice. Then he opened its jaws. What are you doing? I thought. Silvermoon went to the new bush. The berry tree was poisonous. Then he brought all three mice back. I saw cold, hard anger in his eyes. Anger at the world. All I felt was grief, grief that nothing would be the same. After the whole I can’t believe you tried to poison Honey nonsense, we went to sleep all together. Well, Honey and Silvermoon fell asleep. I turned over and over in my nest. I contemplated over and over as the first light of dawn shown in the garage with absolute serenity I made my choice.
Chapter Two: The Journey Begins
I woke up to Silvermoon prodding me.
“What?” I said groggily, a bit annoyed.
“Honey’s missing,” he said worriedly.
“How do you expect me to know where she is?” I snapped, very annoyed now.
He ran out. Twenty minutes later, Honey came in.
“Silvermoon’s looking for you,” I said.
“I know we had a run-in,” she answered.
“Can I confess?” we said at the same time.
“You first,” I said awkwardly.
“Okay, well I have a mate.”
“Maple is so nice.” she said.
At that moment, my decision was confirmed.
“Oh, Honey, I’m leaving. Going to Rhinebeck, for good.”
“W-what,” she sputtered.
“Oh, Honey, I never really had a future here.”
“Oh, Cinnamon. Oh, Cinnamon.”
Tears flowed down Honey’s face.
“Oh, Cinnamon, no, I need you.” I licked her.
“I’ll always be right here in your heart.”
I said, “I love you.”
It was all words, but the look Honey and I shared said it all more than words could ever.
“Silvermoon, I love you.” I turned to my brother. “Oh, I love you.”
I walked up the driveway. Then I knew I would never see my siblings again. The journey began.
As I walked, I looked around at the familiar street as I left forever. I left , I turned down the corner where Tom had died.
“I hope you’re with me,” I said to his grave. “I’ll need all the help I can get. I love you.”
The sun was setting, and I slept on his grave. When I woke up, I was sitting on the road, and Tom was sitting next to me.
“Tom!” I cried.
“Cinnamon,” he said warmly. “I am always with you. Now listen close. You will find your friend and savior in a place you don’t expect. Don’t turn down my gift, Cinnamon.”
And with that, he vanished. The dream faded around me, and I woke with a start. Then I looked around Tom’s grave. Right time to move. I walked up a road.
“Ruff.” A cat’s worst enemy: a dog. “This is my house. Get out, scoundrel.” The dog growled in a queer way.
I bared my teeth, and the dog the yellow dog leaped. I twisted and bit his ear hard. Then as I dropped to the ground, he scared my face.
“Errrrrrrr, get out right now, tyrant cat.”
“I will, stinky dog.” And with that, I ran.
It was noon, and I was hungry. There was a house and a huge grass lawn with a small pond that trickled into a woodland stream. Water and food. The water was fresh and cold. Mouse! I found a used squirrel nest with a squirrel in it. It made up for mice. I continued on. The ground started sloping, and the sun started sinking. I slept by the road that night. Something icey woke me. Someone was watching me. At the end of the hill, I looked down the road. There was a big building. It looked warm and cosy. I saw cars and more cars and then wam! And there was a dog, a despicable dog. But at the sight of anything killed by a car, even a dog, I felt horrible. That dog had been killed like Tom.
Then it struck me. No matter what, cat or dog, no one deserved this. Because we are all the same inside. I slowly dragged her body out of the road, and I saw a pup in her jaws dead too. She was a mother, and I thought of Sky and Ice. My mothers. A young life never lived. At that moment, I despised humans with a bitter hate. Hated life. Why so many lives and this pup would never feel joy, happiness and sadness. Then a thin yelp of, Momma! The pup. It was still alive. I looked at the mother dog. I would save her. The pup was my life now. Death couldn’t have her. The pup was injured. It needed care. I looked at the building. Humans might have been this pup’s only chance. We would look for help there. I picked up the pup.
“What is your name, little one?” I asked.
“Wind,” said the pup pitifully.
I put Wind on the grass.
“What’s your mother’s name, little one?” I asked.
“Rebecca,” said the pup, then promptly passed out.
I looked at the road, No cars. I raced onto the road. Vroom Mmmmm! I grabbed the body and ran. Safe. Then the terror of the whole thing hit. I was far far away from home with only this injured pup for company. I picked up Wind. We, or I, ran to the big building. There was someone outside.
“Kitty. Oh, and a puppy,” the child squealed, and a mom came (to us cats, you humans say uwqgdiuqgyuiefyq or other weird things, but the editor has translated to human.)
