“You’re not going to wear that, are you?”
“Listen to the fashion expert. There’s nothing wrong with my new t-shirt. You’re the one wearing a politically incorrect fur coat!” Molly snapped.
Ignoring her friend’s last remark Mopple continued admiring the stripes on her own front legs. Her left paw lazily swiped at a passing fly. She yawned, displaying two rows of needle sharp teeth. The fly had reminded her it was lunchtime. Her yellow eyes squinted into the sunlit bedroom, taking in the second hand wardrobe, the worn rug and the jumble sale curtains. Finally her gaze came to rest on her human friend. Her whiskers twitched.
“Ok, what’s wrong with it?” Molly took a closer look at herself in the mirror.
“What’s wrong with it? It’s got a whacking great big dinosaur printed on the front.” Mopple sighed.
“It isn’t a dinosaur. It’s Nessie.”
“Nessie? We’re on first name terms with bloodthirsty prehistoric beasts now, are we?” Mopple flicked her tail.
“Nessie isn’t a bloodthirsty dinosaur…she’s…mythological. Anyway, Helen gave me this t-shirt. She bought it in
Scotland during our holiday.” Molly spun around on the spot to get a glimpse of her back. The light fell through the open bedroom window giving Molly’s mousy brown hair a halo. Next door’s dog barked.
“The holiday I wasn’t invited to. Just rub it in, why don’t you.” Mopple rolled onto her side and stared at a rucksack on the floor. “What’s mythological?”
“Legendary, folk tales, that sort of thing. Nessie is a big tourist attraction at Loch Ness in
Scotland. Helen and I -”
“Legendary? Like me you mean?”
“Mopple, you’re not a legend, you’re real and at the moment you’re crushing my home work. Get off my biology project.” Molly tried to chase Mopple off her notebook without much success.
“Hah, I am very much a legend! I’m a mesmerizing, omnipotent, photogenic, phantastically legendary entity. MOPPLE for short.”
“I was told your name stands for Mostly Organic Prototype Pet Lion-Tiger Experiment. An android prototype cross breed. It’s actually stamped on your metal belly button. And you can’t spell fantastic.”
Mopple stretched her body into a furry sausage shaped obstacle, hooked her titanium claws into the duvet and purred. Molly tore at her notebook trying to shift Mopple onto the bedspread.
“What’s a prototype?” The lion-tiger cub growled fastening her grip on the duvet.
“The very first of something, a brand new invention like a new car model for instance. Or an android cat.”
“There you go then! I am unique, one of a kind. I am far too grand to be named by some factory. Look at me: am I not a magnificent, original, purrrfectly paw-tastic, lovely escort for any child?”
“Mopple, you are a mutinous…obstinate…pestilential…pain of a lion-tiger extract. Now get off my homework!” Molly tugged violently at her notebook knocking Mopple off the bed in the process.
Turning in mid-air she landed on her paws. The bedspread stuck to her claws, trailing behind her like a train fit for a queen. She freed herself from her unwanted garment and strolled over to the new rucksack. Mopple sniffed, her whiskers quivering with distaste.
“Apart from wasting money on has-been dinosaurs, what else did you and Helen do in
Scotland? Rolling about in kippers by the stink of this backpack!”
“We visited a fish farm where they showed us how smoked salmon is made.”
“Smoked salmon, eh? All right for some. Mrs. Trustworthy dished up the most frightful cat food every day. Rabbit flavoured soy bits in gravy…how could you leave me with that woman! No stimulating conversation either, the old biddy kept making cooing noises at me. What am I - a baby parrot? I bet you forgot all about me, when you were lording it at your hotel…having fun, eating out, going to parties…”
“We went on long walks in the hills, talked a lot. We stayed on a camping site…you wouldn’t have like it. It rained a lot. Not good for your circuit boards.”
“A tent? Why didn’t Helen pay for a hotel room? Too stingy, eh, can’t like you as much as she says she does. I could have come with you if you’d stayed in a hotel. I don’t need much: a cosy fire, six or seven decent meals a day, a back rub once or twice…”
“How can I tell Helen I have a speaking cat? Helen’s pretty decent, as far as foster mothers go, money’s just a bit tight at the moment. She couldn’t afford a hotel. I’m really sorry you couldn’t come with us, ok? Sorry you had a horrible time with the neighbour. Look, I don’t want to spoil it here and be sent back to the children’s home. Helen would go mad if she heard you speak, I know she would.”
“Purrfectly understandable. My voice is musical, operatic, perfectly pitched, lyrical and extraordinary. It’s quite right for Helen to be in awe.”
“Mopple, you really take the biscuit! Helen must never find out I travelled to the future in a time machine and brought you back. How can I possibly tell her? She thinks I got lost in the woods for a few days. Helen’s got no idea that Peter, Leroy and I saved Earth.”
