The Boy and the Cat

Once there was a cat and a boy.

The boy was the size of a boy.

The cat was the size of a house.

Some say the cat was too big. Others say the boy was too small. Though, in reality, they were just what they were—a boy and a cat, who lived where they lived—on a world not too far from our own, and did what they did. What they did?

They had adventures!

One day, Boy and Cat were galloping over the plains when Cat nicked his toe on a rock. They tumbled. Boy was unscathed. Cat was not. Cat had lost a claw and, from where it had popped off, a steady stream of black smoke plumed out.

Boy tried to find the claw but could not. He tried to stop the smoke, but it slipped through his fingers. He tried and tried and tried everything he could think of—panicking because, as he searched and tried, and the smoke left, Cat began to grow smaller. And smaller. And smaller. He grew so small that Boy could hold Cat in the palm of his hand, and then, finally, the smoke stopped. It hung in the sky over both of their heads, blocking out the blue day.

Boy began to cry, and it fell onto Cat’s small head—making Cat, small, dark, and wet, feel lost in a thunderstorm. Cat—who did not like being wet—poked Boy gently with one of his remaining claws. Boy looked down and saw Cat—so small now—curled up in his palm. Boy knew that crying would do no good, so he began to look for Cat’s missing claw. It was difficult in the darkness, but he found it. And with it, a new problem.

Cat’s old claw was bigger than Cat now was. Boy wanted to cry again. The dark cloud hung over them like spilled ink, following when they went this way or that. Boy wanted to ask Cat what to do, but Cat had grown too small to speak. Boy put the too-big claw into one pocket, placed too-small Cat onto his shoulder, and began to walk.

Boy was used to riding Cat, and he could see now how big the world was—and how small he felt in it without Cat to hold him up high. Wherever he walked, the dark cloud followed overhead. When he reached a tree in the middle of the plains, Boy had an idea. He climbed the tree to the very top, hoping to reach the dark cloud, so Cat could make himself big again. The higher Boy climbed, the higher the cloud rose—until he reached the top of the tree and realized his mistake.

Boy climbed back down and placed Cat in the grass beneath the tree. Back up he went—to the very top, and there the dark cloud hung. He stuck his hand into it—feeling that it was not as cold as he thought it would be. He tried to scoop it into his hands, to put pieces into his pocket, but when he pulled his hand away, the cloud would slither back and reform. Boy—who loved Cat very much and would do anything for him—stuck his head into the cloud and took a deep breath. He felt his lungs fill with the swirling darkness—then he turned, holding his breath, and made his way back down to the ground. He picked up Cat, placed his lips to Cat’s injured paw, and blew out the bit of cloud he’d held.

Cat grew. It was only a little. But he grew. Boy was delighted. He swung Cat around in circles until Cat pawed at his hands. Boy repeated the process again, and again, and again, up and down the tree as Cat grew bigger and bigger until Cat was big enough to lift Boy up to breathe in the last bit of cloud.

When all was again how it should be, Boy took Cat’s missing claw from his pocket, fit it into place, and off they went.

**

Thank you for reading! If you’d like to learn more about me and what I do, check out my personal website. To receive the months’ flash stories in your inbox plus updates on my other work, sign up for my newsletter.

This story was based on a picture my girlfriend drew of me and her cat:

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