Aladdin

Growing up, we had many, many pets.  However, most of them were for extremely brief periods of time.  Most of them were also cats.  But when my parents felt there needed to be a sacrifice made for them (IE: finding a place to live which was cat-friendly), they had to go.  I don’t know how much impact this had on my brothers.  The Boys didn’t seem to grasp it or feel it the way I did.  The devastation was real.  I know because I still feel it.  Not in the way you feel a distant memory.  I feel it as if it is fresh.  That pit in your stomach when you feel too sick to eat or sleep, that will catch me if I’m not careful.

My first love was Aladdin.  He was part of a set: Jasmine and Aladdin.  I do not know or sure who named Jasmine and Aladdin but I bet it was my mother and not one of us kids, despite the childish names.  I imagine this scenario being a dream for her:

“Oh, so which one of the kids loves ‘Aladdin’?”

My mom, “What do you mean?”

“Well, Jasmine and Aladdin- I can only assume…”

“OH!  HAHAHAHHAHAHSH *raucous laugher* No no no- Iiiii named them!”

“Well!  Isn’t that cute??”

My mother- she would do literally anything for the smallest bit of attention.  Even if it was the kind which made people question her maturity and sanity.  ANYWAY—

Jasmine and Aladdin came from my dad’s ex-wife.  They kept in touch, as they lived in the same city and shared three kids (all of which lived with her.)

I don’t remember much about Jasmine.  I think she might have been Aladdin’s mom or sister.  Aladdin, on the other hand, was my baby.  I picked him out of his litter.  They were mostly calico but somehow Aladdin ended up being white with a gray patch over his right eye and another on his back.  My dad tried to talk me into a prettier kitten but I was set on Aladdin.  He was fluffy and scruffy and he took to me quickly.  I think he knew I, too, was strange and unusual.  The first time I met him, he slept on my lap and played a game with my hand where I would tease him for one second and he would immediately scratch me until I bled.  What wasn’t to love?

I must have been around age six when we got Jasmine and Aladdin because Grammy had passed and my parents were down to get cats again.  We had them for less than a year, as a situation with the house caused us to have to leave.

In the short time we had Aladdin, I got into the habit of getting up around 4 a.m. and playing with him downstairs.  This would go on for a little while before we would fall asleep on the couch together, spoons-style.  I was the big spoon.  By the time we were getting rid of Aladdin, I was nearing seven years old and Aladdin—when stood on all fours—was eye-level with me.  Now, I was small for my age (around the height of the average five-and-a-half year old), but that was a huge cat.  And he wasn’t even full-grown.  This was full-body purr-filled spoons.

I remember the day he left really well.  I played with him one last time and cuddled him on the couch and cried and told him I loved him for so long I grew hoarse.  He licked my face and kneaded my shoulders.  When my dad took him away from me, I cried and screamed and cried and screamed.  But he insisted he had to to give him to the person from the pound and I should relax.  I watched the truck leave.  It was the first time I had my heart broken and it was the last time I was ever a morning person.

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Ready.

I awake in a familiar, uneasy state. It is my normal. When I see her face, I am brought back down. I remember everything we said and everything we did and I am at peace.

I think, “There is something different about her,” then I squash that cliche and I move to, “There is something I don’t understand about her.” Although a bit more melancholy, I find–to me–this suits her more.

I hold her a few minutes longer before quietly detaching myself from body and bed. I slip my pants on and wander out of the room, ready to investigate the morning.

Before I leave, I make coffee, enough for two, three cups for her, one for me. I rest the thermal carafe on her end table with a cup and a post-it which, while crudely drawn, I hope makes her smile.

I sneak out without waking her, turning to take her in one last time before disappearing into the biting coolness of winter.

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