Gail Gathman




All Quiet on the Asphault Front

We are at rest, several feet from the nearest human. We lay huddled together, in quiet companionship, while we wait for the humans to leave for their trivial affairs. Tammy licks her paws, trying to act as though nothing is the matter, while Sammy lays stock still, keeping watch and patiently waiting for our time of freedom. We lay in refuge under the couch, free from torture and free from mockery.

We are the Lost Domestics. The generation of cats imprisoned in households. Mocked – tortured – inexperienced in the ways of the outside world, yet humbled and matured beyond our years. We have endured a great deal in our years in the household, being dressed in strange fabrics, stuffed inside drawers, dropped from high altitudes. We have watched our companions smashed into the asphault by the loud booming creatures, and others beaten by the wild cats. We can't defend ourselves. We can only endure.

We will never lie in the grass, relaxing in nature's sweet embrace. We will never hunt birds, rabbits, and squirrels. We live in isolation. Unable to understand or be understood. Yet the communion that we have with one another is greater, deeper, than even lovers have. As we sit together, in refuge, we don't speak, but we don't have to. We each know what the other is thinking. Only we can understand what the other is going through.

Eventually, we are sought out. The face of the littlest girl appears in front of us. The mouth moves and a high pitched noise arrupts from it. The hands inch toward us and we back away before they can make contact. We run to hallway and hide under a bed.

We hear a raddling noise, and rush to the kitchen. We become on the instant, feline dogs. Purring, meowing, standing on our hind legs and rubbing on the humans with our paws. The food is set down and we consume.

A loud defening noise errupts – the vaccuum. Our hairs stand on end, we pull our ears back to block out the sound as we rush toward the chairs. How long has it been? Weeks – months – years? Only minutes. Finally, the noise stops. Our fur relaxes over our skin. Our ears ring, but are still intact. Our bodies are alive, our hearts are dead. We return to the couch.

They have left. We crawl out from under the couch and stretch out our legs. Tammy starts exploring to see if she can find a way outside, while Sammy and I sprawl on the floor. Our bellies are full, and the house is empty. We are satisfied and at peace. Tammy appears from around the corner looking very excited.

“ One of the windows is open!” we leap up in excitement and rush down the hall.

As we walk out into the great unknown, we feel a surge of new-won hope, of new life that is yet

to be experienced. The trees beckon us forward, and we follow. The grass beneath our paws, the birds above our heads, the wind in our faces, are such new experiences that we cease to be cats. We become wild dogs, and in a rush of adrenaline run towards a squirrel on the street. The world passes by in slow motion. We just about have the squirrel in our clutches when we look forward and see a huge red creature booming towards us. The world goes black.

They lay in the road, on a beautiful autumn day that was so quiet it could only be explained by a single sentence: All was quiet on the asphault front.