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Friendship Coming of Age Kids

"meow." said Felix.

"I'm sorry, what was that?" Sarge said excitedly, jumping up at the prospect of a conversation.

"meow. Just… meow." said Felix, a little more unsure.

"Yeah, but… what does it mean?" Sarge said, making his way closer to Felix.

"Never mind…"

"No, don't do that! Don't leave me hanging!"

Felix was pretending to be busy licking his front paws. Sarge was now a foot away, standing mightily on all fours. The beautiful blonde labradoodle overlooking the small grey Norwegian cat.

"WOOF!" Sarge said, startling Felix the feline into jumping back a few inches.

"SARGE! NO BARKING!" barked a human voice from the kitchen.

"Was that it?" Sarge asked Felix in a whisper, his tail speaking louder than he was allowed to.

Felix had a nasty habit of contorting his body when he was in situations he did not want to be in. His perceived awkwardness was particularly obvious to him, reinforcing his initial anxiety and thus creating a sinister cycle of discomfort. At this moment, Felix had his front paws as far away on the ground in front of his face as possible, while his tail pulled the back end of his body as high as possible. The irony of his perfect "downward dog" was lost in the moment.

"No…"

"WOOF!"

"SARGE!"

"Stop that!" Felix hissed.

"Tell me, then!"

"It's… it's…"

"An exclamation? An onomatopoeia? A question? No: an answer!..."

Felix was a little more relaxed now. He laid quietly, content with letting Sarge keep spouting nonsense. At least he didn't have to try to talk anymore.

"…A philosophical musing? A very short song?" Sarge finally stopped.

There was a short silence where the two looked at each other.

"I'm sorry, Felix… You were saying?"

Felix now had the floor. It's ok, he prepared for this. He's had time to think of a thing to say. Calmly, breathing in deeply, he said:

"What does it mean when you say: 'WOOF'?"

"WOOF!"

"SARGE!" This time the voice was followed by strong footsteps down the stairs to the basement. It belongs to Mom.

"What are you doing to Felix?" she asked, spotting the pair in deep debate. "Do you want to go for a walk?"

Sarge knew to stay quiet. 'WOOF' means many things, including 'I want to go for a walk,' however, Sarge did not want to go for a walk.

"MOM!" a voice said from the kitchen. Sarge couldn't help it and

"WOOF!"

***

Felix doesn't go on walks. It's not that he doesn't want to, but people think he doesn't. At this point, he's in too deep to change their perception of him. It seems like a lot of effort, a lot of confrontation.

Sarge loves walks. He can pee on everything! People cross the street to say hi to him! Everybody loves him!

Felix likes Sarge. By being so large, Sarge takes charge in a crowded room. Felix was fine with Mom and the two smaller humans, but whenever more people came, it became very loud. Too loud. Spaces were smaller and seemed to be constantly closing in.

Sarge loves Felix. Sarge loves Mom and the two smaller humans. Sarge loves peeing on everything.

Felix wishes he could be more like Sarge. Why does everything have to be a big deal to him? Why does he always feel the need to be the other side of the coin, and not be the constant source of joy Sarge seems to be?

Felix knows he has it in him. He knows he has the possibility to make everybody happy too! He can show his happy face! He can

"WOOF!"

Felix couldn't wait to tell Sarge all about it.

***

Felix was sleeping on the windowsill when Sarge, Mom, and the two smaller humans returned. He felt he imagined the bark. Seeing Sarge, how could he have possibly imitated him? He would not tell Sarge, for fear of being mocked.

"FELIX! Boy am I glad to see you!"

Felix was legitimately the happiest cat for half a second when he heard that. The moment was so short because a Persian cat named Michael Phelps finally caught the red dot.

Felix jumped off the windowsill to meet his friend in greeting.

"I've thought a lot about the whole, you know… the…"

"Meowing?"

"YES! Boy I wish I could do that!"

"I think you can, it's somewhere inside you!"

"But I tried a lot on my walk, and every time, I just

WOOF!"

Felix was sure. Sarge was incredible, there was nothing he couldn't do.

"I think you're trying to hard. It's really not hard. It's actually quite relieving. Like you're loosening a knot in your stomach."

Sarge was smiling. His tongue was hanging stupidly. Felix shook his head in disdain.

"I don't think you can understand… This comes from so deep inside. It's true to your core, it's who you are. People see you as one thing, and even if it's not the truth, you are that thing. You have to entertain that thing."

"You mean like being a happy puppy and making sure everyone stays smiling? Yeah, I think I know that…" Sarge said in an uncharactistically sarcastic tone.

Felix was surprised at this. And then he knew. He knew that his bark came from the same place Sarge's meow would. Felix liked people, he liked company, but was told he didn't. Sarge liked people, he liked company, but he also liked being left alone. Being taken seriously. Sarge was as categorized as he was.

"I thought that was who you were too." Felix admitted, knowing it right to share.

Sarge stood still a second. He stopped. Everything. He was a lump of fur and blood, not a cushion of joy and enthusiasm. For a second, he was biological; unsympathetic. This was the real Sarge. The real Sarge. The dog beneath the pet, the animal behind the friend. As soon as he pondered this new feeling he was back to being the Sarge everyone knew him to be.

"That was weird. That was… cold."

"It was real." Felix said, brutally reassuring.

Silence.

"It's like I lost all my fur. Like I was bare to my bones. I was still me, but it felt so empty."

Silence. Felix stared at him intensely.

"I'm sorry." Felix said, egging him on. "For pushing you."

"meow."

Felix smiled.

"Tell me about it."

July 27, 2021 05:57

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1 comment

Karen Lethlean
05:40 Aug 12, 2021

Well handled. I love the way these two can communicate across species barriers. Also the way you have captured one loves going for a walk. Yet the other, well a whole different lifestyle. Thanks and keep writing.

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