This story is longer than usual, but I’ve got that much news I literally don’t know where to start!
I suppose it all started on Christmas Day when Mummy was given a very special Christmas present by her daughter. It was a framed portrait of me painted by a local artist! I didn’t get to actually see until Boxing Day because we had that ghastly dog staying with us over Christmas but this year I wasn’t even particularly worried about that. I bet he’s not featured amongst the family portraits hanging in the hall at his home. Ha!
Naturally with Diamond Harbour being such a small place, word got out and in the weeks that followed a steady stream of neighbourhood cats came over for a viewing, probably hopeful that their owners would want to follow suit and get their own portrait done. Alarmingly even a couple of dogs turned up, although I didn’t let them into the house of course!
It was at one of these “viewings” that I first laid eyes on Meghan. I could tell at once that she was a class act and something of an art scholar. It was the way she stood back from the portrait and cocked her head as if appraising the work deeply and thoughtfully before she finally spoke in a rich throaty voice.
“You know Weasley – you don’t mind me calling you Weasley do you?”
I nodded dumbly. What else would she call me? Mr Brown? Sir?
“The most enriching and fascinating artwork requires an investment of time to fully appreciate,” she continued. “The artist has captured your pensive mood and it arouses my curiosity and makes me want to get to know you better. I love art, don’t you? How it can be forceful and dramatic, or subtle and contemplative? Which do you prefer – abstract expressionism or photorealism?”
I attempted to adopt my contemplative look as if considering this. “Photorealism, I think”.
“I knew you’d say that!” she said and laughed as though we had struck some huge cosmic bond.
I took her on a walk round the garden and she listened with rapt attention while I showed her some of my favourite places and told her about Ron, Squeak and Serafina. I was surprised at how quickly the time seemed to fly when I was with Meghan but before long the sun started to set.
“I’m going to have to go home now for my dinner,” she said, and I was pleased to hear the disappointment in her voice.
“Come over again,” I cried. “We can – “ I only just stopped myself from saying “look at my picture again” and I struggled to end the sentence. I thought about inviting her to our mindfulness meeting on Wednesday evening but I wasn’t sure Meghan would much like sitting under the deck watching the others stuff their faces with stolen food and listening to Serafina bang on about her latest social action campaign. Thankfully Meghan finished it for me:
“I’ll come soon so we can get to know each other better,” she said with a sultry smile and dropped a photograph at my feet before turning to leave. She walked slowly away, deliberately flicking her tail from side to side as she went. I stood mesmerized and suddenly the urge to eat deserted me and all I could do for the rest of the evening was stare at her photograph and dream about the wonderful afternoon we had spent together.
The following morning Ron came over. After he’d polished off the full bowl of Jimbos that I’d scarcely touched, he licked his lips and said:
“Nice bit of steak and kidney. What’s wrong? Aren’t you eating?”
“I don’t need food at the moment,” I said dreamily and gazed once more at the photograph that I’d propped up against one of the flowerpots. Ron gave a low whistle.
“Who’s the hottie?” he said and glanced at the back of the photo which showed her name written neatly in capital letters. “Meghan, eh? Wow!”
“It’s not Mee-gan”, I corrected. “It’s Megg-un”. She came over yesterday to look at my portrait and we got chatting. We talked about art.”
“Yeah right,” scoffed Ron. “Where does she live? I haven’t seen her around before.”
“I don’t know”. I’d only just realised that I didn’t know this. What if she didn’t come round again? She’d be lost to me forever.
“We’ve got to find her!” I said urgently.
“Calm down Valentino! You might want to get rid of that dirty great pimple on your face before we start setting up a search party to find – Meg-han,” said Ron sounding out the syllables of her name clearly.
“What dirty great pimple?”
Ron led me inside and pushed my face into the shiny food bowl which he’d recently licked clean.
My God, it was hideous! I certainly hadn’t felt it or noticed it before. Had it been there yesterday when I was happily chatting with Meghan and she’d been too polite to say anything? Was it shining out like a beacon in the portrait that I’d been proudly showing off to half the community? I hurriedly went to check and was relieved to find that there was no unsightly lump showing on my face. That was a relief at least.
Meghan came round that evening. My heart leapt when I spotted her out of the window but sensing she wouldn’t want to be seen with a freak, I went and hid under Mummy’s bed. After a while Mummy walked in and got worried because I hadn’t been eating anything and wondered why I was hiding under the bed. Then she saw the – the thing on my face and I was catapulted into the middle of my own personal nightmare.