“Actually, I saved Earth, but I allowed you to help. Now, about that t-shirt: if you’re wearing it to please Helen, fine…but if you’re trying to impress your friends…well…”
“For the last time: what’s wrong with this t-shirt?” Molly stamped her foot.
“Unless Earth was once populated by pink fluffy dinosaurs, I’d say your Nessie is a bit girlie.”
“The Loch Ness Monster can be any colour she likes. Saved Earth, my foot! You just got in the way when the action started. Peter, Leroy and I fought -”
“Got in the way? That killer robot wouldn’t have tripped if I hadn’t heroically thrown myself into her path -”
“That killer robot fell over you when you legged it back to the safety of the time machine, cat-of-mine.”
“I wouldn’t have had to sacrifice myself, if you’d worn that Nessie t-shirt. The robot would have doubled up laughing and there wouldn’t have been a fight at all!”
Molly threw a rolled up sock at her unruly pet. Mopple evaded the woolly missile with a casual swipe of her paw. The girl picked up a water pistol and chased her cat around the bedroom, squirting water jets at the retreating feline. Trying to escape the firing squad, Mopple skidded on the floorboards, crashed into the desk and upset a pile of books. A cascade of novels tumbled down and Mopple’s tail was hit by the literary might of
Treasure Island and Gulliver’s Travels. This called for revenge.
She dived under the bed emerging on the other side with Molly’s favourite scarf in her mouth. Mopple unleashed her titanium claws and launched a pretend attack. The silky fabric quivered under her paws.
“You wouldn’t dare! Helen gave me that scarf for my birthday. If you ruin it, I swear I’ll shave off your fur!”
“Holidays…scarves…Helen’s trying to buy your friendship, isn’t she? Wonder how she can afford it!”
“No she isn’t. She’s not like the other foster mothers…she really cares…she’s been working overtime. Please, give me back the scarf.”
“The question is, do you care? I mean, it’s all very cosy here for you and if she gives you a lot of things, I can understand why you wouldn’t want to leave such a profitable place. But do you care for her the way she cares for you?”
“Of course I care. She’s good to me.” Molly bit her lip.
“That’s not what I asked. Do you care about her?”
“If I say yes, will you give me back the scarf?”
“No. I’ll return the scarf if you say YES and really mean it.”
Mopple picked up the scarf and jumped on the bed, the delicate silk trailing behind her. She unhooked the scarf from her claws, made a comfortable nest of it and settled down.
“I am waiting. Either you like Helen for who she is or you don’t. Simple enough question.”
“Erm…we had a great time in
Scotland. No social worker poking her long nose in. Just Helen and me. She’s funny, you know. I mean she makes me laugh…not that she’s peculiar or anything. The way she threw her arms around me when we returned from the future! I thought she’d be mad…my clothes were dirty and torn, I’d been missing for days, had lost my backpack.”
“Are you telling me you missed her when you were in the future? Did you actually want to come back here?”
“YES! I wanted to go ho…it felt good coming back.” Molly corrected herself hurriedly.
“You wanted to go home? This is home then, is it?”
“I guess so, cat-of-mine. YES, ok?”
“That’s good. The social worker with the long nose told me you’re allowed to stay here for good. I can adopt you, daughter-of-mine.”
“Helen!” Molly stared at the woman standing in the doorway.
“How did I do?” Mopple held up her paw and Helen shook it affectionately.
“Splendidly, detective Mopple! You didn’t think you could keep a secret like a speaking cat from me, did you my girl? The walls have ears in this house. I stopped believing in imaginary friends long ago.” Helen’s eyes sparkled. She fell onto the bed laughing. Her laugh was infectious and Molly started giggling, too.
Tying the scarf around Mopple’s neck Helen finally said: “Anyone for lunch? It’s smoked salmon, salad and home made bread.”
“A most opulent, pricey, purrfectly luxurious experience, I’m sure!” Mopple sighed in anticipation.
“We have a reason to celebrate, let’s make it a special occasion. Why don’t you dress for lunch, Molly? Your favourite blouse perhaps? Mopple is looking very posh in her silk scarf. I’m going to wear my best dress. Honestly, you look like a seven-year-old in that t-shirt! I don’t know what I was thinking off when I bought it. I guess my mothering instinct got the better off me.” Helen smiled and rose to return to the kitchen.
“You’re going to wear that, are you?” Mopple asked five minutes later when the friends sat side by side on the bed.
“Yeah, it’s my favourite t-shirt. Any objections?” Molly snapped.
Mopple’s head nestled against the pink dinosaur design. A cloud of multicoloured cat hair rose up tickling Molly’s nose, when she stroked her pet.
“No, you look purrfectly paw-tastic!” Mopple grinned. It felt good to be home.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Maria Thermann.
Published on e-Stories.org on 16.11.2009.