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|How Skycat Got Her Wings
|Creators: Non-Member Artist (Writer), Ellen Million (Illustration), Non-Member Author(s)|
|Long ago, in the beginning of time, all the animals lived together, but Skycat was just a regular land cat then, and had not yet learned to glide through the trees.|
|Posted: 06/11/12 [1 Comment]
~ 1689 words.|
Long ago, in the beginning of time, all the animals lived together - but Skycat was just Cat then, and had not yet learned to glide through the trees. She was plump and happy, and didn't think that life could be any better than it was for her then.
One day she was lying on her back in the sun, warming her belly. Her children were all grown up, but they still brought her food from time to time, so she hardly had to do any work. The sun was warm, and she didn't know anything better than taking a nap and soaking it up.
But eventually the sun moved, as it always does, and the light changed so that Cat was in a shadow. She woke up and began to bathe herself, like usual, because she always wanted to look her best. But then she discovered that the mosquitoes had been to visit her while she was asleep and had bitten her all up and down her sides! The bites were red and swollen and they itched very badly. Cat licked hard at the spots where the bites were, but her rough tongue couldn't get through the fur to scratch. She bit at the itchy spots, but it didn't help very much. She thought about scratching with her back legs, but the skin was so tender there that her claws, which were nice and sharp for catching her dinner, would just tear right through it.
She got up and turned in a circle and lay down again, sniffing unhappily. Her sides itched so much and she couldn't scratch them without hurting herself. A few mosquitoes buzzed by and she tried to catch them, but they were too small and fast for her. Anyway, she knew that eating a mosquito wouldn't make her itching stop.
She stood up and walked over to a tree. Then she rubbed her side against the tree. The rough bark helped, and soon she felt better. But every time she switched sides to scratch the one she had missed, the other side began to itch again even worse.
She was sure there must be some way to make her itching end forever. If only she could figure out how! As she rubbed her side against a tree and looked around at the swamp, an idea came to her. She gritted her teeth and walked over to the pond, then lay down there with her chin on her paws, looking sad. She had to wait for several minutes and the itching nearly drove her crazy, but eventually Alligator came over and looked at her with bulging eyes, just as Cat had known she would.
"Oh, Alligator," said Cat. "You are so beautiful, with your lumpy green skin and your sharp white teeth. You must have children with beautiful skin and sharp teeth like you have."
Alligator was very surprised by this, but she was also flattered, so she came a little closer to Cat, rising up out of the water. "It is true," she said. "My children have very beautiful teeth."
Cat gave a mournful sigh. "If only I could say the same." It went against her nature to pretend that her children did not have beautiful teeth - in fact, she knew without a doubt that her children's teeth were the most beautiful in the swamp - but if she wanted Alligator's help, she would have to make her feel very good.
"Why, Cat," said Alligator, surprised, "what is wrong with your children? Do they not have sharp, white teeth for catching their dinner?"
"They do," said Cat, very proudly, before remembering her purpose. She sighed again. "But they have all left me. They are all grown up now and they don't need their mother any more."
Alligator nodded as though she understood. "That is very sad. Maybe you should have some more babies."
Cat shook her head. "No new babies would ever be as wonderful as the ones who left me. I think I am doomed to be sad forever."
"I'm very sorry to hear that," said Alligator. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
This was the opening Cat had been waiting for, but she had to make sure Alligator didn't know that. "Oh, I couldn't ask you for help. You have your pond here. You shouldn't even be taking the time to talk to me."
"I have plenty of time to talk to you," Alligator insisted. "Please, Cat, tell me. I love to help my neighbors."
"Well, if you insist." Cat got to her feet, slowly, as though her legs hurt, though it was really because she wanted to avoid twitching the skin where the mosquito bites were. They itched worse than ever. She stood with her side facing Alligator and hung her head low as she said, "Won't you eat me, Alligator? I have nothing else to live for. I would be happier if I could be filling my friend's belly."
