Feline Danger in the Family Dwelling
There lived, in the house next door, a pair of cats named Bertie and Gussie. Their owners were a much loved Uncle and Aunty who much loved P. G. Wodehouse. The feline Bertie, like his literary namesake, had a special talent for creating commotion, and he once created a commotion of Woosterian proportions in our household. And I don’t mean Woosterian as in foppish and affected, although that is the accepted meaning. I mean of the Bertie Wooster kind.
It was a tranquil Saturday morning. Helios was riding his celestial chariot, its brilliant golden beams streaming in through our bedroom window. A gentle breeze sang softly through the trees, and the sparrows chirped sweetly along. It was too early for the raucous crickets and the raucous cricket the neighbor boys played every weekend.
The Favorite Daughters were in different corners of the house, each minding their own business. This was an extremely rare scenario in the Edwards home, and had Mummy been around she would immediately have suspected that commotion was a-brewing. But Mummy was not around, which is why we were able to mind our own business. Had Mummy been around, she would have forced us to mind her business, which was always very closely connected to the word “chores.”
All these years later, I cannot recall which Favorite Daughter First Discerned Feline Danger in the Family Dwelling. Either way, that FD immediately stopped minding her business and got the other FDs to immediately stop minding theirs. This is why I think the First Discerner was the Favorite Daughter, because she was the only one who could make the other FDs immediately stop minding their business. The Third FD never had that kind of authority (though she now has more authority than either of us, having more kids than either of us). And as for the Second FD (as I refer to myself in the third person), I never had that kind of presence of mind. I was absentminded when I was minding my own business, and wild horses couldn’t Forcefully Drag me away.
But I digress. In fact, since my business always involved the chasing of some Futile Dream, I very Foolishly Digress. Let me return to the tale of Feline Danger.
How Bertie got out of his Family Dwelling I will never know, but he got into ours by climbing through my esteemed parents’ bedroom window. When I saw him he was perched arched-backed on the windowsill, hissing and spitting at Chibi. Chibi, whose legs did not permit him to reach windowsills, could only howl and prowl and scowl and growl like a Wodehousian constable.
As Fate Decreed, the much loved Uncle and Aunty who owned Bertie, being Family Doctors, were at that moment inconveniently looking after patients. Mummy, being the same, was doing the same. And Papa, who had an inerrant tendency to not be around when we needed him, was not around. Consequently, the Favorite Daughters were left to deal with the situation ourselves – and all three of us were mortally afraid of cats.
I have processed my fear of cats in a cleverly titled short story, “Fear of Cats,” so I won’t process it here. I am taking the shortest route I can to The End, and I cannot stop to process every fear and phobia. When that story is published, you may purchase it for your reading pleasure. Meanwhile, I must get on with this story.
The Favorite Daughters may have been mortally afraid of cats, but we were exceptionally gifted shriekers – and there was no shrieking caste system in our family. We were all equally gifted. For this special talent, neither of my esteemed parents accepted any responsibility, even though it was clear, even without any DNA test, that we were indeed their own three Favorite Daughters.
Mummy was one of three sisters, so Papa could have blamed her side of the family, but he was not stupid. He could recognize a special talent when he saw it – or, in this case, heard it. He often blamed our shrieking for all manner of things, once even the loss of his nail clippers, and he sometimes claimed he’d go mad living in a house full of shrieking women. (This he did halfheartedly, because he knew he had come into the house already mad.) Still, he was not going to let any special talent be passed on to the other side of the family. He blamed it on his mother and her sisters, whom he had heard shriek (mostly at each other) throughout his younger and more vulnerable years.
Papa’s theory on the origins of our shrieking pleased Mummy greatly. She had always maintained that she and her sisters were the paragons of Female Decorum, as befits the daughters of a well-respected minister.
Whether we inherited our special talent From Dadi and her sisters, or whether we acquired it on our own (which is my own opinion), I can honestly say my sisters and I were exceptional shriekers. And it is this special talent that Formally Delivered us from a Fate Decidedly worse than Fearsome Death that Frightening Day.
Our talented shrieking alerted the neighbors to our plight, and some kindly neighbor delivered us by taking Bertie off the windowsill. What would have happened had that kindly neighbor never been born I leave you to ponder.