Out on a Limb

by Laurie Ann Hunter

scaredy cat

Cindy awoke with a yawn and focused her round, blue eyes on the bedroom window. The sunlight was just starting to peek through the curtains. She stretched and thought, "Well, it's time to start my day!”

She leaped from the bed to the dresser and looked at herself in the mirror. "Ick, what a mess my hair is this morning!” she thought. She began her morning bath. First, she groomed her paws. Then, she carefully combed her long, white coat. When each hair was in place, she started on what she thought was her best feature.... her tail. Soon it was brushed to perfection and she turned again to the mirror. "I'm sooooooo pretty!” she squealed. She leapt off the dresser and back onto the bed.

"Waaaaaaaaakkkkeeeeee uppppppppp", she screamed into the ear of the sleeping girl whose name was Misty. Her morning greeting came out like this to human ears, "Meeeeeooooooowwwww!” "Go AWAY Cindy!” Misty mumbled. She rolled over and looked at her clock. "For goodness sakes, it's only 7 o'clock...and IT'S A SATURDAY!” she cried. When Cindy saw that Misty was completely awake she hopped off of the bed and headed to the boy's room to wake him too. She got the same response from him; only he also weakly threw a shoe at her. "How rude", she thought. "These children don't have ANY manners."

"Lalalalala", Cindy sang to herself as she continued her morning tasks. Kevin, the boy that she lived with, called her "Buzz" sometimes because of the noises that she made when singing to herself. Cindy thought that he just didn't have an ear for music.

She hopped up on the windowsill in the upstairs hall. "Heeellllooooo Saaam", she called down. The Golden Retriever in the next door neighbor's back yard answered her, "Heeellloooo Cindy! You look EXTRA pretty this morning!" "Thank you!" Cindy answered modestly. She fluffed out her tail and wrapped it around her feet. She knew that this was a good pose for her. "Why you are the best looking cat on this block, Cindy! No, YOU'RE the prettiest cat in this whole big town!" Sam barked happily. "My goodness, how nice you are!" Cindy called back. "Well, I have to go! I've got tons of things to do. It's a busy morning! See you tomorrow! Bye!"

Since Cindy didn't pass Buffy, her best friend and fellow housecat, in her upstairs visits, she headed downstairs. She ate some breakfast and then found Buffy sleeping on a windowsill. She stretched up as high as she could and popped Buffy on the ear.

"Owww, why did you do that?” Buffy exclaimed. "Just saying good morning!" Cindy replied with a grin. "Brat", Buffy said, hopping down from the windowsill. She yawned, and then stretched each leg, flexing her athletic muscles. "So, what shall we do today?” she asked. "I don't know about you but today is the day that I go outside!” Cindy said as she combed a stray hair with her paw.

Buffy froze. "You KNOW that we aren't ALLOWED outside BY OURSELVES, Cindy!" Buffy exclaimed. "There are all kinds of bad things that can happen to us! There are cars, dogs, fleas, lightning,” Buffy started to recite. "Hmmph", interrupted Cindy. "I don't even know what those things are! Besides WHO said we can't go outdoors alone?" "Kevin and Misty tell us all of the time", Buffy answered in frustration. "Don't you EVER listen? We CAN'T! We'll get in trouble!" "We'll see", Cindy replied as she strolled off to find a soft spot for a morning nap.

Cindy curled up on the sofa and drifted off to sleep. She dreamed of birds, trees and all of the things that she could only see from the window. How she longed to go outside and explore for herself the delights that she knew waited for her! It wasn't long before her opportunity presented itself. As Kevin left for his Little League game, he didn't shut the screen door completely. Cindy had positioned herself on the sofa so that she could watch for such a thing. She leapt down onto the carpet and raced across the room. "This is perfect!" she thought to herself. "No one is around and Miss Bossypants Buffy is asleep on her windowsill!" She tucked her paws under the screen door and pushed with all of her might! The door slid open just enough for her to slip outside. She heard the click of the latch as the door closed behind her. She hurried off of the back porch and down the steps. "It wouldn't do for someone to look out of the back door and see me!" she thought. "Then I'd not only have to go back inside but I'd be in trouble too!"

As she rounded the corner of the back porch, she slowed down. "Hey, there's the flower bed that I can see from the downstairs bedroom window!" she exclaimed while crawling over the bricks and into the flowerbed.

"Who said that?" demanded a tiny voice from underneath a palm leaf. "Who's asking?" said Cindy, peering under the leaf. She jumped back with a start when a tiny creature with big eyes hopped out onto the grass. "Don't you try to eat me, I don't taste very good, and I can kick really hard!" squeaked the little green fellow. "I'm not hungry; I already ate breakfast", Cindy said slightly offended. "Besides you don't look like anything that I would ever WANT to eat! What ARE you anyway?" she asked. "I'm a frog," he replied. "What are you?" he chirped. "Why, I'm a cat!" she said very surprised. "I would think that EVERYONE would know what a cat looks like".

"Where do you live?" Cindy asked curiously. "I live over there in that fish pond", the frog replied. "Where do YOU live?" Cindy replied, "I live in that big important house. I do very grownup things and I'm allowed outside by myself all of the time!" "Wow", said the frog. "I get in trouble if I go too far away from home all alone. You MUST be a grown-up!" "I am a grown-up", said Cindy with a toss of her head. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a lot of exploring to do before dinnertime. Bye!" "Okay, see ya!" answered the frog as it hopped away.

