Those Green Eyes from the Woods (Part Two)
But seriously. What is it with this cat? Part two of two.
Read part one here!
The Cat tossed his head back and belly laughed. Farah tried to stop herself, but his bubbling laughter was contagious, and a smile escaped her anyway.
“That was my favorite movie as a kid,” Farah said.
“Ah, into beasts, huh?” The Cat replied, nudging her shoulder with his.
“Tell me the truth,” Farah demanded.
“Okay, the truth, I promise,” he said.
“I was born like this, yes. There’s no magic curse and there’s no explanation. My whole family was just like me, and now I’m the only one left.”
His smile left his face now.
“Oh. I’m sorry,” Farah said. She wasn’t sure what else to say and felt guilty for pushing so hard.
“It’s fine, really.”
“But your whole family were just like you, and no one cared to figure out why? I would’ve spent my whole life searching for the answer. Didn’t you want to know?” she asked.
“ ‘Why’ didn’t matter to my family. We were happy. We ate well and had friends we spent hours playing in the woods with. There was so much joy. That’s all I ever cared about, really. We lived in this house,” he said the last words slowly, and Farah felt exactly what he meant.
He put his items into the box, but stopped himself from putting the brick back.
“Do you mind?” he asked.
“Are you going to keep bothering me?” she replied.
“Only if you want me to,” he said, but his voice was still serious.
“I haven’t decided yet,” she said.
Her slight smile returned.
They stared at each other for a stretched out minute before he put the brick into place.
“I wish I could be an actual cat. Cats probably don’t have problems,” she said with a sigh.
“Like what?” The Cat asked.
“Nothing. I mean not nothing, but it’s silly to tell a stranger.”
“Why wouldn’t you? You could tell me anything and I have no one else to tell. There are benefits to talking to strangers, and we’re not even strangers when you think about it. We’ve been friends for at least a week,” he said.
He makes a good point, she admitted.
“My ex-partner,” Farah sighed as she laid on her back. She gazed up at the ceiling and watched the early morning sunlight ignite the dust particles in the air.
“He always treated me like I was a burden, like it was inconvenient to be with me, which made me wonder why he dated me at all. And then he just gave up; but he also never really tried to begin with.”
The Cat gave her an eager look. She fumbled with the hem of her night shirt before saying more.
“I think he only liked me for what I did for him, not for what I actually was. And that kind of sucks, you know? I wanted to live, like really live life with someone else. I didn’t want to be like everyone else I knew who was miserable with how their lives turned out. I guess I got my wish, because now I’m alone in the house of my dreams. That has to count for something I guess.”
A lump began to form in her throat.
“Did you love him?” The Cat asked.
“No,” Farah replied, “but I convinced myself I did. I don’t think that’s the same thing.”
“Then why does it hurt you?” he said.
“Because I spent so much time thinking I was going to fix him, or that he’d fix himself, and he didn’t. I learned too late that it never should have been my responsibility. I hate how he made me feel worthless despite how hard I tried to make him happy. No one should get to do that. I didn’t think I deserved better because no one ever told me so. But this-“
She trailed off, looking around. She really did adore the new house.
“This is me starting over, and deciding my worth for myself,” she finished.
“Hmm,” The Cat said.
He laid on the floor beside her.
“Marco sounds like a dick.”
Farah burst into a fit laughter, and they laughed together until her stomach ached.
She rolled onto her side to face The Cat. He was a handsome human but his peculiar cat features made him truly striking. His eyes were locked on Farah, and it made her a little nervous though she couldn’t quite put her finger on why.
“Well, you have lots to do, I should leave,” he said.
Farah heard thunder in the distance.
“I mean, you don’t have to go right away. It sounds like there’s another storm coming,” she replied.
Her face flushed.
“I just don’t have anyone nearby anymore. It would be nice to know someone here,” she said.
“Well, what should we do then?” The Cat asked.
Farah didn’t have an answer.
“I have an idea,” he said.
“I can turn you into a cat too. It’s easy, and more importantly, it’s fun. You said you like adventure, right?”
Farah sat up from the floor.
“Is this how you spend your time? You go into people’s houses and convince innocent women to be turned into cats?” she said.
“No,” The Cat laughed, “of course not. I’ve turned plenty of men and other people into cats too,” he flashed a full smile now, “and I don’t think you’re totally innocent.”
Am I seriously considering this? She thought.
“Will it hurt? Is it permanent?”
“No, not at all. All you have to do is say my name and exchange bodily fluids,” he said.
Her horror was written clearly on her face.
“It’s not a big deal, it’s just how the magic works. When I was a kid we’d just spit in our hands and shake so I could turn my friends into kittens to play with me,” he said, “but then I got older and found an easier and far more fun way to do it.”
Farah was unsure what to say.
“Just a kiss, that’s all it takes. Nothing more or less, unless you want more,” he said, flashing his teeth again.
She looked around the house.
I could definitely use a little break. Maybe it would help, she thought.
“One kiss,” she said, “that’s it. And you better turn me back.”
The Cat smiled and stood, offering his hand to her.
He pulled her up to face him and Farrah swallowed hard. Their faces were close together and her heart was beginning to stammer. Farah’s nerves were getting the best of her, but she tried to ignore them.
“Ready when you are,” The Cat said.
She took a deep breath and exhaled.
“Tell me your name.”
“Apollo,” he said.
“Apollo,” Farah repeated, and kissed him quickly on the lips.
“Oh come on,” he said, “I’m not a frog. It has to be better than that.”