Cat was not looking directly at Alligator, so Alligator did not know that Cat could see her lick her chops. "Are you sure about that?" Alligator asked. "Most animals try very hard to avoid letting me eat them."
Cat sighed again. "If it's not too much trouble. Maybe I should ask Eagle instead."
"Oh, no," said Alligator quickly. "I mean, I am happy to help." She slithered up on the shore. Cat held very still. She pretended to shut her eyes but really left them open a little bit. Alligator opened her mouth wide and chomped down on Cat's side.
This was exactly what Cat wanted. She jumped away just as the teeth closed on her. It felt wonderful on her mosquito bites. But Alligator's jaw was much stronger than Cat had thought! She couldn't get away! "Yow, ow, ow!" she cried as she pulled and tugged and finally escaped from Alligator's teeth to tumble down on the ground. Now the skin on her side was all stretched out like a flap. Cat looked at it sadly and thought that she wasn't nearly as beautiful anymore. But the mosquito bites had stopped itching.
The bites on her other side, however, itched worse than ever, so much that she wanted to run around in circles. She crawled back to the very surprised Alligator, keeping her belly low. "I'm sorry, my friend," Cat said. "My instincts must have taken over. I didn't mean to run away from you. Won't you try again?" This time she presented her other side to Alligator.
Alligator was very surprised, but she didn't argue any more. She must have been hungry by this point. She just closed her jaws on Cat's side, and once again Cat jumped away. But this time she jumped harder, so that she would escape faster. However, she jumped too hard. She jumped so hard that she jumped right up to the top of a tree!
"I'm sorry, Alligator," she shouted down. "Maybe I don't want to be eaten after all. Thank you for your help."
At least her side wasn't itching anymore. She looked at it and saw that it, too, was stretched out. She sat down on the tree branch and had a bath, washing herself all over. While she was doing that, she tried to think. She couldn't go back down, because Alligator was not impressed by her apology, and was still lying down there waiting to eat her. Anyway, she didn't know how to go back down. If she tried to climb with her claws, she would probably get them all dull, and she would certainly fall and hurt herself. Then she would be even less beautiful than she was now with her skin all stretched out.
She finished her bath with no new ideas. At least the fur on her stretched-out skin didn't look so bad any more. And, even though she was in a tree, she did not feel that she had made a bad choice, because her mosquito bites still didn't itch at all.
Then Kingfisher flew up and landed in a tree next to the one Cat was sitting in. He laughed at her loudly. "Look at you, Cat, up in the top of a tree!" he cried. "That's not where cats go. And what is wrong with your sides? You look quite ugly, Cat."
At first poor Cat tried to ignore him. He was just a mean bird, and she was still trying to figure out how to get down. But he kept mocking her, and she knew her sides were ugly, but she didn't want anyone else to tell her that. Finally she got so angry she couldn't think any more. She just bunched up her legs behind her and pounced on Kingfisher.
That is, she tried to pounce on him. They were both very surprised when she soared up and over him, and past him, and past him even further, until she landed on a tree branch very far away. She held on to the tree branch for dear life and looked for Kingfisher. She could barely see him until he flew closer - but not too close.
"Cats don't have wings!" he called, even louder than usual. "How can you fly across the trees? You must not be a cat anymore!"
Kingfisher's shouting attracted a lot of other people, including Cat's children, who had not in the least abandoned their mother. They stared up at her from the bottom of the tree. She felt quite embarrassed until one of them said, "You're not a cat anymore, Mama! You're a skcyat!"
Cat bathed her sides some more and realized her child was right. "That's right, Kingfisher," she said. "I'm Skycat now. And I'm a better hunter than you!"
At that, Skycat leapt out of the tree again. The flaps of skin on her sides caught the air and helped her glide. She landed right on Kingfisher's branch and ate him all up in one gulp.
Forever after that, she was called Skycat, instead of just Cat. And she tried not to get too close to Alligator for a long time.