“Sweetie, come. Ooh, cat and dog?”
“Come, sweetie, can you watch the pup for a second?”
The sound would have deafened me, but it did not.
“Teddy!” she called.
“Yes,” said a gruff man’s voice.
“Teddy, this cat was trying to bring an injured pup.”
“Well, this cat does not look well.”
“Bring the pup.”
A second later, Wind was lying next to me.
“I’ll take um… ”
“Ohh, thank you!”
Then the two voices ceased I realised. She was unconscious, then the world faded around me.
Chapter Three: Farm Life
I walked through the field. I knew I should not. I felt disappointed in myself, my life. Living as a pet. With a human. I saw Honey and Silvermoon flourishing as wild cats. They would have been disappointed in me. Yes, this was my life now, living with humans. A tear surprised me by trickling down my cheek. I lived for Wind now. Without her, I would crumble of self shame. My life out the window for this. For Wind, I reminded myself. I gave my leg for Wind. Literally. It had been broken. I looked at it. I sat and remembered. One year ago came to the farm. Wind had always had an interest in the road where her mother died. One day, Wind ran into the road. A car was barreling toward her. I ran into the road and pushed her out of the road, with a crack! and a fiery pain. Then the world went black.
Now I was healed and fit again and I wanted to go. Wind sat next to me.
“Wind, I’m leaving.”
“I know, and I’m coming,” said Wind in her normal gruff voice.
“Oh, Wind, you have such a nice home here… ”
“I have it because of you. If you go, so do I.”
Her sentiment warmed me, but I could not let her abandon her life for me.
“I have a deal,” I said.
“You will come to Rhinebeck and come back.”
Then I started second-guessing myself. She would come back by herself… If she went with me would that be fair? And if she was that devoted, shouldn’t I be too? I should tell her not to come. But inside me, selfish me, I wanted her.
“Elosa!” This was from Teddy. He called me Elosa.
When I walked into the FarmHouse/Farmers Market, it was a large white ‘building,’ I think you call them. There was a large ‘door,’ another word I picked up from living near humans. I walked in. As I did, I thought, Can I let Wind give this up for me? She might never come back… No, l would not let Wind… l would not even think it. And that’s when I found a CMail.
(Editor’s note: CMail is a cat version of Gmail, but for cats. It’s not on an iPhone. It is a long distance thing where they feel the message, but for your reading abilities (since I don’t think you read cat) it is formed like a letter.)
We miss you at home. I would like to talk to you more like this. I just had my first litter of kits with Maple! Their names are Golden, Tawny, Tyme, Tulip, and Rose! Silvermoon is mated with Night. He will write you soon. Silvermoon and I wanted to know, where are you? Do you have a mate, Kits? Please write answers to help your worried sister and brother. And I will ask you and ask you, will you come home? You still have a home here, Cinnamon! The CMail was sprinkled with tears. Probably Honey’s. Well I hope you are okay at least.
Your Always And Deeply Devoted Sister,
The letter made me think, would it be easier to just go home? A second time in my life I wrestled with a big decision, but by morning I knew in my heart that I would not be able to go back, but as a sister I had to write back.
Here was my CMail:
I miss you a lot too! I semi had a pup (yes a dog). Her name is Wind, and her mother got hit by a car, and I adopted her. I am at a farm called Small Queen Farms and Market. My owner is Teddy Wert. I am leaving for Rhinebeck tomorrow. Also l can’t come home. Sorry. You and I, we miss each other equally.
Then I turned around. Wind was next to me.
“Okay, time to go,” I said.
“Yes,” said Wind as she looked around for what I did not know then but would be her last day, if I had known I probably would have made her stay, but I did not know, so we walked away.
First we passed a big house and a sleek cat out on the lawn.
“I am Queenie, and I am Queen!” said the cat.
“Okay?” said Wind.
We kept walking.
“Where is Rhinebeck?” Wind asked.
“Across the road, then jump the big gap with the stream at the bottom.” Seeing the worried look on Wind’s face, I added, “Don’t worry, I jumped it as a kitten.”
Winds face relaxed. I should have known Wind would never see the other side of the chasm. At the road I watched. Wind made it. Barely three seconds slower and she would have died. Yeah, roads are rough. I didn’t know why those humans made then. (So if you are human, please stop killing us with your roads.) My turn. With five seconds to spare, I reached the other side.
“Well,” I said, winded (no joke intended).
“Well is right,” said Wind, gasping and laughing.
We forged on. When we arrived at the chasm, I jumped. For a second I felt myself plummeting. And then I landed, safe.
