Tommie's Cat

Written by Louise Jones

An amused storm swirls around Vienna’s cobbled streets; newspapers blown across the turbulent canals and across park benches by venomous winds. Cats pelt into open doorways like hailstones, shooed back out with little haste or enthusiasm. They have been a problem on these streets for so long. No one has the heart to tell them that they are mere cats and, in fact, not overlords after all. Most are a blur of black and ginger, though some a mottled hybrid of miscellaneous tabby. A few lie on bridges and branches, too old and official (I like this) to move out of the lashing storm.

One undistinguishable tabby sits inside a warm family home, seemingly feeling smug to be able to do so lawfully – he is no stray chancer. He is well loved by a caring couple and their child. They are not his owners. This is a cat that will eat, sleep and answer only to Tommie. The pair have grown up together and now the green-eyed feline could imagine no other life than by little Tommie’s side. All of his secrets and the tales of school and friendships are locked in his emerald eyes. He would never betray Tommie’s confidence. It’s a duty. An honour.

Many say that the boy raised the cat to be soft, comfortable and playful - forever a kitten. More accurate would be to say the animal’s inner kitten kept Tommie as a child for longer. One day - a time in heavy contrast with today’s - battery of weather, Tommie built a den in the sunny garden and stayed snuggled with his cat until nightfall and far on into the next day. The cat was proud; it was as loyal as a dog then and still now.

Each day Tommie would leave for school, his curled and snoozing tabby suddenly wide awake and alert to see him off safely into the world. Until his evening return, it would happily sit on the window ledge and wait for his return, even if the autumn mist makes swirls on the glass to restrict all outside viewing. He knew Tommie would always come back with the stories of the day – teachers falling from chairs, cracked chalk and burst basketballs in the gym. His parents begged for their son to make human companions, which confused his cat. Tommie needed no one else to look out for him.

Now in the thunderous autumn that has once again covered the window in moisture, the cat waits. It is a school day and he is anxious for Tommie to come home. Tommie died in a car crash at the age of seven, just shy of five years ago on his way home from school. He will wait for Tommie. He knows Tommie always comes home.