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***Please note: this humorous story was born of frustration in trying to come up with something for contest #187 cat prompts. It is submitted here for my followers’ enjoyment, rather than as a contest entry, since I simply couldn’t just come up with a way to START the story with a stray cat leading a character somewhere LOL. ***


A CAT-BRAINED TALE


Good evening folks. It’s time for another episode of Life with the Banters, your Seniors Storytime radio show coming to you live from the M.E.O.W. Network, and sponsored by our friends at Purry Furry Feline Foods, the first choice of cat lovers everywhere. 


In our episode tonight, as Matthew so often does, he manages to get Martha’s dander up when he’s only trying to be helpful. Let’s take a listen to what’s going on…”


“Martha, is “Cat-Brained” another little story you’re writing? If so, you’ve got the idiom wrong. The idiom is hare-brained, not cat-brained.”


“Matthew, yes. I’m trying to write a story but I’m taking writer’s license to modify a common idiom to suit my story and my current state of mind.”


“Are you saying you’re cat-brained, not hare-brained? Forgive me, but will you still love me if I dispute that?”


“Stop it. That’s nasty. Why don’t you ask me what the problem is instead of having a go at me when you don’t even know what’s bothering me?”


“Okay. So what’s up?”


“What’s up is my blood pressure! I’m struggling to come up with a good story for one of this week’s Reedsy prompts. The Reedsy prompters have assumed we all love cats and cat stories. Since I’m allergic to cats, they are not my number one choice of companion. Give me our little Scruffy any day. Quiet, obedient, a loyal-to-the-end furry friend whose only fault is making me jump sky-high when he barks.”


“Well, OK. But we have had quite a few cats over 50 years of marriage. You must have some stories to share about them?”


“That’s why I’m saying I’m cat-brained: I have memories of our cats prowling all over my brain, but none of them has clawed their way into a story that suits one of the five prompts. On top of that, most of our stories wouldn’t take 1000 words to tell.”


“Are you kidding me, Martha? When you start talking about something that’s got you excited, you can spit out a thousand words in a minute!”


“But I’m writing, not talking…there’s a difference you know…and I’m not excited about cats. You know what Matthew? You really aren’t helping me right now. I can only think of one possible story that MIGHT fit one of the prompts...and that’s a big might.”


“What prompt is that?”


“Thanks for asking at last. Well, the prompt requires us to write a story about a stray cat leading you somewhere. The only one that comes to mind for me occurred when I was about 7 years old and…”


“And that was over 70 years ago…”


“I don’t need reminding how old I am Matthew! Grrr! Don’t interrupt. You know I can’t remember what I was about to say when you interrupt!”


“Oops…sorry. So what happened with that stray cat and that 7-year-old you?”


“Well, when I spotted it passing by the kitchen window, I had just gotten home from school. I was starving, but there was nothing to eat in the cupboards. We were pretty poor, you know.”


“Yes, you’ve told me that before.”


“Anyway, my father demanded that I always do my homework as soon as I get home, and I was about to do that when I spotted the cat. You know, Matthew, my father was so hard on me, and I was such a lonely, only child…”


Sniff, sniff.


“Awww…don’t go all maudlin on me, Martha. You’ve told me about your father many times, and yes, he wasn’t all that nice. Awww, honey…do you need a tissue? No? Oh, okay then. Get on with your story before you forget it.”


‘Okay. So, even though I knew I was being disobedient, I followed that stray down our street and suddenly realized I’d never come this far before. I wasn’t sure whether to turn left or right…”


“A bit like when you’re driving. Still the same old Martha 70 years later eh?”


“Would you cut it out? That’s mean. Now, where was I? Okay, got it. So I couldn’t make up my mind and I looked around trying to see where the stray cat had gone. I couldn’t see her anywhere, so I decided to turn left where there were a few new houses under construction. I knew I shouldn’t go over there looking for some stray cat, but, as you know, I’m not all that good at deciding what I should or shouldn’t do…”


“I’ll say! Whoops. Sorry. Get on with it Martha. I’ll need to get up to the toilet soon. Is there much more to this story?”


“Fine! So I walked over to the construction site, made my way carefully over fresh floor beams and rubble, and in one corner of the house frame, I found a bunch of newly-born kittens. There were five of them. Their tiny eyes were still closed and I could see their little bodies taking short breaths. I felt so sorry for them. Had they been abandoned? Was the stray cat I’d seen their mother? If so, why wasn’t she nearby? Or had she led me here on purpose?”


