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Amber Paulen

Inside/Outside Cat

Sofà Sofonisba and Brinquedo Brincadeira have found themselves in a perfectly indeterminate situation. Brinquedo, being an outside cat, has found a door through which he may pass when he pleases; Sofà, being an inside cat, has been allowed to pass through that same door. It is to each their own passage; for the door, to an inside cat and an outside cat, is of a completely different meaning.

Brinquedo’s life is spent on the outside of many closed doors and Sofà‘s on the inside of only one. In the evening time, as the fathomless blue of twilight sticks near to the horizon—everyday it is sticking there for longer—this afore mentioned door is left at a crack. Mr. Mange must stay out because his skinniness is depressing; Hoover can’t come in because he sucks up all the food; it is only Brinquedo who I let slide through the crack with his smooth agile body and his eyes that dart with such cunning.

The two greet, inside cat and outside cat kiss noses. He rubs up against her with his tail up like a flag and she swats her nails at him when he gets by. “Here you are again,” she says, with all the haughtiness of one who is accustomed to getting what is wanted.

“I must,” he replies and purrs as he rubs himself up against my leg and throws himself belly-up on the deep-orange floor, his lion jaw taut with joy.

“All you outside cats want to come in,” she says, circling him with her dainty steps. Brinquedo springs up and bats at her striped tail. They run circles around the room, crashing into cupboard doors.

“Don’t you dare think we want what you have. I’m not envious of you at all, not even one little bit!” He leaps, defiant, onto the sink, Sofà‘s favorite spot.

“Then why are you here?”

“Because I can be, and that’s what you don’t understand.”

“I understand perfectly well! You are hungry, you are wet, and you are always getting beat up. You want my cushions, my bowl full of food and the loving strokes.”

“Oh, inside cats! You’re all the same!” Brinquedo leaps down and the chase ensues. “I will never want any of this,” he stands his ground. “Because all this means one must remain shut-up behind a door.”

There is a sudden movement, the footsteps of one of us people. Sofà stretches herself out in her usual luxurious manner as Brinquedo sits alert, his dark tail around his light feet like slippers. His yellow eyes are tuned to us with such intension, he is used to ducking off whenever people stir.

“This is what you don’t understand,” he begins, for even though they are both around the same age, he has acquired a hardened wiseness that comes with the freedom outside the doors. “That in the silence of the earliest morning hours, before even the starlings begin their maddening flights, when you have found your pace, all of the streets are yours.”

“Mine, this is mine!” she laughs, still a kitten. “What need have I of sky or tree?”

“You are filled with fear. Everyone can have this, this house, this food, this comfort,” he struts up to me just to prove it, entwining figure eights around my legs. “But not everyone can make out there their own.”

“I’m no scare-dy cat!” Sofà jumps out the front door just to prove it.

Brinquedo stays. His purr is awkward but it is still of joy, his eyes are closed as he stretches himself along the floor. In two minutes flat Sofà comes, as if her wits had just been taken out of her, hustling back in the door.

“I’m an inside cat,” she admits, with her own little secret twist of the tail.

“I’m an outside cat, so stop thinking I desire what you have.”

With each their limit set they run or stare at each other or sit staring out the door. Soon, Brinquedo Brincadeira is struck again by the notion to run off, he runs quickly down the old small streets, sticking near to the potted plants and the grey buildings; as Sofà Sofonisba climbs the ladder to the bed, she curls into warm blankets and in two seconds, is asleep.

Bracciano Italy
May 2008

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