“Come on, Mr. Butterball. It’s time now. It’s moving day.”
First off, I despised the name Mr. Butterball. I was a cat and not a turkey.
Alice came up with the name because the family adopted me around Thanksgiving. Alice was five at the time. The rest of the family thought it was cute.
“Alice, please stop calling me that. Why couldn’t you have picked a cool name like Thor or Batman?”
“Hush, Mr. Butterball. If Mom hears me talking to you she’ll think I clearly lost my mind.”
I was lying on Alice’s bed at the edge of her cozy pink comforter. I wished to stay here all day snoozing. I only left the security of the comforter to eat and use the “sandbox” as Alice called it.
I still recall when Alice discovered my special ability. I had cuddled up with her while she was asleep. I was not normally a cuddly kind of cat but Alice was so sweet that I didn’t mind.
Her mom had come in her room to remind Alice it was time to get up for school. At that point Sweet Alice turned into a demon possessed.
No! I’m not going! I don‘t wanna go!” she yelped.
After her mother left, I spoke my piece.
“You’d better listen to her, Allie. Come on, it’s Kindergarten. You play with paint and sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. How bad can it be?”
She looked at me as if she were about to scream again. Then she got up and raced toward her parent‘s bedroom.
“Mommy! Daddy! Mr Butterball talks!”
Of course her parents chuckled at this. Their little girl had such a vivid imagination!
So the only one who knew of my specialness was Alice. She tried to tell her brother once. She brought him to me and of course I refused to say a word. Her brother proclaimed Alice “wacko” and threatened to tell everyone at school. So that was the end of that.
Alice was now eleven and our conversations took place late at night when the house was quiet and everyone was asleep. She would tell me about school and how Mrs. Redfield praised her essay as the best in class. She told me that Chloe was her best friend now. And she liked Travis but Chloe liked him too and she didn’t want to hurt her friend.
I admitted a child’s problems could seem a bit trivial at times. But I listened patiently just the same.
I was there for her when her parents split up and her mom was involved in her own drama and she seemed to almost ignore Alice and her brother. I gave her the standard divorcing parent advice.
“They still love you Allie. Even if they no longer love one another.”
That seemed to help her and soon she became used to shuffling between Mom’s place and Dad’s.
I was devastated when Alice informed me we were moving. Her mother had found a sprawling house outside of the city with a yard and everything.
Now I was a confirmed house cat. A yard meant nothing to me. I did not even like going out on the terrace of our apartment building. The noises of the city unnerved me. I preferred to be hiding in the dark corners of a closet or under Allie’s bed.
As you may have guessed, I was a fat tabby who was set in his ways. I was nine years old when we got ready to move to the new house. That is sixty-three in human years.
Alice was also getting older. She had started going to the movies and the mall alone with her friends. She was becoming interested in clothes, makeup, and boys. She confided in her friends now instead of an old cat.
Alice went to the closet to get the cat carrier and that was when I freaked.
“Oh, no. You are not putting me in that thing. I am not spending an hour in a car in that.”
She calmly unlocked the carrier and calmly put me inside it as I shrieked and fussed.
“You know, you can go in the moving van. Either way, I’m not letting you out.”
The van was a horrible alternative. At least in the car I would be with Allie.
So, the new house wasn‘t so bad. It was way bigger than the apartment and there were plenty of closets and hidden crevices in which to disappear. I was beginning to like it there until I found out the reason for the move to the suburbs.
Alice’s mom had remarried.
Her new husband had two boys around the same age as Alice’s brother. So now the house was constantly overrun with loud, obnoxious teenagers raiding the fridge and drinking and smoking weed on the sly. One of the stepbrothers was a sadist who liked to torture me by pulling my tail and grabbing me by my hair.
“I’m running away,” I told Alice one night.
“Where are you gonna go, Mr. Butterball? You’re an indoor cat. You wouldn‘t survive out there.”
I admitted she was right. I was not going anywhere without Allie.
The years passed and Alice grew up. Soon she was sixteen. She was driving, had a part-time job at the ice cream store and was in the choir and on the swim team. She also had a boyfriend with cat allergies. I told her I hoped the relationship didn‘t last.
Eventually my health began to fail. I had never been the most active cat but now I barely left the confines of the worn old pink comforter.
Alice was inconsolable when the vet told her and her mom my kidneys were failing and there was nothing more to be done.
For the next two days, she stayed with me. She did not go to school and barely left her room.
I was too weak to speak, but I did manage to get a few words out.
“Promise me you won’t get another cat.”
Alice gently stroked me for the last time.
“I can’t promise that. But I can promise I can never love another one like you.”
I fell asleep with Alice beside me, ready to move on to my next life.