“So what did you do?”


“Well, you know how impulsive I am?”


“I do.”


“Well, I wanted to do something to help them, but what? I couldn’t bring them all home. My father would kill me. And what if they actually belonged to some family nearby or one of the construction workers? I could get into trouble for stealing etc.”


“Martha…any chance you could speed this up a little? I really need to go soon. What did you end up doing?”


“So, this is where my story gets a bit sad. Remember how I said I was a lonely, only child? As new immigrants, my mom and dad were working long hours in factories and never got home before 5 pm. We had only moved into our house a month or two earlier. We hardly had any furniture and I hadn’t made any friends yet. So, I somehow convinced myself that if I took just one of the kittens home with me, that would be only a little, not a big steal, right? And with the kittens being so tiny, maybe my father would let me keep it as it wouldn’t eat much. And that way, I wouldn’t be quite as lonely with a little kitten to cuddle.”


“Awww. So what happened? Did you take it home?”


“I did, and much to my surprise, my father let me keep it. He even suggested it might not survive as it hadn’t been weaned, but we could try to keep it alive by giving it regular milk using a dropper.”


“So, sometimes your mean, old dad wasn’t always that hard on you, eh? Glad to hear it. And so, did the kitten make it?”


“Unfortunately no. We kept it alive for a few days. But every one of those days, I would tear home from school, eager to see “Tiny” as I named him. I couldn’t wait for him to open his eyes and see me, to see how much I loved him and that I was caring for him. I so wanted him to know that while he was probably lonely for his mama and sisters and brothers, I too had been lonely until I found him and that now, neither of us was lonely because we had each other.”


“You know what, Martha? That’s a nice story. I think you should submit that one.”


“Really Matthew? Do you think so?”


“I just said so, didn’t I Martha? Listen, honey, I’d like to chat more, but nature’s calling. I hope I helped you out a bit my cat-brained darling, but right now, I really have to go!”


“Yes, you helped a lot, Matthew. About as close to purr-fect as this non-cat person can get. Now go, go, go, and don’t forget to flush.”


“And there you go, folks. Another episode of Life with the Banters brought to you by the M.E.O.W. Network courtesy of Purry Furry Feline Foods. We hope you enjoyed it. Please let us know if you did and be sure to tune in again next week. Thanks for listening.”


March 02, 2023 20:36

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34 comments

KT George
00:11 Mar 04, 2023

Viga, here you go again having a crisis in confidence in your wonderful talent. I loved this story and it fit the prompt nicely. I don't know why you didn't submit it. At least you still published it and shared it with the rest of us. Maybe you have the makings of a podcast here?!

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Viga Boland
00:49 Mar 04, 2023

Thanks for reading it KT. I was really happy with what I had written, but when I double checked the prompt, it said the story had to start with somebody following a stray cat. At that point it was so late in the week I didn’t feel like going back and revamping it. So I figured I’d just submit it and let my followers enjoy it. I was hoping that you would swing by since you were the one that has really encouraged me with that Banter couple LOL. Oddly enough, even as late as today I tossed up the idea of taking a whole different approach to t...

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KT George
15:46 Mar 04, 2023

I love the idea of a collection of Banter stories and an accompanying podcast. I see it in my mind's eye, and it's a hit! 🎉 On a more serious note, the connection with your painful childhood is so powerful. I can see where tapping into those experiences and emotions could be a whole other avenue to explore. What would your inner child want to tell the world about her experiences? I'm sure it's to be seen and heard. 🤗

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Viga Boland
17:09 Mar 04, 2023

Glad you like the Banter collection idea. Haven’t published anything on Amazon or otherwise in 7 years. I felt all “published out” after my 6th book. Hope they’ve made it easier if I do go ahead. I had my son-in-law set up all my previous books. But, with his job, and living in Nashville while I’m in Canada, he has no time to do that for me now. And yes, there)s a ton of inner child stories inside that would resonate with many readers, but after publishing a gut-wrenching memoir that covered from childhood to my 20’s, and 2 other related m...

