“Which Way is Home?” by Lucy Goldberg

The two cats stalked each other in the night. They could smell each other, but they couldn’t see each other…. yet. One was a brown tabby, the other was white and black. This was the three hundred seventy fourth day since they met. This was also the three hundred seventy fourth day they fought.

“Hello, Fluffy,” the brown tabby she-cat purred, her voice sickly sweet.

“How many times do I have to tell you I changed my name?!” hissed the black and white tom.

“Apparently three hundred seventy four, and more to come. What was that stupid name again?” The tabby meowed.

“It wasn’t stupid! It was Nightfang, killer of mice!” hissed Fluffy, now Nightfang.

“Not stupid, Nightfang! HA!” the tabby yowled.

“At least it sounds better for a cat then Serafina, your named after the humans!” jeered the self-proclaimed Nightfang.

“What! No!” meowed Serafina.

“Human name! Human name!” laughed Nightfang.

“Shut up, Fluff Brain!” growled Serafina.

“Human name! Human name!”

“I’m warning you…” Serafina began to circle Nightfang who was too busy laughing to notice.

“Human name! Human name!” cackled Nightfang. That was it. Serafina leaped onto Nightfang and the two house cats fought in fury of teeth and claws. The screeching aroused a human from inside the house they were in front of. She emerged in her night gown infuriated.

“Stupid cats! Get away! Go on, shoo!” she yelled. She grabbed a newspaper from her doorstep and chased Serafina and Nightfang down the street into the woods. Finally satisfied, the human headed back for her house.

“That was close,” puffed Serafina.

“Yeah, enough for the night, let’s just go home,” agreed Nightfang.

“Deal,” meowed Serafina. But Nightfang had realized something.

“Uh, Serafina…. which way is home?” Nightfang asked, his voice shaking.

Half an hour later Serafina still hadn’t found the way home.

“No! No! No! It’s this way, no it’s this way, wait I haven’t checked this way yet!” she kept meowing. Nightfang sat on a boulder watching her.

“Face it, we’re never getting home and it’s your fault,” he meowed. Serafina skidded to a halt.

“My fault? My fault?!” she asked angrily. Nightfang rose.

“Yes kitty, your fault, if you hadn’t called me Fluffy-” he began.

“It was your name! And don’t call me kitty!” protested Serafina.

“I’ve been telling you for four seasons that isn’t my name! Kitty!” spat Nightfang.

“Never. Call. Me. KITTY!” yelled Serafina and she jumped on Nightfang dodged and tried to slice back.

“Can’t fight too tired,” he admitted.

“Yeah, me too,” Serafina meowed.

“Let’s rest and then you better believe we’ll settle this later!” hissed Nightfang.

“I suggest we sleep next to each other,” Serafina meowed grudgingly.

“What?” asked Nightfang.

“You heard me, I don’t want to move an inch from here, and I doubt you do either, any step we take could be in the wrong direction,” Serafina meowed matter-of-factly.

“It could be a step in the right direction,” pointed out Nightfang.

“That’s not a chance I’m willing to take tonight,” meowed Serafina.

“Alright, but just for tonight,” meowed Nightfang. That night it didn’t take Serafina nor Nightfang any time at all to fall asleep. However, it didn’t take Nightfang very long to wake up, Serafina on the other hand was a different matter. The sun was up by the time she stirred Nightfang was standing over her a mouse in his jaws. He lay the mouse by her feet and prodded her with his paw.

“Wake up sleepy kitty,” he hissed prodding her.

“Is that for me?” she asked groggily.

“Yes, and wake up you’re no help to me starved or asleep,” meowed Nightfang coldly.

“I suppose you think I can’t hunt for myself?” demanded Serafina.

“Yes, neither do I think you can find your way home, so I am supporting you. You’re welcome,” meowed Nightfang.

“Stuck up little flea-brain,” muttered Serafina under her breath.

“I heard that, it’s time to go,” mewed Nightfang.

“Where?” asked Serafina.

“Not here, I suggest we go left,” Nightfang meowed.

“You’re not in charge! I went this way and I don’t think we should go this way-”

Serafina began.

