We were as snug as two bugs in a rug. Newly married, a car and a home of our own, and bewitched with each other.
OK, so the car was a battered old Volkswagen, but it started up most mornings, usually in the summertime.
Our home was a two bedroom terraced house, the terrace standing alone amid rubble as all surrounding rows had been condemned for demolition. But it was our house, our snug little nest with everything we needed, except carpets and the odd stick of furniture.
Each morning he would light the scrunched up paper in the fire grate, draw it by holding a sheet of newspaper over the shovel, until it took hold of the coals. That would ensure a warm and cosy house to come home to after work.
Oh, we were young and carefree and silly; and he was besotted with me.
And then she turned up.
He brought her home from work one day. She’d become homeless, and he, the big benevolent softy, invited her to stay with us until she found alternative accommodation. “It not for long,” he promised me.
Miss Prim, I called her. I had my reservations from the start. She appeared to have an attitude problem concerning me. Her real name was Bella but I couldn’t bring myself to call her by that name. It was too amiable.
She was a fussy eater too. She picked‘n’piked, sniffed at the things I’d cooked--especially to please mind, and her table etiquette was atrocious.
He and she got along just fine. They had an affinity between them, an unspoken understanding of sorts. I’m not a callous person. I mean, I wouldn’t see anyone in need without offering a helping hand, but she, Miss Prim’n’Proper, the green eyed monster, was stealing my husband’s affections, right under my nose.
And I was having none of it! I needed a quiet word.
I bided my time. The right moment came after work one day. He had eaten a huge helping of beef and ale pie, and two potatoes more than a pig. He left the table and flopped heavily onto our poor sofa, carelessly kicking off his shoes. The fire was roaring in the hearth and soon the socks followed the shoes. I wanted him in relaxed mode before I issued my ultimatum.
“Husband,” I began. The big toe wiggled ceremoniously. It was an, ‘I can hear you, but I can’t be bothered to open my eyes,’ kind of gesture. I looked around to be sure my rival hadn’t sneaked in behind me. “Oi; you!” I poked him hard in the ribs. And then, suddenly…
“AAAAARGH!” Miss Prim sprang from underneath the sofa and bagged that big, wiggly toe in one. He pranced and danced, kicked and cavorted, whacked her backside with a newspaper and uttered dreadful expletives - all to my gleeful amusement. Those aloof, green eyes had taken on a spirited, defiant look. I was savouring every second of it. “DO SOMETHING,” he yelled.
“NO!” I hollered back.
“She’s chewing my toe.” He hopped around the room.
“She likes you,” I cooed. Eventually, she spat him out. Apparently bored, she curled up on the hearth rug, mesmerised by the flames. Husband looked dreadfully hurt; I almost felt sorry for him. “She’s a hunter,” I declared. Now that didn’t go down well at all. “She’s been stalking my husband from the day she arrived,” I whinged.
“Rubbish!” he snorted. “She’s playful, that’s all.” He nursed his ‘poorly’ in both hands, while the left big toe absentmindedly wiggled. Oh dear.
Springing onto all fours, back hemispherical, ears well flattened, and feline eyes sporting a hyper manic glint, she flew into a skirmish encounter. Sprinting three circuits around the living room; up the curtains, down the curtains; somersaulting over the sofa - before finally ambushing the unsuspecting ‘other’ toe, “Yup, she’s playful,” I agreed.
I couldn’t admit it, but I was actually warming towards Miss Prim. I liked her style; the way she wheedled her way into our home, charmed the pants off my husband, while disassociating me; eventually to relegate him from top dog status and start luring me with her wily ways.
Astute; perceptive and beguiling - this was the hallmark of a battle of wills. One pussycat with a ‘don’t mess with me’ mentality, aspiring to rule the roost.
I’m keen to know how this will end, but you know what they say about curiosity and cats. And I do have green eyes!
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