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Wendy Kaminski
23:45 Mar 02, 2023

Aw that was sweet, Viga! And a little sad, of course, because a kitten isn't going to survive that. I wonder if that stray was the mom, just out getting a little supper. :) I thought the way you handled the intro and the story itself was really good! I'm actually a pet person (cats AND dogs float my boat), and yet I had trouble with these, too. I wouldn't have said it would be a problem to write about cats, but I suspect (from what I've seen) you're going to be judging stories a little on the dark side, this week... heh. :) Good thing you ...

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Viga Boland
00:13 Mar 03, 2023

Aw Wendy. You are SO good for my re-emerging writer’s ego. I’d written off my writing skills…except for reviews…over 7 years ago when I concluded I could only write memoir. Just can’t come up with fictitious stories. Heck, even the Banters are modelled closely on hubby and me, but the stories are indeed fiction. So I guess I’m not as unimaginative as I think LOL. By the way, the story about kitten in CatBrained is true. I am the 7-year-old. I was so upset when Tiny died that I buried him in the field behind our home, and speaking of “dark...

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Wendy Kaminski
00:25 Mar 03, 2023

Well, it's 24+ hrs yet, if you feel up to it: that might make a very good and disturbing "horror" story. You'd have to embellish the end for horror, like the cat comes back to life after all and ends up in her bed or something, but that's got some promise! :) Even if you don't, this was an enjoyable read in its own right. :)

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Viga Boland
00:58 Mar 03, 2023

I’m tempted, but turning into a horror story is just not my thing. I’m considering something but time is short as tomorrow I swim laps for health and poor circulation. Not sure I can pull it off unless I start now…and now is movie time with my Mr.Banter LOL

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Wendy Kaminski
01:01 Mar 03, 2023

hehe Always the rub. Enjoy! :D

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Irene Duchess
03:35 Mar 24, 2023

hehe. this was hysterical. putting writing troubles into a story... :D

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Viga Boland
16:00 Mar 24, 2023

Thanks for reading it Lilah. Lots more where that came from, I hope 🙏

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Irene Duchess
16:37 Mar 24, 2023

Yay

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Michelle Oliver
14:13 Mar 16, 2023

Love your dialogue here, Martha… oh I mean Viga! I can hear the tone of voice in every word. I like the story within a story idea, here. The asides featuring Matthew’s bladder are quite humorous. Keep writing, I am enjoy our slices of life tales.

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Viga Boland
14:25 Mar 16, 2023

Thanks for reading yet another of my hare-brained zanies! “Hearing the tone of voice”… now that’s a re-affirming comment that dialogue handled well reveals character. Thanks for saying that. You read with the ears and eyes of a writer and the heart of a reader. I’m so lucky to have you as a follower. I’m curious if you have somehow missed my second submission, “there’s always tomorrow”? It’s the one that really got me thinking about putting out one more book before I kick the bucket. I have been encouraged by fellow Reedsy writer. KT Geor...

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Rebecca Miles
18:28 Mar 08, 2023

I'm always so impressed by writers who manage to write purely in dialogue. It's one form I've given a wide range up till now, but you make it look so fun I feel I really ought to give it a go! I had a real Reedsy snap moment at the beginning; I too have had cats but not one clawed a story into my cat- brained brain( I love your feline verbs in this).But you gave it a go, brave lady ( while I threw.my hands up!) and the result is an uplifting story which has more than a hint of a playful paw about it. Very enjoyable.

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Viga Boland
23:46 Mar 08, 2023

Thanks so much Rebecca. Glad you enjoyed it. Once I got going with the writing, I enjoyed myself too 😂 I don’t know why, but I find writing totally in dialogue extremely easy. Since I’ve been a child, I’ve been told that I’m a chatterbox and I guess that might have something to do with it. And sometimes when I get going talking to someone, I can’t shut up and that’s not the best thing! But I have no patience with writing long descriptions. And as a book reviewer, I become impatient with those who go on and on with narrative. I feel like the...

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Rebecca Miles
05:47 Mar 09, 2023

I think that was the special form contest. I was very tempted to write that week, but was on holiday in England. I'll have to go back and read some short lists. I'll definitely put dialogue only on my to- do list. I'm really interested in your points on foregrounding plot and character through it with more zip than narration. Reedsy is a great place for a bit of experimentation; feedback here, including critique, is just so helpful - and often fun ( let's have a good chatter!)

