TITLE: Autumn and Hades
By mary Blanchard
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The monster stood over her, crazed eyes glowing hotly into hers, as drool rained down on her. A foul furnace-like breath poured out between glistening fangs as he reached out for her throat....
Autumn woke from her beauty nap, shaking from the nightmare. And thankfully it was just a nightmare. Yet for some reason, it seemed more like a premonition. She turned in her basket, sighed deeply and fell back into a dreamless sleep.
For a long time Autumn was enough for the Quincy family. She was a beautiful cat; tortoiseshell-colored, long fur and luxurious whiskers. Her best feature (she thought) were her green eyes.Her name was Autumn because the Quincys adopted her from the pound in October five years ago. She was happy to be the only pet, after being captive in the chaos of the pound.
Autumn was also smart, funny and affectionate. She love to be cuddled and always ran to the door to greet visitors, a rather dog-like habit that she would be insulted over if anyone had mentioned it. (she also had a secret “dogvice”—she liked drinking out of the toilet, and thought no one else knew). The only flaw Autumn thought she had was a tendency to mat under her chin. It was impossible to reach when she groomed herself. Otherwise, she considered herself to be perfect.
Each person in the Quincy family loved Autumn, in their own ways. Mrs. Quincy liked showing her off to guests, explaining in a whisper why she didn’t enter Autumn in shows-“She hasn’t any papers and she would be offended if I placed her in the household category. But we so adore her.”
Emma, who was six, overdid the adoration as far as Autumn was concerned. She would swoop down and snatch Autumn up under her front legs, bring her nose-to-nose while her body dangled. Then Emma would hug her so hard the fur around her neck would poof out like a lion’s mane.
“Ohhhhmylittlekittywitty, “ Emma would squeal in her face. “I just “WUV” you!” It was all Autumn could do to not nip that nose pressed to hers, but she was after all, (sigh) a lady.
Sometimes Emma would dress Autumn up in doll clothes. Autumn bore it with dignity and she had to admit, when Emma held her up to her mirror, she did look quite fetching. But being wrestled into the clothes was stressful, so Autumn was grateful when Emma quit putting the matching panties on her, as it put a dreadful kink in her tail. The upside of all this was she did get extra naptime since Emma would then put her in the doll cradle.
Baby Carrie was just beginning to toddle, and not knowing what to do with a cat, only wanted to suck on Autumn’s tail. Autumn became very gymnastic to keep out of the baby’s soggy grasp.
If asked, Autumn would have said Sam, age eleven, and Ralph, the father, were her favorites. They would tell her how pretty she was, gently ruffle her fur, tickle her chin, and pull strings for her to chase. They gave her catnip mice, and even made her a scratching post. She was spoiled rotten.
One evening when Sam was more or less doing his homework on the floor of the family room, he had an idea. He’d been tickling Autumn’s foot (another doglike habit of Autumn was laying on her back with all four feet in the air), and perhaps it was the doggishness in her that gave him that idea.
“You know Dad,” said Sam, “It would be nice to have a dog too, don’t you think?”
Mr. Quincy put his paper down and looked over his glasses at Sam.
“No, I don’t think,” he said.
“But dad, I need a dog. Boys are supposed to have dogs. It will teach me responsibility and all that.”
“You’re not old enough.”
“Dad, for crying out loud! I’m eleven. You had a dog when you were ten, remember?”
“Yes , but I didn’t already have a cat,” said his father, believing that would settle the matter. He returned to his paper.
“Yeah, Autumn’s great and all, but a dog would be even more fun. I could take him for walks and play fetch and stuff. C’mon, Dad.”
Autumn was stunned. She simply couldn’t believe what he said. A dog, more fun than HER?
So what if she didn’t like walks? If it was that important to him, he could always carry her. And it wasn’t as if he asked her to fetch. She might, if she was in the mood. She once fetched a mouse and dropped it at Mrs. Quincy’s feet, and she’d nearly fainted. So fetching didn’t seem that exciting.
Mr. Quincy growled a bit and put down his paper. He thought back to when he was ten, then said,”Sam, let me talk to your mother about this. It is a huge responsibility as you said, so I’ll skip that part of the lecture. But you know how Mom is about keeping the house just so. You’d have to make sure it didn’t make the tiniest mess ir it would be out and you and I would be in the doghouse instead.”
“I would, Dad, I really would! I promise. You’ll see. He could even be a watchdog. And he could play with Autumn, he added just in case his dad was not fully convinved.
“Okay, okay, we’ll see. You’re mom’s no pushover like me. Give me some time to soften her up,” he said, shaking the paper open for one last try.
“How much time?”
“Don’t push it Sam,” came floating over the paper.
Sam leaned over to whisper in Autumn’s ear, making it twitch. “Did you hear that, girl? We just might get to have a new addition. Wouldn’t that be cool?”
Freezing, thought Autumn sarcastically, then got up frostily and marched to her basket.
Hmph, she thought, I’ve been enough for all this time, and somehow I’ll make sure I’m enough for all time! Then she did what any cat would do in her dilemma: she’d sleep on it.
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