Through Green Eyes, by Mayumi Hirtzel
Rural, feudal Japan is an interesting place to live. Especially for the family cat.
Written for NaNoWriMo 2005 (my first!), after a long-postponed visit to my second home, Japan.
Read the intro below!
Mama had left her, her and the brothers and sisters – all five of them – alone, and the cold had come. It penetrated her, and she shivered violently, and mewled for Mama. Her brothers and sisters complained, too; but as time passed and the cold worsened, the little voices stopped, one by one.
She snuggled deeper against her siblings, and shivered again, and waited. After shuddering for many hours, she realized that Mama was not going to come back. In the stillness, she could only curl herself tighter, to try to stay warm. She had the strength only to raise her head every once in a while, to call weakly against the whistling wind.
It took some time, but slowly, a gentle warmth flowed over her. She remembered the warmth from before, before the darkness. It had come back, to settle into her fur and stop her trembling, at least for a little while.
Her ears opened up, and she heard the crunch of leaves and grass, in fits and starts. Then, a sound, like Mama but not Mama. Not like brothers and sisters, either. This new sound was big, heavy, anxious.
She curled closer to brother’s belly, to avoid being seen. She had learned that much during the days that Mama had been away – what a big thing could not see, it usually did not bother.
A loud, high-pitched voice pierced her little ears, and she whined.
“Don’t touch them, Yukiko.” She heard a new voice now, this one softer than the other. “They’re dead.”
Something large blocked the warmth, and she had to protest. She raised her head and hissed, as bravely as she could.
“Ah!” the first voice cried again. “Nii-chan!”
“That one’s still alive,” said the other. “Give me your kerchief.”
She waited for the attack, hissing at the shadows around her. Then she felt something wrapped around her, and there was the sudden sensation of speed and movement. She was being lifted away from her siblings. She pawed weakly at the cocoon around her and started to whine.
The second, softer voice hushed her. “It’s all right.”
“Can I pet it?” The first voice was close to her, still quite loud.
“It’s scared. Speak softly.”
“Can I pet it?” the first voice asked again, more quietly now.
“Let’s get it home first.”
She wanted to protest, to go back to her brothers and sisters, to wait for Mama. But she knew that Mama would not be back, didn’t she? So she relented, and curled up against the warmth of this stranger with the soft voice, and eventually fell asleep.