She sat on the balcony every morning among the plants
breathing in the morning dew and fresh air. It felt nice being outdoors, even
if this was on the third floor of a city-centre apartment. This was her ‘outside’.
The days passed calmly, as they do for an indoor cat.
But there was one day when something extraordinary happened.
Her housemates left early in the morning to “run errands”, as
they told her. They reassured her they would be back soon as they had left
their food baking in that square thing in the kitchen that heated up real fast
and they called an ‘oven’.
It was hot that day. She realised it, as there was no fresh
air, not even in the shade provided by the plants.
And all of a sudden, it happened.
Black smoke began filling up the house and causing an
increasingly suffocating atmosphere.
She found it hard to breathe and snuck further behind the
pots of the leafiest of plants. It didn’t work much, as the smoke intensified
and there was a pungent smell that hurt her nostrils.
After a while, she heard commotion, but it wasn’t from
inside the house. Her housemates had not yet returned.
And then, the sirens. Loud and shrieking, piercing her ears.
The door breaking open and five tall men, dressed heavily
with helmets and bearing a long rubber hose that began to shoot out water. Voices
shouting at all tones all at once, people moving in and out of the house,
staring at her hiding behind the pots.
The smoke dispersed but the smell remained. She tried to go
into the house to see who these people were and what happened, and that was
when her housemates arrived and she could hear their voices break with agony.
One of them picked her up and clenched her in her arms. She
said it was to reassure her that everything was all right and she was grateful
nothing had happened to her. But the black cat knew that the hug served more as
a comfort for her housemate, to loosen the tension and calm her nerves.
She had survived a fire.
To her housemates, she was the luckiest cat alive.
But to her, they were the lucky ones.