General Fiction posted November 22, 2017


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Things we decide with strength

It Must Have Happened In April

by mmonaghan777


“This year I am going to Kite Flying Day,” Iris announced from her bed in her room. “When exactly is it this year mother?”

“It is the third weekend in May, Iris,” her mother responded.

“I am you know,” speaking a little louder.

“I know,” answered her mother.

Cherry Blossom, Iris’ ginger cat with blue eyes, looked over at her and rolled his eyes. He had a quick temper for anyone who may upset or hurt Iris in any way.

“I am!” she whispered very firmly to Cherry Blossom.

Dena, Iris’ best friend, came over almost every day if not before school then after. April was their favorite month of the year.
Iris was homeschooled. She spent a lot of time in her room because that’s where the machine was. But often she was able to get into her wheelchair and move about the house. She had really strong arms and always insisted on rolling herself around. That’s why she was adamant about going to Kite Flying Day.

“When Dena comes today I’m going to tell her too. She’ll help me,” Iris shouted after her mother as she went past Iris’ door and down the hallway.

Dena came after school walking right into the house and going straight to Iris’ room.

Before she could say anything Iris announced again, “I am going to Kite flying day this year. Will you help me Dena?”

Dena looked at Cherry Blossom, then the machine, then the wheelchair, and then back at Iris.

“Um, yeah, sure Iris. Whatever you say. Um… Iris, how?” Dena’s voice trailed off.

Iris’ excitement was in her answer, “Well, I have it all planned out and I am going to need someone to be my trainer. Will you be my trainer Dena? I have to build up my arms to be able to hold a kite string. My arms are pretty strong now but we have to figure out how long the kite has to stay in the air so I can be part of the contest. So will you help me? You’re really good at schedules and how to do things.”

With enthusiasm Dena answered, “I will help you get a schedule for training and find out what to do to build up your arms, and I will find out how long the kite has to stay in the air for the contest.”

Cherry Blossom was sitting on the bed with Iris. When he glanced back at Dena he saw a small glint of pain in her eyes which travelled down to staring at the floor as she made her vow to Iris.

Cherry Blossom had been silent for as long as he could remember. He loved Iris and would do anything for her. On that same night a storm had erupted. A bright light came to the window of Iris’ room. The curtains were drawn so Iris could get a good nights’ sleep. Cherry Blossom loved to sleep on Iris’ bed but sometimes had to move to the window seat behind the drawn curtains when Iris was having a restless night. This was one of those nights.

Cherry Blossom stirred slowly at the annoying constant light. He opened one eye and then the other, looking to see if he should pounce on anyone that might be disturbing Iris. All he saw was a small turquoise donkey standing in front of him looking Cherry Blossom eye to eye.

“Wake up you lazy cat. It is time,” said the donkey.

Convinced he was dreaming, Cherry Blossom closed his eyes and tucked his head into the tight circle his body had made. SMACK!! What felt like two pins striking his head made Cherry Blossom’s temper go through his whole body jumping straight up on to his four paws. He knew enough to not screech for fear of waking Iris. His eyes were wide open now but he still couldn’t believe what he was looking at. The turquoise donkey was now sitting down on his hind haunches.

Speaking nonchalantly the donkey said, “Now that you are awake I can tell you why I am here.”

Cherry Blossom responded with irritation, “You better hurry up because I am very hungry!”

“Short version. Your great, great, great-grandfather, Puss in Boots, has sent me here to tell you of the powers you possess. For one thing, have you noticed that suddenly you can talk?”

A stunned cat face showed up in the bright light. Then paws to his mouth.

“Rest of short version. You are hereby in possession of the gift of persuasion or as your great, great, great-grandfather liked to call it, cat-trickery. Oh, and here are the boots to go with it.”

Cherry Blossom was back to being annoyed, “The boots?”

The turquois donkey backed up a little, responding, “End of short version. You gotta wear the boots in order to have the ability to persuade.”   

“Oh brother, how dumb do you think I am anyway, although the talking thing is quite nice. I have had a few things I have wanted to tell Iris for a long time,” Cherry Blossom responded.

“Okay, listen carefully because the storm is passing and I have to go. Yes, you can talk to Iris but only until she turns thirteen. She won’t be needing you after that.”

Cherry Blossom understood and put his head down on his paws. “I understand.”

“You have to wear the boots whenever you need to make a plan to help her. So figure out if you are going to tell her about them and wear them all the time or only at certain times so Iris doesn’t know. And lastly these are the gifts left to you many years ago from your great, great, great-grandfather. Take good care of them.” And with that the turquoise donkey was gone.

At first Cherry Blossom hid the boots under the cushion on the window seat. He peeked between the curtains to see if he had disturbed Iris. All was calm. Reaching back under the cushion and taking out the shiny black boots he put them on. Immediately his mind was reeling with ideas as to how to help Iris. He also thought about the look on Dena’s face when Iris told her about participating in Kite Flying Day. He had to find out more about that.

