Enchanted by the very thought of growing older, young Martha often sat in the bay window watching Andy and Angie trot off to school. She would watch; she would wonder. The big kids, as she called them, enveloped the brother and sister and then, together, disappeared in a big yellow bus. Someday she would be one of the smiling faces riding drown the road.
Raymond, the milkman, lugged a carton stocked with Mom’s milk up the walk and onto the porch. One quart, sometimes two, were placed in a silvery-gray box by the door. Martha enjoyed sipping milk in the afternoon with her mother. She watched as the man in the puffy white uniform climbed back in his truck, wrenched his gears and chugged away. Maybe someday I’ll be a milkman, she considered.
Her eyes widened at the sight of Sir Hun. Pouncing on all fours, the wrinkled faced bulldog walked with an attitude. Pity the poor squirrel that captured his attention. Sir Hun would bolt; the squirrel would scram and shimmy up the leafy oak, then scold the barking brute for disrupting its day. Martha would never go there, she decided. She didn’t want to be chased up a tree. And she certainly did not want to be a bulldog.
The birds captured her attention. She didn’t know why. She didn’t want to be a bird. She wanted to have a bird. She would sit for hours staring intently as they sang silly choruses then flitted away into the air. One would leave; another would come. Martha continued her vigil until the warm sun flushed the room with robust warmth. She lay silently on her side, precariously perched atop the sofa, and fell quietly to sleep.
There was a scurrying sound in the corner. Martha’s eyes opened wide, her little head snapped to attention. She crouched low, eyes silently fixed on the a small brown thing across the room. It wasn’t a bird; it was a mouse. And that she could have. Now!
She launched from her perch and darted across the floor. The little creature disappeared somewhere, somehow, into the wall. Martha stood silent; a living statue of flesh, blood and fur. She crouched again.
Just then her mother walked into the room, arching her yellow back as she rubbed against the rocker. Together, they stared at the opening in the wall. Nothing was moving. The mouse was gone.
Within moments both mother and daughter were together, stretched atop the sofa. Basking in rays of warmth, they comforted one another with laps of their tiny tongues.
“Someday you’ll leave this house to have a home of your own,” Martha’s mother purred. “You be a fine mouser.”
“But I don’t want to be a mouser,” Martha complained. “I want to be a child and ride the yellow bus; or drive a white and yellow truck, or bring letters and packages to peoples’ homes.”
Her mother smiled; an expression of simplicity acknowledged her daughter’s naiveté.
“You can’t be a child, or a milkman or a postman,” her voice was deep and her tone confident. “You can only be what you can be.”
“And what can I be?” Martha rolled on her back to stare at a spider weaving an unwanted web in the corner of the room.
“You can only be a cat because that is what your are designed to be.”
Martha turned her head, again, toward the window. It was the birds. She just couldn’t keep from watching; wanting to pounce. But she turned her head too far and fell off the sofa with a fur-softened thud.
Her mother nestled her head against her paw, yawned and closed her eyes. “Be happy being what you are, Martha; not what someone else is. Be what God designed you be.”
Martha stood quickly, her eyes wide open from the shock of the sudden drop. An encroaching cockroach sauntered from under the sofa, six amusing little legs scampered toward the kitchen.
“I want to be a bug,” Martha purred.