The following day I was put in a cage and as we walked out to the car Mummy said we were taking a drive out into to somewhere called “Little River”. I could see Ron in the driveway and as the car door closed I wondered if he had heard this and I hoped he would tell the others of my fate. We drove for ages and all the while I was convinced she was going to put me in a bag and drown me in this little river. Maybe that’s why she wanted to have a portrait of me as a memento. I’d never see Meghan again or play with Ron, Squeak and Serafina. Never snuggle up to Mummy in her dressing gown – I felt a lump forming in my throat as the car stopped.
The moment I was inside the building I knew exactly where I was. I was at the Vet! I’d been here before when I had my balls – er, when I was “fixed”. Mummy left without any tearful, heart-rending goodbyes and I was given an injection which made me feel extremely sleepy. Thoughts of Meghan swirled around my head as I faced the reality that I was undoubtedly being put to sleep. Just like Whittaker had been.
When I awoke I was back in my cage and Mummy was smiling at me through the bars. I gave her my filthiest look but although I was still woozy and my face felt swollen and bruised, I had a feeling that everything was going to be alright.
I slept most of the way home, my mind too addled to comprehend what might have happened at the Vet. We arrived home and Mummy tried to put this ridiculous plastic thing round my neck.
I wasn’t having a bar of it and managed to rip the thing off in short order. Thankfully she didn’t try again but I had to stay inside for a whole week! The good side to this was that Mummy kept coming home with the most delicious food. All my favourites were on offer! On the downside, I got so bored that I couldn’t help doing naughty things like jumping on the kitchen bench. I meowed continuously at the doors and windows, trying to sneak out every time Mummy stepped out of the door. It was a long week, particularly since I was unable to see any of my friends. I kept watching out the window for Meghan and one day I thought I saw her beautiful face in the shrubbery.
I turned my cheek as I wanted to show her my scar and stitches. I seem to remember Ron saying this can be a real chick-puller and I wondered briefly if I should consider changing my name from Weasley to Scarface. But either Meghan wasn’t much into scars or perhaps I had only dreamed I’d seen her, as the vision in the shrubbery disappeared with another cat and I was left alone to play with a toy mouse and a ping-pong ball.
Finally, the wound healed, there was no sign of the growth and I was allowed back outside. It was on a Wednesday so I was itching to tell the others about my adventures at the mindfulness meeting. I was secretly hoping to see Meghan before the meeting but she was nowhere to be seen. I was also extremely surprised and disappointed that Serafina was absent.
“Where’s Serafina?” I asked Ron and Squeak after they’d marveled at fact that my face was now completely back to normal. They’d both been by the day after I got home and seen the great bloody gash on my face through the window.
“She’s, she’s – resting at home,” said Squeak. “She’s been beside herself with worry and got very, um … tired and emotional”.
“We must go and see her!” I said. “Put her mind at rest”.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” protested Squeak, but I was already striding off towards Serafina’s house with Squeak hard on my heels.
The moment I saw Serafina I knew why Squeak had warned me against it. My poor little sister was sound asleep in a cardboard box amongst empty gin bottles.
“She thought you had a malignant tumour,” said Squeak, and all I wanted to do was give my little sister a big brotherly hug and tell her I was okay.
“She’s going feel like crap in the morning,” said Ron
We went back to my house. I had a feeling that the boys wanted to tell me something and when Squeak starting – squeaking, I could tell that something was wrong.
“It’s about Meegan, um … Meggun,” began Squeak uncomfortably.
“What about Meghan?” I said anxiously. “She’s not ill is she? She hasn’t been out on the turps with Serafina?”
“Well we think it might have been Meghan who was responsible for Serafina’s er, … condition,” said Squeak. “When we told Serafina about Meghan she started to do a bit of detective work and it seems that Serafina found out that Meghan is on heat.”
“On heat?!” I was horrified. “Are you sure? I didn’t think female cats on heat normally hunted down a male to talk about art. Isn’t it a bit more primal than that?”
“Evidently not,” said Squeak. “According to Serafina she thought you were un-neutered and has been hitting on all the Toms in Diamond Harbour. We think she wanted to knock Serafina out to get her out of the way. Meghan didn’t realise Serafina’s your sister”.
“This is appalling,” I said horrified. “What do you make of it, Ron?”
“I’m appalled,” said Ron.
“Serafina seems to think Meghan is leaving the Harbour soon anyway,” said Squeak who also looked appalled.
“Then I’m pleased,” I said with more defiance than I felt. “After all I’ve been through lately Megxit can’t come soon enough!”