The next morning Iris started right in with chatter about how she was going to train and be ready for the third weekend in May. Easter was around the corner and her mom was preparing for the family get together they usually had at home. Cherry Blossom decided to try out one of his new skills with Iris. He had to do it discreetly so she wouldn’t be surprised or afraid.

“I can’t wait for Dena to come over today,” she spoke out loud.

“I know you are anxious to get going on your training,” Cherry Blossom replied.

“Yes, I need to….,” Iris stared at Cherry Blossom. “Did you just answer my…, speak to… , talk to me...” she asked backing up a bit on her bed.

“Do you know the legend of Puss in Boots?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t know how but I was given a gift last night that came from my great, great, great-grandfather Puss in Boots. Are you afraid?”

“No.”

“I was visited by the turquoise donkey. A close friend of my great, great, great-grandfather.”

“You are making this up!”

“I don’t think so since I am sitting here talking to you. “

“Okay.”

“The turquoise donkey kicked me in the head so I almost ate him but then he pointed out I was talking to him so I let him live.”

“Uh, huh.”

“Then he told me about the gifts he had from my great, great, great-grandfather that he had been carrying around for many years until last night when the storm brought him to your window. He only stayed for a short time and now I can talk to you. Only you. Is that okay?”

“This is great!" Iris exclaimed. "I have always wanted someone or … you, to be able to talk to. I love it!”   

Cherry Blossom was relieved and concerned he had just opened a can of worms that might become too big to handle. But he decided he had been listening to her for years so no big deal. Iris started right in telling all her plans, Cherry Blossom sitting right next to her nodding his head up and down in agreement.

Dena came over after school meeting up with Iris who had wheeled herself out into the living room. Dena explained the exercises that Iris had to do in order to build her upper arm strength. She also gave her the rules for the Kite Flying Day contest. They were really simple because it was meant for anyone and to have fun. Just get your kite as high as you can for as long as it would stay in the sky. Dena was in a bit of a hurry and had to leave right away. Iris was not bothered or didn’t notice because she was busy looking over the exercises she’d been given. But Cherry Blossom noticed and watched as Dena rushed out of Iris’ house and down the street. She seemed to be headed for the local shops. Cherry Blossom excused himself rushing to put on the boots, leaping out of Iris’ bedroom window.

As he made his way toward the shops he found himself upright and walking like a human. He watched as his arms began this forward movement and a kind of swagger made its way into his stride. He puffed out his chest feeling very invigorated and then fell over. He forgot to look down at the tree root crossing his path. Scouting ahead to make sure no one had seen him, Cherry Blossom saw Dena coming out of the kite store. She checked both ways and hurried on toward her house. Cherry Blossom decided to follow.

Finding a spot on Dena’s window sill Cherry Blossom sat very still and watched as Dena came into her room. She threw the package onto her bed and started stomping back and forth.

Dena kept repeating, “This is my year, mine!”

Cherry Blossom returned home. Iris was in her room but didn’t question where he had been. Easter came and went. Iris was as happy as ever working very hard at her exercises. She got outside as much as possible to practice holding the kite string her mom had tied to a tree branch. Her mom couldn’t believe the strength she was building. Dena came every day but didn’t stay as long as she usually did claiming her mom needed her at home.

The third weekend in May was closing in. Cherry Blossom had followed Dena a few more times after she would leave Iris. Dena did not always go home directly. She would walk to the park and stand in the open space staring at the sky. All her plans were ruined. She cared a great deal for Iris but she was becoming jealous of Iris’ illness. Everyone would want her to win, naturally. How could she not let Iris win? No, not this year. Iris can have next year. NOT this year!

Cherry Blossom needed a plan too. He would put on his great, great, great-grandfather’s boots and wait for a brilliant answer. Then it came to him. He knew how to solve the problem.

Kite Flying Day came and it was perfect. The spring breeze was just strong enough to make sure the kites would not only take off quickly but stay high in the sky. Iris’ whole family went. So did her machine. She wheeled herself to the open space where everyone else was gathering. Dena was also there with her whole family. Cherry Blossom had found a way to tuck his boots into his carrying case to have when the time was right.

The whistle blew, the kites were released, and everyone watched in awe. Cherry Blossom put on his boots and was ready to walk out in front of everyone. The distraction would take away from the contest and no one would win. What a great plan he thought to himself. Iris’ kite had gone straight up. She hung on with all her strength. About five minutes after her kite was in the sky she quietly turned to her mom asking her to take the string controls. She reached down, opened Cherry Blossom’s carrying case, and beckoned him to come and sit in her lap. The boots flew off and up he went purring softly and rubbing Iris’ forearm. He understood she was tired.

Dena glanced over to where her friend was sitting noticing she was no longer holding her kite string. Dena handed her string controls to her excited younger brother and walked over to sit with her friend.

 


A Furry Tale contest entry


This was fun to write. I had no idea how the cat was going to solve the problem until the very end. The takeaway is not to think about our limitations but what we can accomplish and that's exactly what Iris and Dena did.
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