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Mary Bendickson
17:35 Mar 07, 2023

This would have worked fine in the prompt. Stop selling yourself short. Anyone who can write 7 memoirs or anything is a writer. And you have oodles of imagination. I understand about the 1000 words sometime. The real short story I just finished 'Holes in My Story' kept getting rejected for only having 990 words even though my Word said 1086 count. So I just 'just'-tified somewhat and that was that!

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Viga Boland
23:50 Mar 07, 2023

Mary, thanks for taking the time to visit my page and read all of my stories. I feel honored, even if you give me too much credit 😂. Now it’s my turn to return the favour and I’m really looking forward to reading your other submissions. Lovely to meet you here and I look forward to reading more by you in the future.

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13:48 Mar 07, 2023

Nice story Viga, I’m also allergic to cats do not my favourite pet but sad to see this little one didn’t make it.

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Viga Boland
14:41 Mar 07, 2023

Hi Jeannette! Thanks so much for taking time to slip over here, read, like and comment. You are a true friend. At least you came through. Quite frankly, I think I should just give up trying to resurrect myself as a writer on the Facebook platform. Think I’ll stick to posting pictures, funnies, and memes on there and be happy I have support for my writing efforts on here LOL.

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Jack Kimball
23:36 Mar 03, 2023

Hi Viga. What I liked best is your stories are unique to you; your personality just takes over. The image in my mind was the beginning of It's a Wonderful Life with James Stewart. I bet you love that movie is my guess (kind of random I know). And you wrote a piece that matched the prompt after all didn't you?

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Viga Boland
19:14 Mar 06, 2023

Hi Jack…sorry I somehow missed your most encouraging reply to this story. Thanks very much. Love what you said. And yes, I guess, in essence, I did match the prompt but I didn’t start my story in the way the prompt instructed. The judges are required to see it does what’s required.That’s why I didn’t enter this one in the contest. Not to worry: there were so many more deserving stories by others. And just an FYI…nope. I have never seen It’s a Wonderful Life…Or I don’t remember seeing it. Old 77-year-old brain is getting forgetful nowadays 😂

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Wally Schmidt
01:49 Mar 03, 2023

Really like the acronyms you use M.E.O.W. Network and Purry Furry Feline Foods. I could imagine a child feeling less lonely because they had adopted (okay, stole) a pet and was relieved that the father let her keep Tiny. Like how you got in your message about Reesdy Prompsters too LOL

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Viga Boland
03:34 Mar 03, 2023

Thanks very much Wally for reading this and for your observations. I had fun writing it once I got going. As for the child and the kitten, that part is true. I was that child. 😉

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Wally Schmidt
21:00 Mar 03, 2023

If the other part mentioned in the story, being the child of immigrants, is true, I hope you will write about that one day too. Many of us have immigration stories and they are always heartfelt and each one is unique. Looking forward to -maybe- reading yours one day.

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Viga Boland
21:22 Mar 03, 2023

If the right prompt comes along, I certainly will. Thanks for suggesting it. BTW, I’m delighted that primary prompts judge for contest #186 chose to mention your super story, “Dale was Adamant” when praising several the short-listed pieces. Did you see that article? I was the one who short-listed you. I thought your story was one of the best I read/judged last week 😉 Here’s the link if you didn’t: https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/186/

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Wally Schmidt
01:19 Mar 04, 2023

Well then I have more thank-you's to extend to you. I profess total ignorance about the judging process, but was delighted to be considered for the honor. Always curious about the process if you can elaborate without breaking any of the rules. How many stories do you read? How many judges read each story? I assume it is blind judging, but it seems like it would be easy enough to figure out who wrote what once people start commenting. See, another interesting topic for a story: judging! Thank you, Viga, and all the judges and writers here at...

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Lily Finch
23:03 Mar 02, 2023

Viga, cute story! LF6.

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Viga Boland
23:09 Mar 02, 2023

Thanks Lily. Inspired by yours so i have to give you credit 😉

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Viga Boland
23:14 Mar 02, 2023

Question: how did you know I posted this story? Just by checking those you follow or do you get a notification if someone you are following posts a story? I’m still learning the ropes on Reedsy. Thanks

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Lily Finch
23:50 Mar 02, 2023

It is under the story tab and then activities, I think. It only shows who you are following. LF6.

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Viga Boland
00:03 Mar 03, 2023

Thanks Lily

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Viga Boland
22:40 Mar 02, 2023

Thanks for liking my story, Corey Mellin

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