The human that enters is an older female, white haired and with somewhat wrinkled skin but standing as upright as any I’ve seen. She drops a lumpy-looking bag off to the side and then calls out. Sophia’s ears twitch but she does not move from her perch, instead talking back to her human.
“Over here, Gladys!” she says, and the human turns and sees her, bending slightly and beckoning with her hands, speaking words that will hopefully soon mean more to me than the babbling that they sound like. Sophia remains seated. “You have to come over to me today! Sorry.”
Her human straightens back up and puts her hands on her sides, her next words said with a tone of what I can only assume is amused disapproval. Nevertheless, she walks over to Sophia and scratches her on the head, which looks like it feels pretty good – I need to figure out how to get Chuck to do that more often. Sophia closes her eyes as her human speaks to her yet again. I duck my head away from the window and wait for her signal, and it’s not long before I hear Sophia’s voice again, a quieter sound than before but still perfectly audible to my ears.
“Okay, Cat? You there?”
“Yep, right here.”
“So, what Gladys said to me just now was ‘you’re being lazy today? Silly girl. Or maybe you see something outside?’ Thankfully she didn’t notice your big ol’ head peeking around the corner.”
I let this one slide in the name of new knowledge, repeating the sounds that I just heard in my head. “And what did she say before that?”
“She said ‘here, kitty kitty! I’m home!’ Kitty is like cat, but I’m pretty sure it’s more respectful. So for example, before you knew me, you should’ve called me kitty.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.””I’ll keep that in mind.”
Now that she mentions it, there were definitely some repeated sounds from Gladys before. Didn’t really notice them until Sophia pointed them out. Maybe I just need to pay closer attention.
“I’ll try to get Gladys to talk some more. It’s not too hard, she talks to me all the time, especially when I get her attention.”
We continue on like this for some time, me listening and her translating. She doesn’t move from the window, but by alternating between speaking at her human, rolling around, and clawing the surface upon which she lays, her human is continuously drawn over to her and says all manner of different things, mostly remonstrances. Later, while the human is watching a box called the Tee Vee (which upon my questioning, Sophia explains can somehow show images from elsewhere, though neither of us can decide upon how you would do this), Sophia doesn’t even have to annoy her, and she talks frequently using a wide variety of what Sophia calls ‘words,’ sometimes waving a hand at the mysterious box. An explanation for what I thought was hiccuping presents itself as well – apparently this noise is a sign that the human thinks something is funny, something which us cats don’t tend to express all that often. That’s not to say that we don’t find things funny, just that it isn’t as obvious. It’s a bit embarrassing to know that I’ve been a fairly frequent source of this laughter in my short time with the humans. Oh well.
In any case, once Gladys starts watching Tee Vee, and with my already established and growing library of words upon which to draw, it’s not long before I can correlate our speech with human speech, thereby translating it without Sophia’s assistance (though I’m sure even with my many talents a cat couldn’t speak it, and why would you want to? It seems a very ineffective way to communicate when compared to ours). This development shocks Sophia.
“It took me forever to understand what I know of the human language, and you say you’ve already picked it up?”
“What can I say, I’m a quick learner. Though my head kinda hurts.”
“You can jump all the way up my building, you tell me how you beat up some humans, and now this rapid mastery of their language. Where in the world did you come from?”
It doesn’t seem as though she really cares about a response, so of course I tell her.
“Well, I was born in the forest, but my mother wasn’t like me, aside from her fur and markings. I don’t know who my father was. Mother never really mentioned him, either, but I guess he’s where I got my talents from.”
“Huh. I can imagine. My father was there when I was young, but he never seemed to know what to do with me and my siblings. More often than not my mother would chase him away, especially when he tried to play with us.”
“Well, his ‘playing’ usually involved bludgeoning us with his paws and then running away as though he were the one scared, so I’m glad she did. I don’t think he meant any harm, but you couldn’t tell mother that. I can still hear her hisses.”
“I bet your mother chased your father off as well, especially if he was as crazy as you are.”
“This could very well be so, she was quite tough despite being what I guess you could call a ‘normal’ cat. I really must get going, though. I have a human as well, and she’s probably wondering where I am.” It is nighttime and, in truth, I want to return to Chuck to see how she’s doing. Hopefully it’s not often that she’s almost attacked by another human. She certainly didn’t seem prepared for it, so odds are it’s not a regular occurrence. Then again, she may just be a bit helplessly oblivious to her lack of protection. I can’t believe she stayed asleep with all the racket the intruder made.
“Well, goodbye then. Feel free to come visit me again sometime. It gets a little boring in here and you’re marginally more entertaining than those dopey pigeons.”
“I’ll see what I can – ” Oh my. It appears as though we (and by we, I mean Sophia) were not nearly quiet enough about our conversation. Here comes Gladys, and she’s definitely seen me this time. She doesn’t look happy. She doesn’t look angry either, but I don’t stay to see what her plans are. Sophia turns and stands as her human approaches.
“Sophia, you have an orange friend? How in the world did he get up here? I don’t even know if I can open that window to let him in… ugh, I really don’t want to call the fire department at this time of night.”
“Get out of here, Cat!” Sophia calls back to me.
She doesn’t have to tell me twice. I run along the ledge and jump to the next building over, making my way in the direction of Chuck’s place, carrying some more questions with me. Orange? Fire department? I store these terms away for future pondering.
( ©2017 Sean Dorsey )