Blossom the Cat Goes to the Movies

Blossom Goes to the Movies

Mr. and Mrs. Hatcher were taking Willow out to Buca for dinner and then to a Pixar film.  Riley, Blossom’s best feline friend forever, was staying at the Hatchers’ home overnight so his family could attend an out-of-town wedding.

It had happened by accident, but Blossom recently stumbled over the kitchen’s 15-inch flat screen’s remote while on a mission to find some little snack on the countertop.  Her toe had clumsily pressed the remote’s top button, turning the TV on.  She’d figured how the arrowed buttons switched channels and, as fate would have it, she’d come upon a program about searing salmon filets.

Blossom almost turned inside out waiting for her family to leave, so she could demonstrate her flat screen skills for Riley.  This was one of the smartest things she’d ever discovered.  She felt her furry head growing bigger as she importantly pressed the remote’s buttons.  The programs flipped by.  Wheel of Fortune, Nickelodeon, DIY.  Where did the food channel go?  Hmm.

Riley looked on patiently.  “We could be watching On Demand, if you know what I mean.”

Blossom felt her Meow Moment folding.  “I know there’s a culinary fish show out there somewhere.”  She was trying her best not to be catty as she knew it was bad manners and Riley was a sleepover guest.

“Let me try.”  Riley spread his big toes over the remote and ground his footpad into the big red button in the middle.  Something flashed on the screen.  “See, look at the TV now.”  It was his turn to sound a bit show-offy.

Neither of them knew how to read but there were little pictures next to each title listed.  Blossom recognized the tawny colored cat wearing a red and yellow cape in one of them.   “Captain Cat! Let’s watch Captain Cat!”

Riley hit the remote’s button labeled OK and, just like that, the movie rolled.  They sat back on the tiled floor and stared up at the screen.  Blossom had seen this Captain Cat movie before with Willow.

When the movie finished, Blossom crowed, “I want to see another!”  This On Demand was the greatest invention since Fancy Feast Medleys.  They needed a snack to go with their movie viewing.  Yesterday in the pantry, hadn’t she spotted that cheese that squiggled from a can?

Riley hit the next Captain Cat title.  “This Captain Cat movie is brand new.  You can only watch it if you hit the RENT or BUY button.”  He looked at Blossom like they were about to pull buttons from a couch.  “At my house we can only watch two RENT movies in a week.”

Blossom knew her family only watched FREE movies but she really, really, really wanted to see another Captain Cat movie.  “Maybe if we only watch the beginning and turn it off, it will still be FREE.”  She looked at Riley for agreement.

That sounds logical, if you know what I mean,” said Riley.

Blossom and Riley watched the whole movie.

“That Captain Cat is a hoot,” hollered Blossom, rolling around on the floor.  It was definitely time for some squiggle cheese.

After that movie ended, Blossom said, “So what should we watch now?” There were no more Captain Cat flicks.

Riley tapped the up arrow, advancing more titles.  “Stop!”  Blossom cried.  She couldn’t spell but she did know the word CAT and had seen it flash by.  Riley tapped the down arrow.

“There it is!  There it is!”  Blossom’s toes were a-tingle.

Riley’s furry forehead wrinkled up.  “Z-o-m-b-i-e Cats,” he slowly sounded out the word.  “Not sure what that is but it’s another one of those RENT movies.”

“Go for it!”  This was going to be a movie night to remember.  Blossom trotted into the pantry, jumped onto the second shelf and knocked the can of squiggle cheese to the floor. It made a tinny sound as its plastic cap flew off.  Orangey colored cheese squiggled straight up like a frightened snake.  Strings of cheese landed on the pantry door and the floor and clung in ribbons from the pantry shelves.  The remaining cheese continued to squiggle into a big pile on the bottom shelf until nothing but air came out of the sprayer.

Holy cat chow,” said Blossom.  “We’ll never be able to eat all of this.”  She was feeling a little itchy, hoping the squiggle cheese incident wouldn’t earn her a time-out in the basement.

Riley’s eyes had turned to slits. “Blossom, this zombie cat movie is R.  We can only watch PG movies at our house.”

“Us too,” said Blossom.  “Mr. H told Willow she couldn’t watch R movies until she was as old as he was.”

Riley’s face lit.  “But we’re three years old and every year is six human years, so we must be way older than Willow.  How old do you think Mr. H is?”

“I think 100,” said Blossom.  She had no idea how old Mr. H was but something clawed at her cat gut, telling her Mr. H was not an R kind of guy anyway.  Maybe they should stop watching movies and try to eat up all that squiggle cheese.  Blossom hated time-outs in the basement.  Once she thought she saw a troll hiding behind the laundry tub.

Riley hit the RENT button anyway and the movie began.  It definitely did not have the colorful settings or beautiful costumes of the Captain Cat variety.  In this movie, cats were prowling all over the place and their eyes glowed.

Blossom caught herself cocking her head at the screen.

Riley did the same.  “Whoa!” he said.  “Is that cat eating a human hand?”

Blossom felt the fur on her neck standing straight out.

“He is!” Riley nodded his head.  “Blossom, he’s eating a human hand!  That would be like you eating one of Willow’s body parts!”

Blossom lay down and put her paws over her ears.  “Stop it, Riley!  Don’t say those things!  Ick!  I don’t want to watch this!”  Through her paws, she could hear the zombie cat chewing.  And the cats that weren’t eating were howling.  Words out of nowhere winked like fireflies in Blossom’s brain.  Wild.  Rabid.  Feral.