“Your turn!” I called.
“Okay, by the way, I’m glad I came.”
“I am too,” I said.
Then Wind jumped, and then the wind and Wind changed direction (joke intended), and she slipped away crashing into the other side hard, too hard. I ran to her. Wind was still.
Chapter Four: Without Wind (which is a short chapter)
Without Wind we could not breathe, without Wind, our earth would die…
Bored, just kidding or stalling rather… I could continue my boring and factually incorrect poem. No, I thought not, okay, back to the story then…
I stood over the body of the closest I had come to family since leaving the big greenhouse (sadly enough now back to the poem… okay, are all readers this mean?!) I stood there a long time. At nightfall, I picked up Wind. Then I thought, We must look strange, a cat with a dead dog in her mouth. Then I came upon a grove, and I… without Wind we would never shiver without Wind our hats would not fall of…
(Don’t laugh, I’m making myself feel better.)
Without Wind our jackets would be useless, Without Wind We Will Wane!
(Okay, I feel better now, well not really… But if you insist… okay)
I buried… Wind. There, I said it.
I walked on aimlessly. Then I saw a big red barn, the Center for Performing Arts.
I realized I had made it. You know that empty feeling when determination and anxiety fill you up and then it is over? I do. That’s how I felt. I realized that I was alone. For the first time I felt lonely. And hungry. So I caught a mouse. Then I saw a brown tom-cat.
“Who are you. Are you a new member of Bee’s pack? If you are I’ll shred you for killing.”
“Hold your mice!” I said. “I’m Cinnamon.”
Then I told him my story.
“Bee is the leader of a group of cats who what to rule,” he told me. “They kill cats who don’t listen. I am a member of Cecilia’s tribe. We are fighting, Jenny is my mother.”
This cat had lost his mother. I know that tearing feeling, a feeling of the world turning upside-down. He took me to Cecilia. She was kind and understanding, almost like the mother I had never had. The first moon was challenging. There were 16 cats in the tribe. My first mission was learning to fight. A cat, Deer, was supposed to teach me.
“So, I want to see what you know. Attack me.”
I crouched. I was exhausted when I got back to the tribe.
A month later, Cecilia was standing on a tree.
“Cats of my tribe. Today is the day when we will fight. I invite Woody, Deer, Cinnamon, Evelyn, Branch, and Rachel.”
“M-me?” I said.
“Yes,” said Cecilia. So we lined up.
We walk through the town that had become home. Right toward Bee’s camp.
“Attack” sliced through the air. I ran in. I slashed and bit everything in sight. I faced a cat I recognized, Typo. He stepped over a body. A cat who would never know victory. I yowled.
It was Woody. I carefully balanced on my front paws, and Typo reared. Perfect. I slashed his belly with grim determination, then imagined killing the thing that had killed my mother so I never knew her, my father right when I was little, Wind in that chasm, and I felt no fear. I would fight to the death. I knocked over Typo, finishing him, not killing. But if no one helped him, he would die. I felt Sky next to me.
“Evelyn, my love, she’s dying, help. I love you. You will be an amazing mother that I never was to you to those kits.”
“Sky!” I gasped. My mother!
“Go, my love. I’m right next to you.”
So I sprang on the attacker.
“No one,” I hissed, “can mess with my tribe and get away with it. I cut a long line down Yu-Yu’s back. He tried to roll and shake me of but, and I wasn’t not proud of it. Another cat would never see the light of day. I felt Yu-Yu go limp. I ran to Evelyn.
“Are you okay,” I said.
She was alive. Rachel ran over.
“I will take her find Cecilia and Branch. We won!” she said.
I looked around. Branch was leaning over a body.
“Cecilia!” I wailed and raced over, grief radiating from me in waves.
“It’s okay, my love,” Branch said. “She is alive for now, but dying quick.”
“I’ll take Cecilia, you take Woody. He is dead,” I said. He raced off. I gently picked up the only motherly figure in my life. Then it hit me. I was expecting Branch’s kits. Okay so in the month I’d been with the tribe, Branch and I had gotten close.
“Branch!” I called.
“Yes,” he yelled back.
“I’m expecting your kits!”
When we got back to camp, we put down the bodies. Uina, the healer, came over.
“So, Woody’s alive, Evelyn’s dead and — and Cecilia’s dead.”
I knew before she said it.
“Katle is second, so now leader, and Kamel, being her brother, is second,” was the announcement. I did not care. Life was so beautiful and so short, and as Branch came over, I felt pure joy at life. And soon I hoped to enjoy it with my kits.
The End (for now)