The Thing in the Basement
by Gerri Leen
You can hear it, in the basement, behind the metal boxes that your human puts her outer-coverings in just when they start to smell good--when the boxes are done, she brings out her
things stinking of flowers or fruit. She's lucky you know the sound of her voice, because her
scent is all over the place.
You chirp to get her attention. A cat would understand the sound. "Alert! Something to
But no. Your human is frightfully stupid. She goes on loading the boxes and turns them
on. You hear the sound of water, but you can't see it. You'd splash in it if you could. Your kind
has played in water since cats first walked the earth. You're the original longhaired breed. Your
lineage was explained to you by your mother, who heard it from her mother, who heard it from
"She's a Turkish Angora," you've heard your human say when she's complimented on
your silky white fur or your bright green eyes. As if she had anything to do with them? She
thanks your admirers, nonetheless.
But the water perplexes you. You've whiled away more than a few moments down here
trying to find it, so tantalizing, but right now it's annoying you because it's masking the sound of
whatever's down here.
You're a mighty hunter. That's what your human tells you, as if you need confirmation
that you're skilled at catching vermin. Doesn't she realize this is why you stay with her? Why
any of your kind do? The first cat to move in with humans was a visionary who could recognize
an all-you-can-eat buffet in the granaries. A bunch of cats followed. And the rest is history.
Not that you have to eat vermin anymore. Not when there is wet food and dry food and
things she calls treats. But you could feed yourself if you had to. You don't need her.
Just like you don't need the cushy puff that conforms to your every move and that your
human has put in the sun so you can bask. That has nothing to do with your decision to stay.
You don't need soft things and you can bask on the floor just as easily as on the puff. Nothing
she gives you is needed: you stay with her because it's convenient.
She picks up the basket that holds her outer-coverings and says, "Do you want to play
with the bird?"
You could, of course, play with a bird outside--if she ever let you go outside. You don't
need this stupid toy, but you follow her back upstairs because it makes her feel good.
Some time later, you lie on the ground panting as she puts the bird toy away. It's just
possible you have a toy problem.
"We do this to keep in shape," your mother told you as she chased a red dot all over the
living room of the human who raised you until you were eight weeks old. "It's not fun at all," she
said as she careened into a wall.
Sure looked like she was having fun.