“I’m trying my best here, this isn’t an everyday occurrence,” she replied, flustered.
He gave her a doubtful look.
She turned away from him.
“Hold on now, you’re going to give up such a chance so easily?”
The Cat grabbed Farrah’s wrist and turned her around.
“Maybe it would help if I showed you what you’re actually worth,” he said.
“I’m done needing others to make me feel like I’m worth something, Cat,” she replied. But her heart still raced when he’d said it.
He pushed her hair from her shoulder.
“Can I at least try?”
He took her by the waist and pulled her close. The heavy smell of petrichor on him was intoxicating and Farah’s loud mind started to quiet.
The cat pressed his hand into her hip, running the other up her back. His touch spread a chill up her spine.
“Say my name,” he whispered in between planting gentle kisses on her neck.
She was mesmerized by him. Marco had never kissed her this way, like he really wanted her. Like she was important to him.
The Cat moved to her lips and brushed his against hers, not kissing her just yet.
“Say it,” he said, his voice nearly a growl.
He kissed her then, so deep and passionate that time stopped. All she could think about was him, and she kissed him back, hungry for more.
His name spilled from her lips like a wish.
He kissed her again and again until the world went black.
Damn, she thought as she started to fall, but she felt him catch her and lay her gently on the floor.
Farah came to, looking up at her coffee table which looked abnormally large. Her head was spinning and she felt nauseated. She rubbed a hand to her eye, only realizing after that it was a fur covered paw instead.
No way, she thought.
She willed herself to stand and she did. The distance between her and the floor hardly changed.
The gray cat stared at her over the edge of the table.
“Let’s play!” Apollo shouted.
He leapt down in front of Farah and bent his front half forwards, then pounced on her before she knew what was happening. They tumbled across the living room together. Farah was filled with adrenaline.
This is all in my head, she thought.
Once they’d had enough, Apollo led the way out of the house, popping a screen out of the front room window. Farah leapt behind him from the window ledge to the ground with ease and they made their way into the woods.
Farah heard thunder rumble from a distance and stopped. Apollo made his way back to her and nudged her chin with his nose.
“Don’t worry, we’ll be alright,” he said.
The world felt different now. The lush woods were infinite and the trees towered above them. The smell of the dirt and leaves was intense and she craved it, breathing in as deep as her small lungs would allow. Leaves tickled her coat as she walked past, welcoming her to their home.
The two cats leapt onto boulders and low hanging branches. They brushed against flowers and watched butterflies and dragonflies flutter around them. Neither of them spoke, but every now and then Apollo fixated on Farah, watching her explore. She didn’t know how to smile as a cat so she locked her eyes on him instead, hoping he’d understand.
The thunder crept closer. The sky turned cerulean and through the trees she could see dark clouds coming towards them. Apollo found a boulder with a flat top and called out to Farah. They climbed atop it and she perched herself on the edge while Apollo came to sit beside her. She felt the odd sensation of her tail floating behind her.
“It’s pretty great, huh?” Apollo said.
“This is … incredible. But I’m sure this isn’t real,” she replied, “I don’t know what’s happened to me, but I know it isn’t. It makes me kind of sad to be honest. I’m not sure I want to wake up.”
Apollo nuzzled her.
“Why is it so hard for you to believe this?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied, “sometimes I feel like I just don’t deserve to feel good.”
“You deserve to feel good. Everyone does, except for the people that try to convince you that you don’t,” Apollo replied.
It began to rain, but the boulder was protected by the canopy of a large oak tree. Farah listened to every raindrop hit every leaf.
She didn’t understand what was happening to her, however she did understand that for once she felt content. She laid down in the center of the boulder and Apollo came to rest beside her. She fell asleep to the sounds of the rain and the rustling leaves.
Farah woke in her bed at twilight. She looked down at her body, human as ever, wearing a blue sundress she hadn’t seen in weeks.
Her body felt strange, buzzing with something she couldn’t explain. Her head pounded and her limbs felt awkward and heavy. She looked around the house, hoping to find Apollo, but he wasn’t in the room and the house was silent.
I knew it, she thought, trying to force down her disappointment. I was imagining it.
Anger bubbled inside her. She wanted it so badly to be real.
Just a ridiculous fantasy for a lonely person, she scolded herself.
She thought of Apollo and missed him. She knew he wasn’t real, but she still missed him anyway.
Farah forced herself out of bed and made her way to the kitchen. She needed to eat something but didn’t have much appetite. She decided all the stress from the past few months had finally made her ill, and she must have slept all day with an exceptionally realistic dream. She opened the refrigerator but didn’t know what to take, so she settled for two slices from the bread bag and let the door close.
She dropped her food when she turned around.
“Oh god!” she yelped. Apollo sat at the dining table, his silver hair still wet from the rain.
“You’re real,” Farrah said.
“You’re also real,” Apollo replied, “should we keep pointing out obvious things or fetch actual food? I’m starving.”
She glanced at the patio door, then did a double take, noticing her hazel eyes had black slits down the center. Turning towards the glass, she opened her mouth and found strange teeth pointed at the ends.
“Okay, so I lied a tiny bit. But I think it suits you,” Apollo said, coming to stand behind her.
Farah’s breath caught in her throat. He took her palm and raised it to her.
“Go on, snap,” he said.
Something inside her begged her to do it.
Farah exhaled, snapping her fingers together.
She looked towards her reflection once more, the face of a white cat with orange and black fur staring back at her.