Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bark: Personal Space Invaders

We slept with the window open last night, because it was so oppressively hot. You might think this is a normal thing to do, but when you live in a ground floor flat, it's not something you do lightly. Besides, the bedroom window hadn't been opened in roughly two or three years, ever since the management company had repainted the window frames. It took me ten minutes with a kitchen knife to prize away enough of the paint sealing the window to its frame so that we could get it open.

I had a typically late Friday night, scribbling down a few short story ideas in my notebook, going to bed around 3am. It was still very humid, so I didn't even bother with the covers, and eventually got to sleep about half an hour later, glad that there was a breeze coming through the window - albeit a warm one.

At precisely 5am, the breeze wasn't the only thing that had come through the window. I snapped upright in bed, having been woken by a strange sound and some movement off to my left, near the bedroom door. We had a visitor. Still a bit groggy, because I hadn't had much sleep, it took me a few seconds to make out precisely what had invaded my bedroom. A plaintive mewing reassured me that the trespasser wasn't after the silverware. It was a cat. A gorgeous long-haired black cat, with a patch of white fur on the front of its neck. It meowed again, and I proffered my hand to show I was friendly. He started purring almost immediately as I gently stroked him around the neck and ears. "Where did you come from, hmmm?" More purring was the only reply.

My girlfriend was also awake by this point, and I told her "I think we left the window open a little bit too far." The cat meowed again, obviously realising its mistake and indicating that it really should be outside. How it had got through the window and past the net curtain without disturbing us on the bed, or knocking over all the knick-knacks (glass ones, I might add!) on the window sill, I'll never know. I was just glad he wasn't a burgular. "Well, it could be worse, at least he didn't wake us up by jumping on my chest."

There was more purring as I stroked the cat, reflecting on how to get him out of the house. He was too big to pick up and put out the window again, and I was too tired to want to risk doing that anyway. The last thing I wanted was the cat to struggle and knock over one of the vases on the window sill onto the bed. Sleeping on broken glass is not likely to be particularly restful. "Put him out the front door." My girlfriend suggested and I hauled myself wearily to my feet. The cat followed me eagerly, almost like an enthusiastic puppy to the front door, his tail high and straight in the air. He was slightly less enthusiastic when I opened the door, and he saw it was raining (a thunderstorm brewing, much like the one rumbling in the distance now) - but a little nudge sent him hopping out the door. I went back to bed, closing the window a notch, hoping that he would be the night's sole visitor...
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