He is there again this morning â€” that marmalade tabby who lives down the street. He is moving away from the streetlight in front of our house into the predawn darkness. I follow him to a tree at the edge of the field. I hear the screech of the nighthawk whose raucous call has disturbed my sleep for the last several nights. We cross the field. I smell dampness in the air and feel the wet weeds brushing against my trousers. The cat ignores the mice as they scurry for cover. We approach a wooden boathouse, which is backlit by the first rays of the sun coming up over the river.
The cat studies the moss-encrusted stones at the waterâ€™s edge. I kneel beside him. I clean the moss off a small translucent stone he is staring at and decide to take it home with me. He follows me back into the field. Now he goes after the mice snagging a laggard lulled into complacency by his previous disinterest.
I sit at my desk examining the stone. It is irregular and glows with a green fluorescence. The cat sits outside my window playing with the hapless field mouse. My wife is crying softly in the next room. She is grieving over a porcelain vase which had survived several generations with her family. It has fallen from her bedside table and shattered on the Mexican tile floor.
The sun is rising over our garden. The cat leaves the dead mouse for the hawk which is circling overhead and stares through the window at me. I follow him back across the street carrying the stone in my pocket. I take it out and throw it into the sun sparkled river. It skips once and lands midstream in a luminous eruption. The river, celebrating the return of its talisman, carries it to a new resting place.
The tabby and I return across the field. He leaves me, climbs the nighthawkâ€™s tree, and catches the tree frog, the one which has been screeching like a hawk.
The kitty is snacking on the frog as a summer shower breaks over us. I run for my front door.
During the storm my wife and I share a pot of green tea. The storm abates. On the internet we find a company in Atlanta which advertises the repair of shattered porcelain, â€œseamlesslyâ€.
The cat has wandered off down the street.
â€œWe shall sleep better tonight,â€ I say.
â€œAnd tomorrow,â€ my wife says, â€œwe should get our own cat.â€