short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Tale of Fuzz

Once upon a time in the wooded mountains of California, not all that far from the ocean, but far enough not to know that it existed, there was born a little kitten. He had beautiful markings but never knew because he had no family to admire him. His hair was long and curly, and he had a very bushy tail. He looked like a ball of fuzz, but he did not know because he had no family to tell him.

One day, when he was only a few weeks old and alone except for the remains of his mother, who had become a meal for a hungry coyote, he ventured forth in search of safer lands and in search of food and water for he was, indeed, hungry and thirsty.

Before very long he reached a river in the woods, a deep, cool river, and he drank from it thirstily. Near the river, he saw a quaint little cabin, and through the window he saw two children looking at a box that showed stories. The girl was beautiful, with gentle blonde curls and crayon-colored blue eyes. She said something to the boy, also blond, with lighter blue eyes, and he went out and came back with a glass of milk for his sister. The girl’s legs were covered in metal, and they did not move like the boy’s legs did. Her eyes were bright but sad, and she spoke quietly with her brother. Before them was a small table, and on the table was a sandwich. “Meat!” said the kitten to himself. “For this, I have ventured forth.”

And he went up to the door and made a loud noise, but there was no response. He had only to wait until someone wanted to come in or out, he thought, and so he lay down and went to sleep.

Three hours passed, and a roly-poly man walked up to the door. He looked a lot like the little boy. He called out that he was home from work, and a lady opened the door from the inside. The boy came running, and the girl looked up in anticipation.

Just then, the man looked down beside the doorstep and saw the sleeping kitten. “Well, look here,” he said. “We have a little fuzz ball here.” With that, he picked up the kitten and brought him into the house.

The boy and the lady admired him. They said that he had beautiful markings. They said his bushy tail was the most beautiful tail they had ever seen. They ran their hands over his curly hair, and that made him feel warm. He heard a low, pleasant sound coming from deep in his throat.

The boy carried him to his sister. “Pet him,” he said. “He purrs.”

“He must be hungry,” said the sister, and she gave him a piece of the meat from her sandwich. The kitten ate it greedily, and the boy disappeared for a few minutes, returning with more meat, which the kitten consumed just as greedily.

“Let’s call him Fuzzy,” said the roly-poly man.

“Good name!” the others chimed in, and the kitten understood that he now was to be addressed as Fuzzy.

The lady brought a bowl of water, and Fuzzy drank from it. It was not as good as the water in the river, but he knew that he could go to the river whenever he wanted to take a drink.

That night, Fuzzy slept on the bed of the little girl. “She is beautiful,” he thought. “She is friendly. They are all friendly. They are now my family. For this, indeed, I have ventured forth from my dead mother and the Land of the Coyotes.”

Every day, the boy and the girl gave Fuzzy meat to eat, and the lady opened the door so that Fuzzy could go to the river to drink. He always went to drink, sat and watched the birds but did not chase them for he was not hungry, and returned home, happy that he had found a family.

And it came to pass that one day Fuzzy again went out from the home to sip from the river for he was thirsty and the river ran deep, clear, and cold. He sat and watched the birds fly high and higher. “Where do they go?” he wondered, and he climbed a tall tree by the river. He could see far from the tree, far through to a long, dirt path through the woods, along which moved creatures he had never before seen.

He slipped down the tree and went to meet the new creatures. As he drew close, he saw that they were not creatures like any he had known. They moved. They made noise that even sounded like very loud purring, but they were not soft. They were great creatures, covered in metal, and their paws were round and rolled, making crunching sounds on the gravel. He walked up to one to introduce himself, but it did not stop or even look at him. One of its paws rolled over him and trapped his tail. He pulled away hard. He was caught! He pulled harder. Ouch! The pain was great, but, at last, he was free.

He was free, but he could not walk very well, and there was something very wrong with his tail. He walked aimlessly in pain, not able to find his way back to the cabin in the woods. At long last, he found the river, and he lay down in the grass beside it.

When day dawned, he crawled to the river for a drink. He felt very weak, and he could not move his tail, not even little enough to see what it looked like or why it hurt so much. He looked down into the river, and there he saw what had happened to his tail. It was thin and flat. The part near his body had no hair; the monster thing that had run over him had partially stripped his tail, leaving only white cord and blood near his body, and the remnants of the skin and hair dragged behind him like an anchor. Despondent, he could not look at it again. He lay down and went to sleep.

