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Purple Cat
by KJ Hannah Greenberg




I loved her as was natural for anyone in a similar relationship. After all, we two were homologous, were similar in origin, if not in kind. My only regret was that I nearly messed up her surprise party.


Purple Cat was about to turn ten. Ten is an important birthday. It’s the first of a lifetime of double digits. I had to mark that event, somehow. I almost chose wrongly.


Cat’s sister and I plotted. Cat’s mom emailed menus to me. I reminded her mom that Purple Car hated hummus and that Cat’s granny had promised to make baked chicken salad and a luscious chocolate cake.


My main jobs were inviting guests, which meant our entire class, and distracted Cat during the hour between the end of school and the party. Sally Marie almost ruined everything when she whispered, far too loudly, in the same part of the playground in which Cat and I were playing Fivestones, that Naomi Tabatha was sick and might not be able to make the party.


Fortunately, Cat was so invested in picking up leftover jacks and in saying “horses before carriages” loudly enough for her words to count, that she missed that revealing remark. Not only did she not hear the spoiler, but she also won that game. Truth be told, I never mastered double bounces.


Anyway, despite my pulling on Cat to engage with me in window shopping, we got to her house too early. I couldn’t help it that I found hardware stores and shoe emporiums interesting and that she didn’t.


A perfect afternoon, to Cat, was curling up, after finishing all homework, of course, with a library book, and a cup of ginger & mint tea. Her having me perched with my own reading, on the spare bed in her room, enhanced her experience. We were great friends who engaged in all sorts of fun together. We just didn’t talk much.


“Suddenly,” I “remembered” that I had “forgotten” my umbrella at school. Reluctantly, Purple Cat trudged the long blocks back with me. When we arrived, the building was locked. I’ll never forget the look that she gave me.


When, at last, we returned to her home, we were sufficiently late. Cat opened the door. The greater portion of our homeroom, her sisters, her mom, and her granny all shouted “surprise.”


Much eating and singing later, the last of the guests were picked up by their parents. Cat and I went to her room; Mom had already given permission for me to sleep over. Mom had also supplied the party’s quickly consumed tower of rainbow sprinkle cupcakes.


First, Cat and I threw pillows at each other. A little while later, we completed our homework. After preparing for bed, we snuggled under our respective blankets and opened our library books.


As I fell asleep, glasses still on my nose and library book opened to somewhere in the middle of a story, I thought about the idea that had been proposed by Cat’s younger sister. Brenda had wanted to hide Cat’s boots so that Cat couldn’t leave the house to go to school. Their mom had nixed that idea, though, since Cat had to be away from home for the party to be a surprise and since “good girls” didn’t randomly cut class.


Regardless, Purple Cat’s happy celebration took place decades ago. Both Purple Cat and I married, raised families, and enjoyed grandchildren. My husband died first, then hers. It was her idea that she should become my roommate.


My grandkids loved her. Whereas my knees were wonky due to problems I had with the arches in my feet, she was still able to get down on the floor and play with them.


What’s more, even after I conceded defeat to those rare, purple-eyed, silicon-based Komodo dragons, and even after I elected, instead, to seek out blue carbohydras, Cat carefully documented my adventures. She posited that my publisher needed a record of how I teleported from the safety of my doubts to the nether regions of my mind's eye.


These days, I am without my beloved Purple Cat. The nurses on my floor are adamant that I stop “fabricating” my life. They tell me that I: am on the ward as a charity case, never married, never had children, and never had grandchildren.


I was a waitress, not a writer, they claim. I grew up in a lower class neighborhood, where twin beds and cake-filled birthday parties were the stuff of imagination. Further, according to them, in elementary school, I never had access to a library.


Most days, I regard those uniformed wardens as filled with gilded, cockamamie, foo-foo. Other days, I’m grateful that they’re present to fluff my covers, refill my IVs, and open my blinds enough to let the sun in.


It would be really sad if they were right that I had not lived a life of letters, or, that if earlier, I had not had a best friend named “Purple Cat.” I’ll have to consult with the scented geraniums, with which my younger daughter generously gifted me. Those flowers speak the truth.




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