A flash of red caught Cindy's eye. She turned and saw a beautiful red flower. As she sniffed deeply of the rose, she thought, "Buffy would love being out here. She really likes flowers!" For a moment she felt a pang of guilt. She shook herself and said, "That's what she gets for being such a fraidy cat! She's missed out on all of this fun!" For the next hour, Cindy wandered around the backyard and played.

Before long she came to a tall gate. "I wonder what's up there?" she thought. She backed up and jumped as hard as she could....and slid down the front of the gate. "Rats", she thought. "I wish that I could jump like Buffy!" She got up and dusted herself off. "Now how am I going to get up there?" With a flash of inspiration she saw a bucket underneath a tree. She grabbed the handle in her mouth and dragged it over to the fence. She jumped on top of it and then easily jumped to the top of the gate. "Woooooooooww", she purred! "I can see the WHOLE neighborhood!"

She jumped off of the gate and landed in the front yard. "It's even better than the backyard", she exclaimed. "This is WONDERFUL", she sang happily to herself. She had just begun playing with a leaf when she heard a strange sound. It was a snorting, snuffling sort of sound. Curious, Cindy followed the noise. She peered around a tree and saw a huge animal!

It was the biggest dog that Cindy had ever seen! He was twice the size of Sam, the Golden Retriever next door! Cindy thought, "I'll wake him up and see if he thinks I'm as pretty as Sam does. Then Buffy will really be jealous!"

She picked up a stick and touched the dog lightly on the nose. "Excuse me sir, don't you think I'm the prettiest cat you've ever seen?" She dropped the stick, arched her back and fluffed her tail to show her best features. He twitched his nose but continued snoring. Sighing, she reached over and flicked his ear with the stick. "Yooo hooo, wake up and tell me I'm pretty!" she demanded. The dog stretched and rolled onto his side. His snores became louder. Frustrated, Cindy picked up the stick and threw it at him. "Hey, I'm talking to you!" she shouted.

Slowly the dog opened one eye...then the other. He turned his head towards Cindy and a low, rumbling sound came from his throat. "Uh, I'm sorry to wake you but I wanted to ask you a ...uh....question", Cindy stammered. Something about dog's behavior made her uncomfortable. "You see, the dog next door thinks I'm the prettiest cat he's ever seen...." her voice trailed off. The dog was slowly rising to his feet and drool was dripping from the corners of his jaws. The hair on his back was rising. Cindy began to back up and edge towards the gate. "Okay, well thanks but I guess I'll just be getting back", she babbled. She started to feel very afraid! She turned and began running just as the huge dog leapt! Terrified she ran across the front yard toward the gate!

"Oh no", she thought "The bucket is on the other side of the gate and it's much too high for me to jump!" She could feel the dog's hot breath on her back as they both ran. He was quickly gaining on her. She was so scared that she forgot to breathe. She only had one chance to get away! She closed her eyes and jumped with all of her might! Her front paws caught on the top of the gate. She felt a sharp pain as the dog grabbed her by the tail but she hung onto the gate and began kicking with her back feet. Her back claws raked across the dog's nose. The dog yelped in pain and let go of Cindy's tail. Crying and breathless, she dropped down into the back yard. She heard the terrifying sounds of the dog barking and as he tried to get through the fence. She ran as fast as she could to a tree and climbed up it until she was on its highest branch. "Mommyyyyyyyy", she sobbed. "Heeeeeeeeeellllpppp!” she cried with all of her might.

Buffy was sleeping peacefully on her windowsill when Cindy's cries woke her. Alarmed, she looked out of the window and saw Cindy in the tree. "Oh no", cried Buffy. What ARE you doing out there?" "A bbbig dddddog is trying to kkkkill me", wept Cindy. "You hhhave to gggooo get hhhelp!”

Buffy jumped down from the window and raced into the living room where Misty was watching the television. She thought quickly and then grabbed one of her toys from the toy box. She brought it over to Misty and dropped it in her lap. "Awww, how cute Buffy! Do you want to play?" Misty said. "Yesss" purred Buffy. "But come in here by the window and play with me." The girl heard, "Meow, mew meow", but thought that Buffy looked adorable dancing around with her furry mouse in her mouth. She came over to Buffy and reached down to pet her. Buffy quickly leapt upon the windowsill and called to Cindy, "Now, Cindy, now!" Cindy closed her eyes and screamed with all of her might. With a start, Misty ran to the window and looked out. "CINDY, HOW DID YOU GET OUT THERE?” she screamed. She raced outside to the tree but saw that the little cat was too high up to reach. She ran to the garage and got a ladder. Soon Cindy was safely in her arms and was carried indoors. Buffy ran to see her. "Are you okay? You could have been killed!" "I know", she sniffed. "I think that mean old dog got a piece of my tail!" She turned around in circles trying to see her tail. "I need a mirror." "Don't worry, just a small bit of fur is gone and it will soon grow back", Buffy smiled.

Later that night when both cats were tucked safely in bed they thought about their day. "Well, I guess you learned an important lesson today", Buffy said smugly. "What lesson?" Cindy demanded. "I had a great time!" "If that's true, then why were you calling for your Mommy to come and save you?" Buffy teased. "Well, I guess it was pretty awful," Cindy admitted. "I'm a princess and a princess should never be treated that badly!" "Oh, and thanks to you, we now have to wear these awful collars!" Buffy complained. "I don't mind, I think that red is one of my best colors!" Cindy replied with a grin. She drifted off to sleep, dreaming of purple velvet pillows and tiaras while Buffy purred.

The End

Copyright Laurie Ann Hunter 2009

The author lives in California, USA.

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