“Too bad! We’re going this way!” Nightfang retorted. They walked along the leaves and Serafina was thinking Nightfang might have been right about something for once in his miserable existence when she heard a low growl.

“Fox!” she yowled, too late. Nightfang screamed but Serafina held her ground. “You’re not getting out that easily!” she hissed.

“I’d like to see you fight this thing!” yowled Nightfang turning tail. The fox lunged for Nightfang, Serafina watched. “What are you standing there for?!” asked Nightfang, eyes blazing, “help!” Serafina just stood there contemplating out loud.

“It would be cruel not to, but he is a pain in the tail….” she meowed to herself.

“Make a decision!” hissed Nightfang, the fox had pinned him to a tree.

“Fine!” Serafina launched herself at the fox and bit down on its shoulder, the fox swiped back but Serafina nimbly dodged and slashed at its tail. The fox ran away and Nightfang wasn’t hurt. Serafina couldn’t decide whether that was a good or bad thing.

“Thanks,” Nightfang meowed plainly.

“That’s not a lot of gratitude for someone who saved your life,” Serafina commented tail twitching.

“Is this better?” Nightfang moved toward in fake adoration, “oh thank you mighty savior! How’d you learn to fight like that?” he meowed sarcastically. Serafina looked him straight in the eyes.

“From you actually, the second time we fought you went for the shoulder then the tail,” she meowed curtly. Nightfang froze in his tracks.

“Let’s go this way,” he suggested.

“Fine,” Serafina grunted. But they didn’t squabble. In fact over time they got used to each other.  Further along their chosen path Serafina proved she could hunt by bringing down a black bird.

“I can hunt!” she grunted at Nightfang.

“I never doubted you,” meowed Nightfang.

“Sure . . .” hissed Serafina sarcastically.

“It’s true! I was just uh… motivating you!” Nightfang meowed desperately.

“Whatever you say Nightfang,” Serafina meowed flicking him with her tail.

“You-you said my name! You never say my name!” Nightfang meowed happily. Serafina said nothing. Nightfang went on until eventually they found two paths.

“Well, which one do we choose?” asked Serafina.

“How about that way?” Nightfang asked pointing left.

“Why not?” asked Serafina. The two cats continued walking on the path. That night they prepared to stop when Serafina brought a problem to Nightfang’s attention.

“Nightfang, this is where we started!” she hissed angrily.

“It is not!” retorted Nightfang, then he saw the boulder he had been sitting on, “Okay maybe it is.”

“You wanted to go this direction!” hissed Serafina.

“You followed me!” argued Nightfang.

“I trusted you!” spat Serafina, “and you led us in a complete circle!”

“That’s not important,” Nightfang meowed after a pause.

“Then what is?” Serafina demanded.

“Where home is,” responded Nightfang curtly. Then Serafina saw something.

“Look there it is!” the neighborhood they had left was on the other side of a large brown fence.

“It was right there all along . . .” muttered Nightfang angrily.

“I thought the fence was a tree it was dark!” Serafina defended.

“Sure, whatever you say, let’s just go home!” Nightfang meowed quietly.

“Okay,” Serafina meowed. They jumped on the fence and jumped down.

“See ya,” Nightfang meowed.

“Bye,” Serafina meowed a trace of regret in her face. Then they turned and went toward their homes. But when Serafina arrived where her humans lived, she wasn’t welcomed. The human who had been calmly killing grass with his cutting machine turned to her and hissed.

“Ew! Get away filthy alley cat!” he shrieked.

“Wait what? It’s me! Serafina! Your cat!” Serafina meowed in terror.

“Go away!” the human shrieked again. Serafina ran into the road toward Nightfang’s home. She found the black and white cat running toward her.

“Are you a ‘filthy alley cat’ too?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she meowed sadly.

“Well, do you want to go back to the forest?” Nightfang asked.

“There was good hunting there and shelter,” Serafina meowed.

“Great!” Nightfang meowed wrapping his tail in hers.

“I guess this way is home,” meowed Serafina as they walked toward the forest.

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