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Writing Cat: a rewrite [PG]


Godelsensei
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Somebody might remember I submitted this story a while ago. After writing the original in two hours and never fixing any of it up, I decided to re-write it, taking into account what suggestions I'd received on how to do so.

So here it is. (Sorry for the lack of indentation--you know how forums are.)

[b]Cat:[/b] [i]a rewrite[/i]

Dolly was five and a half when her family moved from their farm out west and a little north into a house in the city.
It was not an exceptionally large house or one of particularly inspiring design?three bedrooms, an admittedly spacious kitchen, and a handful of miscellaneous other rooms, all quite dreary. It had a front yard and a backyard and the beginnings of a garden out front. None of these were ever littered with toys; the driveway was not a canvas for chalk knights in shining armor; the closest the house ever came to appearing as though it might house children was when her older brother, Tom, left his shiny, red bicycle on the lawn while he darted inside to eat or do homework or draw between rides.
The bicycle looked quite out of place in front of the house, bright, clean, and functional. It was that way because he took care of it, like he did himself, for the most part.
Dolly did not see much of Tom and, consequentially, wanted to be just like him. But she was not allowed outside by herself in the city, so she would try and achieve this similarity by spending all her free hours drawing consistently pleasant images in thick marker and sticking them to the refrigerator. Dolly grew as proficient at drawing as any five and a half year old ever will and, thus, began to find the practice dull. And so, one day, upon noticing her father, or perhaps Tom, had left the garage door open decided she would go out.
She darted from the house out the back door, while her mother bawled into the telephone towards the front of the house. She had not mentioned being upset to Dolly, who could only suppose it had something to do with the shards of a vase that had been intact when she left for kindergarten that morning. Dolly thought she remembered the vase having always rested on a desk back at the farm. Then, it had been full of flowers and accompanied by a small card, reading, Happy 3rd something too long to read, Ian & Victoria. It was older than she was, but she did not think on it very long?the garage and getting to it was what mattered right now.
Creeping through the knee-high grass at the side of the house without being seen proved far simpler than she had anticipated. Upon reaching the front, she scurried into the darkness of the garage and behind some boxes, accumulating several bicycle-grease stains to her shirt, shorts, and shoes in the process.
That was where she found him, tucked between an old motor, some tires, and a series of garbage bins.
?Green!? Dolly pointed an accusing finger at the even comparatively diminutive figure, having not missed a beat. ?You?re green.?
?Yes. I suppose I am.? The little man?s eyes were wide and yellow, the pupils immensely dilated in the shadows.
?People aren?t supposed to be green.? She crossed her arms over her little chest haughtily and demanded to know why he was in her father?s garage. The man recoiled a little, behind a garbage bin, as if frightened of her. His response, however, was somewhat inflammatory.
?This isn?t your garage. I?ve never seen you in it before?just the giants. One of them rides a bicycle.?
?Those are my family. Why are you here? Do you?? Suddenly, Dolly was fascinated by the little man and dropped down to her knees. She crept towards him. ?You don?t?live here, do you??
?I don?t remember any place else, so I guess I must. Where do you live??
?Outside. In the world.? Then, as an afterthought, ?I?m Dolly.?
?Ahh?the world. I?d like to see the world, but I?m too afraid. Perhaps when I?m older.? He moved towards her. ?How old are you, Dolly??
?Five. Five and a half, actually.? At that, the little man gave out a cry of amazement and pronounced her as worldly as any one could ever hope to be. Dolly, ego now inflated to a remarkable degree, told him Tom was already twelve and could walk to school by himself.
?Oh, but how old and tired he must be already? What is school??
?A place you go to learn.?
?Stories? Do you learn stories there, Dolly??
?I guess so.?
?Tell me one!? His face lit up and then was all of a sudden disappointed when she admitted she remembered none of particular interest. ?I guess I?ll have to tell a story then. That?s all right, though. I like telling stories. They?re my favourite, you know.? The little man cleared his throat. He was completely out from behind the garbage bins now and seemed quite confident. ?Once,? he said, pausing for what must have been dramatic effect, ?there was a cat. A big one and orange, with the most beautiful whiskers you?ve ever seen. She had a giant, fluffy tail and could be everywhere at once she was so quick. But that?s not what was special about her?nope, no, not at all. See, she was a special cat, beyond being pretty and quick.?
?How??
?She could fly Dolly.? At this, she wrinkled her five-and-a-half-year-old nose.
?That?s stupid. Cats don?t fly. It?s impossible.?
?Why?s it impossible??
?Because of?because?? She could have said science, but thought that might be a touch too vague. ?Because?gravity!? There was an iota of triumph in her voice.
?What?s that?? The little man cocked an eyebrow.
?It?s this thing?this sort of sticky stuff all over the Earth. It keeps us from flying off into space. That?s what Tom told me and he knows everything.?
?Not everything.?
?What??
?He forgot one thing, Dolly?birds!?
?Birds??
?Birds can fly, can?t they??
?Oh,? said Dolly, ?yes.? She supposed they could.
?This cat could fly, too, and always for a good reason. See, she?d help people?fly after things that blew away from them, like hats and umbrellas. She?d rescue little kittens from the tops of trees and catch little birds that fell from their nests and put them back, safe and sound, and very lucky. But?one day?? His voice grew melancholy. ?One day, she disappeared. No one knows where she went.? Dolly opened her mouth to ask a question, but felt a rigid hand on her shoulder. She looked up and behind her.
?Dolly! What on earth do you think you?re doing! Get back inside the house?I?ve been searching for you everywhere.? Her mother?s eyes scanned her small figure and bulged slightly. ?I am not washing this new shirt by hand. If that grease doesn?t come out in the wash, too bad.?
She did not address the little man and when Dolly looked behind her, he was gone.

