2003 Anne Horton Writing Award
Honorable Mention - Narrative/Descriptive
" My Windowsill Cat"
Pam R. Harrison
The cat I don't yet know sits on my windowsill soaking up the tranquility of the day. The cat is white with large black splotches, and it is lying with its tail wrapped around its body. The curtains surrounding the cat are indeed curtains rather than drapes. Ending shortly below the window, they are pulled back on the sides to let the natural light into the house. The day outside is sunny, but not glaring. The sky is blue, and the clouds are white and fluffy, like a colored negative of the splotches on the cat's body. As I enter the room and see him there, looking so peaceful, a feeling of serenity comes over me.
The room itself quiets my soul for it is designed to be a comfortable room. It is painted a warm yellow, with subdued floral prints hanging upon the walls. There are flowers everywhere as pots of live red flowers with deep green foliage rest on tables and shelves. The chair I sit in to look out the window is a deep, cushiony chair of yellow chintz with warm red flowers scattered across it. It is the type of dream home an independent, self-contained cat would like to live in.
My house now is not that type: it is never neat. Any cat living here would need to lift his dainty paws high as he moved about. My home has the stuff of our lives flowing everywhere: the curtains, for example, are never neatly drawn hack; instead they are unevenly yanked aside to let in sunlight. The two plants that sit in this room are survivors; they cling to life by sheer willpower, not by tender loving care. The furniture is old-worn thin from the enthusiastic youth of my children, and from that of my husband as well, for we inherited this couch from his childhood home. My home today is very different from the one in which my future cat and I will live. The comfort that is found here is in the people rather than the surroundings.
I don't know this cat yet; my daughter's allergies prevent me from owning him now. I do know cats, though. As a child in the country, I would sit for hours at the edge of my yard where it bounded the cornfield, attempting to entice a wild cat into the open. To my mother's dismay, I was frequently successful. I used milk, kind words, and patience. You need to be calm when you try to become friends with a field cat. You sit there, surrounded by your mother's flowers, your father's corn, and the stunning blue sky. You sit for hours, uninterrupted, because you're not causing trouble and you don't need anything. You talk softly, you reach out a hand, you move only slightly closer, and eventually you move back so that you can be followed. An entire warm, sunny, peaceful day can be spent this way, and at the end of that day, you have someone new in your life to snuggle and stroke.
The black and white cat on my windowsill lives on the edge of my current chaotic life. His image draws me to the future-to a time when my children are grown and my house is a little neater, but also a little lonelier. As I sit in my chair at the end of the day. he will slowly unwrap his tail from around himself, arch his back, and stretch forward. One soft paw will reach out and gently touch me; and then, surrounded by flowers, we will be together. He has waited so patiently for me.