Time passed. Old day turned into new day. Dawn, night, dawn, night. And so he continued for ten days. He thought about his family; he dreamed about his family. But he could not move, except to take a drink from the river when he was thirsty. He was hungry, too, and there were many small creatures—mice and birds—but he could not catch them. It required many minutes for him to take the few steps to the river and back to his grassy bed. He held on, though, thinking of the cabin in the woods and the family that loved him. He had to make it back to them. He had to see them again. He could take any amount of pain if he could just see them again.

And so, one day, when the dawn arose, he stood, tottering and weak, on his legs and partially crawled and partially clawed his way up the river, looking for the cabin which could not be that far away. For three days and three nights, he inched his way home. On the fourth day, he saw it: the cabin, the children, the lady, and the roly-poly man—and a dish of food outside the door. They must have left it for him.

He inched his way toward the food as they returned inside the cabin, not knowing that he was only a few feet away, hidden by the tall river grass. Food! He reached it, and he began to devour it ravenously. He was hungry!

A few minutes passed, and the little boy looked out the window. “Mom! Dad!” he called out with joy. “Fuzzy’s home!”

Fuzzy felt safe again, and his heart leapt with joy. Then he thought of his tail. He had lost his big, bushy tail that they all admired. He was not as fuzzy as he used to be. Would they still want him? He cowered by the bowl of food, ready to crawl back to the river in shame if they no longer liked him. After all, who could like a cat with a defective tail?

They burst out the door, the little boy in the lead, then the lady, and the roly-poly man. The little girl with the blonde curls and crayon-blue eyes watched from the window with a sad look. “She sees I have no tail,” thought Fuzzy. And he was right.

“His tail is gone!” said the lady. “His beautiful tail is gone!” Fuzzy prepared to leave. “Poor baby!” She picked him up.

“He has to go to the vet,” said the roly-poly man. “Let’s see what the vet can do.”

The lady put Fuzzy in a big cage with a handle on it, and the roly-poly man picked him up and put him inside one of those great creatures that had tried to eat him. Fuzzy closed his eyes and hoped everything would go away.

“I am coming with you,” said the little boy, and he climbed inside the monster creature and sat beside Fuzzy.

The roly-poly man got in, too. He sat in the front, touched something on the monster’s neck, making it purr loudly, and kept moving the monster’s nose in one direction or another. Slowly, Fuzzy understood that they were moving. They were inside the monster, and the monster was moving, taking them with it. He began to cry. The little boy put his hand inside the cage and petted him. He began to feel unafraid.

After some minutes, they arrived at a big cabin. The woods were gone. There was no river, just many very big cabins, made not of wood but concrete and bricks and cinder. The roly-poly man opened up the monster creature and stepped outside. Then he reached for Fuzzy and carried him into the big cabin.

In the big cabin lay great treasures of silver. A certain tall man in a white coat entered, looked at him, said something incomprehensible to the roly-poly man, then picked up one of the long, narrow treasures and thrust it deep into Fuzzy. Fuzzy felt no pain, just a curious sensation of falling asleep.

When he woke up, Fuzzy had no tail at all! He was still in the room of treasures, and the tall man in white came over and looked at him. Then, he wrote something on a chart, picked up the phone, and talked into it. Some minutes later, the roly-poly man and the little boy appeared in the room of treasures. They put Fuzzy back into the cage, climbed back inside the monster creature, and arrived back at the cabin in the woods.

For a while, Fuzzy felt tired. He looked for his tail but could not find it. Yet, sometimes he thought he could feel it. After a few days, he felt much better. He began to play with the little boy and the little girl again. They fed him, and he entertained them. He showed them that he did not mind life without a tail, that he could be friendly and affectionate and playful with or without his tail. And they loved him just the way he was. They could all have lived happily ever after.

One day, however, when Fuzzy went out a little earlier than usual to partake of water from the river, the sun was not yet up. There, in the grass, where Fuzzy usually rested, crouched a coyote.

Fuzzy did not return home that day nor ten days later nor ever, but Fuzzy’s memory lived long thereafter. The family mourned but realized that Fuzzy had taught them important things. And one day, when the dawn rose, the young girl, who had no moving legs but only braces, got up and went out of the home to sip from the river.

This story appeared in the same collection as the story below. Copyright 2005. I have used it in undergraduate philosophy classes. It is interesting to me to see student reaction -- whether they considered the story optimistic or pessimistic. One foreign student, a non-native speaker of English, told me that she considered it a horror story; she misinterpreted the ending tome that the girl would also be eaten by the coyote! Amazing. Once a work leaves an author's hands, all kinds of interpretations are made. Faulkner once said that he had not realized how much symbolism he had put into "The Bear" until he read the critics' reviews!

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About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.