I had come down the stairs and was strolling into the kitchen where I found Rapi, my best friend, who also happened to be a slightly overweight orange cat, and by slightly, I really mean you can slightly see his legs sticking out from under his large belly when he walks. Anyway, my friend was sitting at the big glass doors, his gaze seemed distant, though he was looking directly into our fenced in back yard.
It was a typical late autumn morning, the kind with a grey overcast sky, which would come to dominate the next few months. Gone were the beautiful birdsong that we loved to listen to during the late spring and throughout the summer, and in its place, we had the lovely hum of the furnace blowing heat through the vents. It’s okay that it may not be as romantic, but still there is something to be said about a comforting warmth that keeps the cold at bay.
Daddy had just sat down at the table with his foaming raspberry white chocolate latte and a book by his favorite author. All the signs were there for a boring Sunday morning, so I plopped down next to Rapi on the carpet that Mommy has laid out for us in front of the door and stared out into the backyard, trying as hard as I can to figure out what he is looking at, but all I see is my reflection. I move my head to left and the big brown dog with floppy ears and a white patch on her chest looks back at me and does the same. Just once, I wonder what would happen if my image did something different. I tremble at the thought.
“Birdie,” Rapi whispers to me, his eyes have focused on a cardinal who had just fluttered down from the leaden sky and landed on one of the fence posts. As if he heard us, the bird cocked his head in our direction and tweets.
I feel a need to tell Rapi what I am thinking but decide against it. I really don’t want to disturb our friend Mr. Cardinal and make him fly away, instead, I just want to admire how beautiful his scarlet red feathers look against the backdrop of the murky sky and the dull browns of the dead grass and bare tree limbs.
“Pretty,” the orange cat whispers hoarsely, his lips have begun to curl into a smile. Our visitor has brought a ray of sunshine into an otherwise dull day.
Some movement in the peripheral of Rapi’s vison has caught his attention, making the cat snap his head to the left. The sudden movement has spooked the cardinal, who has leapt from his perch and soared off into the dreary sky.
“Oh,” the orange cat groans, upset that his inability to control his reflexes has cost him this moment.
“It’s okay, it was nice while it lasted,” I reassured him.
“It was,” he agrees.
He begins to survey the back yard again, looking for something new to catch his attention. Rapi freezes in place and his eyes grow wide. I turn to look out the glass doors, curious to find out what he is seeing. I gasp and my mouth drops open.
“Snow,” the orange cat squeaked in uncontrollable excitement.
My own eyes zoom in on a big fluffy white flake that has just fallen from heaven. It slowly floats downward, first drifting to the left, then flip flopping, before shifting course to the right until out of nowhere another frozen crystal came up beside it. Like a tango the two snowflakes danced across the sky in passionate promenades, twists and dips, until at last, they gently touched down on the ground and melted away, fading into nothing more than a glorious memory.
Our heads swooned along with the flakes, who continued their intricate movements to the ground, where slowly they began to form a thin layer of white carpeting.
The orange cat watched with a rapt dreamlike expression on his face, then blew out a lung full of stale air. This wasn’t just your normal run of the mill exhale, this was the breath of a depressed cat. I wanted to say something but hesitated for a minute. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because his facial expression didn’t match the sigh, or maybe I was afraid I might say something I shouldn’t say.
“What’s wrong Rapi,” I finally brought myself to ask.
“Nothing important,” the cat answered in his best fake happy voice.
“You sure, because you look like something is bothering you,” I pressed a little harder this time.
He returned his gaze to the back yard and the gentle snowfall, choosing to sit in silence. I had just about given up when he turned to look at me again.
“All my life, I have dreamed about being outside during the snow,” he said, his eyes a little glassy.
“It’s stupid, I know,” he added.
“No Rapi, it is not stupid. It is a perfect dream to have,” I reassured him.
Without a word I rose to my feet and looked over at Daddy who was still reading his book.
“I wanna go out,” I barked at him.
Nothing. No big surprise there.
“Hey Daddy! I wanna go out!”
“Really Cindee?, We just got back from your walk and you want to go out again,” he asked.
I could tell he was exasperated. He didn’t say it or do anything, but I can tell these things just by the way he is breathing, and his breathing was saying he was agitated. I mean, I get it. Like he said, we did just get back, but this was important.
“I need to go out … now!” I couldn’t help it I just felt the need to add the now for emphasis to light a fire under his butt.
“What are you doing Cindee,” Rapi asked, his expression just as puzzled as Daddy’s.
“Okay, you win,” Daddy answered with a smile.
He put the book down and grabbed hold of the leash, but I dodged out of the way before he had a chance to click it on me.
“Do you want to go out or no,” he asked, the exasperation was now in his voice too.
I had to move quickly before he changed his mind. He is like that you know. I raced into the living room and snagged Rapi’s harness, before dashing back into the kitchen and dropping it at Daddy’s feet.
“You want Rapi to come with you? What if he doesn’t want to go,” Daddy asked.
I glanced over at Rapi.
“This is a chance for a dream to come true,” I barked at him.
The cat jumped to his feet and began to rub against Daddy’s leg.
“Oi vay,” the old man grumbled.
The glass door slid open allowing Daddy and I to step through it. For some reason though, Rapi didn’t follow along, rather he chose instead to sit at the precipice.
“Are you coming buddy,” Daddy asked playfully, trying to coax the big orange cat to take that final step out of the house.
“C’mon Rapi,” I urged him on.
He just stood frozen in the doorway, his eyes staring straight ahead. Confused, I trotted back to the door and stood in front of him.
“What’s going on Rapi?” I asked quietly.
“I am scared,” he whispered back.
“There is nothing to be afraid of,” I said, using my best re-assuring voice.
It wasn’t enough to get him to take the step, but it was sufficient to get him to loosen his gaze and look at me. His ears had curled back giving him a slightly panicked look.
“Does it hurt,” he asked.
“Does what hurt?”
“The snow, does it hurt when it hits you,” his voice was tense with emotion.
I tried my best but couldn’t stop myself from giggling. He shot me a pained look.
“I am sorry, I shouldn’t have laughed,” I apologized.
“It doesn’t hurt at all. Do you think a dog like me who is afraid of her own shadow would love the snow if it hurt” I said, trying to reason with him.
“I guess not,” he managed a small smile.
“Last chance or you will have to stay in,” Daddy warned Rapi.
“Let’s go. I will stand right here beside you,” I said, leaning down to give him a gentle head butt.
“Okay,” he whispered, then took in a deep breath.
He lifted one paw and stuck it outside the door, letting it drop onto the wooden deck, then hesitated for a moment. Once he was sure it was safe a second, then third and finally fourth paw followed, until he found himself standing outside.
The cat looked up and saw a snowflake gently drifting down with a shimmy to the left and a wobble to the right. It got caught up in a gentle breeze then ever so slowly fluttered down until it landed lightly on the tip of his nose. The cat let out a heartly laugh.
“It kind of tickles doesn’t it,” he cried out in joy.
We would stand on the deck a few moments more. I am not sure who had more fun, the cat experiencing his first time in the snow, or his best friend who watched on as he laughed and danced and lived in a world of wonder that he thought he would never experience.
The rest of the day was spent listening to Rapi regale Yehudi and Bella, his two cat roommates, with his adventures outside in the snow until at long last, all of us laid down in front of the fire place that evening and drifted off into a cozy, comfortable late autumn slumber.
As my own eyes closed and the world around me faded away and my dreams began to creep to life, I couldn’t help but think what a wonderful world we live in where sometimes, dreams really do come true!