Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Colorado Circus Kitten Comes to Kansas City

By Christina Harlin, with creative assistance from Jake C. Harlin

We’ve had many special guest bloggers this month in the form of our beloved animal companions. In that spirit I did a virtual unearthing of this story I wrote for my son when he was eight. We adopted our cat Magic from the local shelter and made a game of wondering what adventures he’d experienced before he came into our lives. This story was the result of our combined imaginations. Forgive me this little bit of schmaltz.

There are two important things to know about cats. The first is that all cats are gossips. They talk to each other about everything and everykitty, passing stories along so every cat in the world knows what’s happening to every other cat. The second is that each cat knows at least one magic trick. I know one orange tabby who makes people laugh, one white Persian who makes cookies disappear, and a very slinky Siamese who causes books to fall from shelves.

Our kitten was born in Colorado, to a family of circus cats that performed great tricks. They could balance on bicycles, ride ponies and twirl hula hoops. Our small kitten had big triangle ears and a long, long tail, with black spots on his tummy, grey stripes on his back and so many silvery colors in his fur that he seemed to sparkle. This was his special trick. He could make things sparkle, whether it was stars in the sky, or lights on a Christmas tree, or glitter on a birthday card. But nobody at the circus thought this trick was very special, because these things were already sparkly. The kitten’s trick only made them sparkle more. Most people were unable to see the difference.

So our kitten was not a big star in the circus. He helped carry costumes and clean up the circus sawdust. Before each performance, he said “Merow” and made all the costumes sparkle brightly so that all who came to the circus were dazzled. Our kitten loved his trick and loved to see the twinkling lights make the people happy.

As the crowds came and went, stories from cats all over the world came to the kitten and his family. They heard about lucky cats rescued from trees or crawlspaces, talented cats who appeared on television, and kind cats who took care of sick people. One day our kitten heard a story that made his ears prick up with interest. A black-and-white cat had a cousin-cat that lived next door to a little family in Kansas City. The family was us: a father and a mother, and a little boy. We were very happy together in our little house except for one thing. We had an empty spot that needed to be filled by something bright and sparkly.

When our kitten heard of our problem, he made a big decision. That night he said goodbye to all of his cat family, and promised he would keep in touch through the long network of gossipy cats. Everyone was amazed that such a tiny kitten would strike out on an adventure like this, but our kitten knew he was needed, and he was very stubborn, and nothing could stop him.

Our kitten leapt aboard a cattle train that was heading for Kansas City, and here he rode among the feet of the lumbering cows, who shared milk with him when he got hungry. It was a long way from the mountains of Colorado to the place where our family lived, through the broad, flat state of Kansas, covered with cornfields. He watched the long golden fields roll past him all through the next day. He said “Merow” as the high stalks of corn flew by, so the sun glittered off their silky tops. Everyone in Kansas was amazed by the light, and said it was the prettiest day they could ever remember.

The plains became dotted with trees and green hills rose up, showing our kitten he was almost in Missouri. The train crossed a thundering river. After that came buildings and bridges, and at last he hopped off the train in Kansas City. In no time at all he found a raggedy-eared old tabby who told him the way to the animal shelter.

The next couple of days were the hardest part of the trip for our kitten. Though the people at the shelter were kind, he shared a kennel with three other kittens so there wasn’t much room, and not much for a kitten to do, and not much that he could make sparkle. Though he heard through cat gossip that our little family would be coming soon to find a kitten, time seemed to pass very slowly.

Finally on a hot bright Saturday, our kitten woke up to see our family walk in, and he stood and stretched and yawned, tired, but very happy to see us. Right away we saw our spotty, stripy, sparkly kitten. We let him out of the kennel to scratch his chin and his big triangle ears. He let us know his name was Magic.

In his new home Magic played fetch with our little boy, kept our tummies warm, chased away the hopping crickets, and made our family laugh every day. We noticed that our Christmas tree was shinier, that our windows made more prisms, and even our neighborhood sidewalks had more twinkly sunlight in them, every time Magic said “Merow.” We told him, “That is a wonderful trick!” Magic was very pleased that we could see the difference. Now when he sends messages to his circus cat family, Magic makes sure to pass along stories of homes that need special kittens, so that all kittens can find the places they belong.

10 comments:

  1. Hi everybody. I just want to let you know that I'll be traveling today so might not be able to get on and respond to comments until later tonight. Also, I'm assuming that when I get to my destination I'll be able to access an Internet connection . . . so anyway if you don't hear back from me right away, don't be offended! I promise I'll be back on as soon as I can. Thanks for your patience with me and my laptop.

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  2. This is absolutely lovely. I don't know when I've found any story so completely charming.

    Everybody knows how to complain about what's wrong, and see the tragedy of life. It's much harder--and much more valuable--to see the everyday magic.

    You remind me that I once had a dog with a talent for lying on the floor. You had not seen floor-lying until you saw his.

    Thanks. You and magic made my day.

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  3. Thanks for a lovely story, Christina. I enjoyed reading about your magical cat. I'll have to tell you Consuela and Roscoe's story some time soon.

    I too am traveling for the next week for work and then on to San Fran for RWA. I will try to continue to pop in every day to say hello!

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  4. Wonderful story Christina, Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

    Robin :)

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  5. GREAT post, Christina!

    I love your magical, sparkly kitten, Magic! How lucky for your family that he found you. I feel the same way about my Pug wa-wa, whom I rescued from the animal shelter. She picked me!

    Safe travels,
    AC

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  6. Great story Christina! Hope you're having a nice trip :)

    Danielle

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  7. Thanks for your nice comments, all. It was my son who came up with the charming idea that our cat must have been part of a circus family, because of his uncanny ability to balance and his showmanship. I just had to figure out how a circus cat made it all the way to us.

    Mary Margret - I know exactly what you mean about the talents of dogs, who can turn the simplest actions (or lack thereof) into an art form.

    Marie - I can't wait to hear about Roscoe and Consuela.

    Robin - You're welcome for the sharing, and thank you for reading!

    Aunty Cindy - I too believe that wonderful animals are to be found at the shelter, who can add so much to the lives of the lucky people who find them.

    Danielle - Thanks for dropping in and reading it, and yes, my trip is going very nicely. But it has taken me quite a while to get access to the Internet, as I suspected it might.

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  8. Christina,
    Cute cat story! I missed this one when I was checking the blogs after working for a couple of nights. Brain-dead, I suppose.
    So, you're working while on vacation?

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  9. Hi Cheryl! Yes, I am working on vacation, or at least I'm trying to, but for all the trouble one takes to get a good laptop and a wireless modem and all that (helped much by a tech-savvy husband) you can still run into technical difficulties. Gosh, I just want these things to work when I turn them on! Is that too much to ask? Oh, sorry, went off the deep end there. I meant to say, "Thanks for your comment!" (grin plastered to face as I desperately try to remember my Internet passwords).

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  10. Christina,
    I know EXACTLY what you mean! When I turn my computer on, it should work perfectly! No glitchy Internet, no lost files, it should be PERFECT! Thanks to my resident computer whiz, it works most of the time, but the IP people don't always cooperate!
    Hope you're having fun!

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