That night?s dinner was spaghetti and meat sauce. Her father told her mother it was delicious, to which she responded by getting up and leaving the table.
Dolly noticed Tom bite his lip. For a split second, she thought he might cry, then remembered that was something Tom was too old for.

As she was being tucked into bed, Dolly asked her mother if she thought cats could fly if they really wanted to. ?Don?t be silly, Dolly. Of course not. They don?t have wings, do they??
?What do you mean? Of course cats could fly if they really wanted to.? They looked up to see Tom standing in the doorway. ?Anything?ll fly if you hit it hard enough.?
?Tomas?? Their mother?s expression softened significantly. Dolly could only glance between the two, transfixed. She felt as though they had both forgotten about her completely. Then, breaking the silence, ?It?s time for bed?school tomorrow.?
Tom abandoned the doorway quickly, their mother behind him.

The next morning, at breakfast, Dolly asked her brother what he had meant the night before: ?Do you really think they could, Tom? I mean, if they really wanted to??
He stopped mid-motion in bringing a spoonful of Cheerios to his mouth, looked at her, and said nothing. The bags under his eyes gave the impression of his not having slept well in weeks.
Dolly shifted her attention to the toast he had made her all of five minutes ago and did not speak again. However, in the privacy of her own mind, she wondered. She wondered and wondered and wondered, until it occurred to her she ought to ask the little man in the garage again, and, thus, she set out to do so.
When she finally found herself alone in the great dark cavern of the garage, he was nowhere to be found. She wished she had found out his name, so she might call out to him. But she hadn?t thought to. He was gone.
Several days later, Dolly found herself watching her father pack up his tools, toolboxes, old machinery, and just about everything else that wasn?t Tom?s bicycle. Her father emptied other things as well: his closet, the basement, a number of drawers. The whole time, he was silent?the entire house was silent. That whole day, nothing seemed to move. Nothing but Dolly?s father, who, once he was done packing, moved very quickly in the car and away.
Her mother did not say when he might be back.

It was in the middle of the day, a week later, after her birthday, that she saw her. She was bigger than most cats and orange. Her whiskers, though immense in length, did not droop. Her fur was terrifically thick?one could tell even from Dolly?s porch?and she yawned before crossing the road. It was the kind of yawn that put every other being in its place, the kind of yawn that might remind one of another cat, one they had heard of what seemed like a long time ago, from some one they had all but forgotten. Dolly thought she would ask her if she thought she could fly if she really wanted to; surely, on top of that feat, talking would have been positively mundane.
She sprung up from her seat on the porch and made her way towards the creature and the middle of the road, her eyes all the while gazing ahead. She advanced across the lawn in what was at once both a walk and a skip. Her pigtails?the ones Tom had helped her tie that morning?bobbed up and down against her shoulder blades as a new array of freckles developed on her little face in the sunlight.
The front door slammed and she thought she might have heard some one approaching from behind, but didn?t think on either of these things?her only thought was the cat. Her eyes followed its path across the street: the street she was about to cross herself when a pair of arms flew out from behind her and held her back, preventing her from doing so. Dolly would have protested if she hadn?t seen the car. It was moving too fast?too fast for a place where people lived. Too fast to stop. Even Dolly knew that.
The cat didn?t. It didn?t stop crossing. It dared the car to keep coming, to try and hit it.
It did.
Dolly?s eyes could have been mistaken for saucers as she watched the regal, feline form fly through the air. It was a sight she had seen in her mind?s eye countless times, only viciously warped. She watched its form land at the side of the road. Its belly had not been split like other animals she?d seen at the side of the road. It was not flattened in any area?just broken. Broken and bleeding; its bones might as well have been jelly. Most horrifically, however, its body trembled with heavy breath?it wasn?t dead yet. Not quite.
Dolly blinked. She looked up at her brother; he still had his arms around her, as if fearing she would run if he let go. Suddenly, she knew what he?d meant, all those nights ago, just before bed. ?He?s not coming back, is he??


Tomas began to cry.
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