Woo-hoo! Tenth chapter!
I've realised they're getting steadily longer. Oh well, you don't mind, do you? :P
I don't own cats.
And I can't think of a lame joke to use.
The garden had already been warmed in the early morning sun by the time my eyes crept open. I snuggled one last time into my furry pillow that was my uncle, then moved away to stretch.
My back ached and my head felt too heavy for me, but I was safe, away from Macavity and heading home.
I trotted gingerly into the decimated flower-garden, taking pleasure in the scent of the crushed petals. I wondered what had caused the destruction here.
I grinned, thinking perhaps Jem would play with me when we got home.
'Missy? Missy!' Tugger called me. He sounded panicked.
I skidded in front of him, feeling one leg weaker than the other three. 'What is it?'
He stared at me. 'Oh. You're there.'
'Yes...' I was confused.
'Thought I'd lost you. Your mother would've killed me.'
I looked up at him with eyes almost as big as Jemima's. 'And you'd be upset, too, right?'
He coughed. 'Yeah... yeah I would. But don't-'
'I know. Don't tell.'
Tugger chuckled. 'I should get you out of here before you turn into me. Then you mother really would kill me.'
I brightened. 'We're going home?' My heart raced.
'Yep. Take one last lookat the place- you know you'll miss it.'
'Oh.' He sounded a little hurt.
I quickly explained. 'Well, I'll see you again, won't I?'
He sighed, like it was a chore. 'I suppose.'
'I'd better.' I threatened jokingly. 'And, well, no offense, but your garden isn't very... pretty...'
He laughed. 'Oh, that. I get bored every now and then. And I can't stand an immaculate lawn.'
I giggled. 'That's really naughty.'
He began to walk towards a hole in the design of the ornamental fence. He pulled at a loose bar to widen the opening enough to walk through. 'Have you met the Rum Tum Tugger?'
Squeezing through the gap ahead of him, I had to recognise his point.
My home came into view and I forgot all about my pain. I broke into a run.
'Whoa there, Missy. I can see that leg about to fall off. Just take it easy.'
I slowed. Tugger was right- my back leg was still very sore.
He walked next to me, as protectively as Daddy ever did. We approached the familiar fence, just as I had left it the amount of days- that I realised I didn't know- ago, except the hedge that ran alongside the left side was untrimmed. Sean usually went out each afternoon to cut away at it, letting me play with the trimmings as they fell. There was something wrong.
'There's something wrong.' I worried.
'There was, Missy. But I think it'll be okay now.'
I didn't understand. Instead, I wormed into the hedge with Tugger following. Through the leaves, I saw my family.
My insides burst into happiness. I was home- and Daddy and Mother were watching for me. Jem was waiting patiently. Dear Jem!
I wanted to bound through and hug them- and Bomba, wherever she was- all at once, but something stopped me. I looked a little closer at them, and noticed something that made me gasp.
Daddy and Mother weren't watching- she was licking his wounds. Daddy's pretty silver coat was shattered by scratches and cuts. Jemima wasn't being patient- she was sad, worried. Sitting alone as she always did when she was troubled.
I wanted to run to them now more than ever. I readied myself for a jubilant reunion.
Tugger stopped me.
I looked up at him 'What is it?'
He winked. 'Always make an entrance.' He cleared his throat, lyrically. He called from insdie the bush, propelling me out only at the end. 'I've got a delivery here for a very sore big brother of mine. No returns.'
I emerged. with Tugger behind.
'Arti!' Jemima yelped, pelting towards me with frightening speed. 'Oh, Arti, you're safe!' She was careful not to hug me, instead nuzzling a bruise-free shoulder.
By this time Mother had caught up, Daddy just behind her. They didn't say anything, but Mother brushed some stray fur flat on my head. Daddy and I shared a look. He smiled his bestest smile, the warmest, most loving one. I had missed it so much.
Tugger was standing awkwardly now behind us. My parents looked at him. Mother was first to speak, something that seemed to surprise both toms.
'Thankyou, Tugger. You brought her back to us.'
He looked even more awkward. 'Well, you know... I had to meet her sometime. Why not in mortal danger?'
Jem giggled, and Daddy rolled his eyes. 'Thanks, Rum.'
'Well, thanks for giving me the job that didn't involve me looking like roadkill. You okay, Straps?'
Daddy grimaced. 'I'm in better shape than Alonzo.'
Tugger sucked in air quickly. 'Ouch. Where's he?'
'Bomba took him to Jelly.' Jemima answered, still snuggling up to me.
'Sorry she's not here to say hi.' Mother joked. I didn't get what was funny, but Jem giggled.
Tugger ignored them. 'What about the twins?'
'Last I heard, they were headed home.'
I thought for a moment about what they'd be doing right now. Possibly being cuddled and called 'diddums' over and over, depending on what shape they were in. I hoped they weren't hurt.
'I'll head over and check on them.' Tugger offered. 'See you soon.' He turned to go.
'Wait!' I called, just in time. I gave him a careful but affectionate hug. 'Thankyou.' I whispered.
I could have sworn I heard Daddy stifle a laugh.
I stepped back towards the others. Mother was trying to hold down a grin. Tugger noticed.
'What, no hug from the lovely Demeter?'
'Don't push it.'
He grinned and disappeared over our fence.
'You two should take Arti in.' Daddy brushed my ear. 'Your family'll want to know she's safe.'
Jemima took my paw. 'I'll take her.' She offered. 'Come on, Arti.'
The kitchen was warm. Rachel was at the bench, doing something. Jem mewed.
"Hello Jemmy. Missing your sister? I- Oh!" She looked down and noticed me.
"Mum? You okay?" It was Celeste. "What is it?"
"What? Arty!" She bent down and picked me up. It hurt, but I didn't mind. I purred. "Oh, Mum, she's hurt!"
"Don't worry- we'll take her to the vet, sweetheart. Put her in the basket for now, okay?"
Celeste carried me to my basket. Jem bounded in before me, plumped my cushion with her nose and settled before I was lowered in.
I sank into the soft bedding. Jemima purred loudly next to me. She was warm. As I relaxed, she licked a few of my cuts.
'Sleep now, Arti. Love you.'
Haven't quite got a song yet...
If you have any suggestions, could you PM me?
Otherwise, I'll edit this space when I think of one.