Thursday, September 18, 2008

Snowball

"Confusticate and drat it all!" I slammed back from the computer, taut with frustration, and sat for a moment, staring at the monitor screen. It seemed to stare back with its enlarged print and enhanced, brightly colored cursor. Then, I sank my head into my hands. "I can't," I moaned. "I can't, can't, can't write!"

"What's the pur-roblem?" my cat, Snowball, inquired languorously. She sounded so relaxed!

I dug my fingers through my hair and groaned. "The problem is that there's nothing I can write about." Snowball made a low, rumbly sort of inquiring sound. I sat up and swiveled to look at her where she lay on the windowsill, ears perked, large, round, green eyes trained on me attentively. I sighed. "You're supposed to write what you know, right?"

"Yes."

"Well, everything I know - my real or everyday life, my dream life, my fantasy life," I choked on a sob and returned my head to my hands. "Even and especially my pain and despair and emptiness life -" Snowball growled. I ignored her and my ungrammatical construction. "Everything I know is Kit." Snowball sneezed.

She had never liked Kit, and had made no bones that she was satisfied that he and I had broken up. But, I was devastated by the breakup. I hadn't eaten, hadn't showered, hadn't gotten dressed for days. The only thing that kept me going was needing to take care of Snowball. Then, I had woken up this morning, well, actually, it had been almost 12:30, and looked listlessly at the large display digital clock which showed not only the time, but also the date and room temperature. With a shock, I realized that the deadline for the NFB Writers' Division contests was only four days away. I had to enter something, and fast! After washing and filling Snowball's food and water dishes and cleaning her litter box, I sat down listlessly at the computer. But, everything I started seemed too personal, too intense, too Kit.
Now I tried to explain this to Snowball. She rumbled thoughtfully. "Don't humans write about their most intimate ex-purr-iences in autobiographies, and memoirs, and those novels with the Fur-rench name?"

"Roman à clef? Yes. And, most first novels are largely autobiographical as well."

She sat up and began washing her paws. "So," she inquired again with a delicate redirection of emphasis, "what's the pur-roblem?"

"I find that sort of stuff distasteful enough to read, let alone to write."

"Writing about one's life and everyday ex-purr-ience, you mean?"

"Yes."

She began washing her face. I loved it when Snowball washed her face, and the top of her head. She was absorbed in this important business for several minutes. When she finished, she blinked. "Is everything in your life distasteful?"

It was my turn to blink. "Well, no, I suppose not. But..."

"Is everything in your life too intensely purr-sonal to talk about?" she pursued, stretching her front paws.

"Well, no; but..." I stared at her. She stared back, sublimely unconcerned. She yawned.

"Is there anything, or purr-haps anybody in your life that is noteworthy?" she asked with a fine show of indifference.

I began to grin. And, as the grin grew broader, I felt the despondency and writer's block disperse, like a thick fog stirred by a breeze. I still missed Kit something awful but, for now at least, I had something to do. Of course! It was so simple. "I'll write about you," I said, leaning forward to rub Snowball's head. "I'll be sure to win First Prize in the Fiction division."

I laughed, the first time in days, in weeks, I'd laughed as she reared up, the image of a lion rampant. "What do you mean the Fiction division?" she demanded in a low growl.

I smoothed the ruffled fur on her back. "Well, after all," I said. "No one would accept a story about a talking cat as nonfiction."

Snowball growled. Ignoring her, I stood up. "Man, I'm hungry! I'm going to have a nice, big breakfast, or brunch, or whatever and then, thanks to you, Snowball, I can get to work."

Jumping down, she followed me into the kitchen. I poured her a saucer of milk as a special treat, and then bustled about distractedly. I only just avoided putting the Canadian bacon in the toaster and the frozen French toast in the microwave in my excitement.

"What should I call the story?" I mused while setting the table. "Something snappy. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof? Na, that's been used. Hmm. The Cat Who Came In From The Cold? Long Cat's Journey Into Night?"

Snowball jumped onto my chair and sniffed at my plate as I set it down. "Are you going to drown that in maple surr-up?" she asked disapprovingly, pointing at the Canadian bacon with her nose.

"Yep." Picking her up, I moved her to the other chair. Then, I sat down and began extravagantly buttering the French toast. "How about All'sS Cat That Ends Cat?" Snowball sneezed. I looked up in concern. "Are you getting a cold, Kitty?"

"No," she said testily. Climbing up, she sat on the far edge of the table and glared at me. I could tell she was glaring because her eyes had changed from green to yellow. I watched her warily. If they turned orange, I was really in trouble.

"I think," she said, "and since I'm the subject of this so-called 'story' my opinion ought to be taken into consideration - I think you should call it Snowball The Wonder Cat."

I choked on a bite of French toast. "W-wonder cat?"

She crossed her paws in front of her chest and glared still more intensely, orange eyes glowing. "Wonder Cat," she repeated grimly. "After all, how many talking cats do you know?"