Riley lay down as well.  His paws covered his eyes.  “This is too scary!” he cried.  “Turn it off!  I’m going to have nightmares!”

Blossom knew the right thing to do was turn the TV off.  But she was too scared to move.  She looked over at Riley, flattened to the floor like a rug.

First looking behind her, Blossom pounced upon the remote, repeatedly smacking it with her paw.  How could an evening that started out fun as mice bowling turn into something as ugly as clumped litter?  The TV would not shut off so she whacked the remote across the floor.  It hit the fridge and made a cracking noise.  Two batteries popped out, making her jump.  The batteries continued rolling around on the tile like they were alive.  This made Blossom feel jumpy as a bunny.  And she couldn’t stop checking behind her like a zombie cat might be there.

A piercing squeak sounded out the kitchen window.  Blossom shot off the floor.  Riley had already bolted down the hall into Willow’s bedroom.  Blossom tore after him and they both scooted under Willow’s bed, listening to their hearts leaping about like popcorn.

There were more squeaks and rattles and Blossom had to shut her mug tight for fear her heart might hop up her throat and onto the floor.  Riley shook as if he’d had too much DQ.

The walls began to vibrate with a low hum.  Blossom sighed.  It was the garage door opener!  The Hatchers were home!

Her heart settled down so she opened her mouth.  Everyone was safe.  Pretty much.  If the zombie cats really were out there, Mr. and Mrs. H might be dog biscuits, but not Willow.  Willow was clever, she’d outsmart the zombie cats.

Blossom heard Willow’s feet padding down the hall.  Mr. H out in the kitchen questioned why the TV was on and the remote on the floor.

Blossom could almost see Mrs. H roll her eyes as she said, “Have we ever left Blossom and come home to find everything as it should be?”  Mrs. H could probably destroy a zombie cat with her icy eyeball look.

“Blossom,” Riley whispered.  “We shouldn’t have watched that movie.  I’m still scared under the bed!”

“It could be worse,” Blossom whispered back.  She could be in the basement with zombie cats and trolls.

“What did I tell you?  Look at this cheese mess!”  Blossom listened to Mrs. H stomp her feet across the kitchen floor, huffing and puffing like life was throwing her lemons.

Under the bed, Blossom meowed a little prayer of thanks.  She wouldn’t get a time-out in the basement while Riley was here.  Hopefully Mrs. H would be in better spirits in the morning.

Blossom the Cat Makes Pancakes

Blossom the Cat Makes PancakesAlready prepared pancake batter in a carton was the cat’s meow, according to Mr. Hatcher.  Mrs. Hatcher had been called to jury duty this week and the next and it was Mr. H’s job to make breakfast for Willow.  Blossom knew Mr. H was an artist at heart.  His pancakes were fun little creations with chocolate chips for eyes or a banana slice nose.  However, paws down, Mrs. H had the corner on cleanup in the kitchen, as Blossom quickly spotted.

Mrs. H had left the house early to make it to the courthouse by 8:00 am.  Blossom chuckled to herself as Willow scurried off to school, then Mr. H on Willow’s tail out the door and off to work.  Placemats had been put away, dirty dishes in the dishwasher, countertops wiped clean.  However, the carton of pancake batter, spout still open, and butter, had been left sitting near the washed and dried electric griddle.  Tsk! Tsk! Mr. H, Blossom shook her head.  Sun filtering through the kitchen curtains, Blossom decided today she would put on her chef hat and whip up a little pancakes with butter.  Maybe she’d even haul her finished masterpiece over to the family kitchen table and have a little brunch party on it. She jumped onto the countertop to get started.

Blossom was quite expert at tossing her favorite toy, Chip, flying through the air.  In the same fashion she used both paws to hoist the almost empty batter container up, dumping the remaining contents onto the clean griddle.  The batter splashed and spread out in a not quite pancake shape, forming more of a blob with spiderish fingers running in all directions.  The expected sizzle that comes with batter hitting the pan did not happen. Feeling quite pleased anyway with her pouring technique, Blossom waited for the bubbles to form on its surface and the room to fill with the smell of pancake.

Puzzled that none of this was occurring, Blossom donned her thinking cap.  Something was surely missing.  Aha!  It was the hum of the electric griddle.  Blossom inspected the pancake griddle.  It was plugged into the outlet.  But what was this dial?  Pressing a toe against the dial’s side, it slowly turned.  A little red light glowed and the griddle began to hum. She turned the dial some more.

Tiny bubbles appeared on the pancake’s top, a sign it was baking.  But wait! Something was still amiss.  The pancake needed a face. Oh dear, she’d forgotten to add a face!  Leaping to the floor, scampering to her food dish, Blossom grabbed a mouthful of Meow Mix and returned to her project.  So much kibble felt dry in her mouth.  It stuck to her mouth’s insides and didn’t want to come out.  She had to perform a good hairball hurl and hack! the food bits shot from her mug, speckling the pancake.  The kibble design looked more like polka dots than a smiley face.  Blossom wished she had monkey fingers to do some rearranging but, no matter.  Extending a paw toward the batter, now really bubbling, she figured she could adjust a few pieces.  Her toe touched the pancake.  “Singing salamanders!” she meowed, quickly withdrawing her paw.  It was like pressing a toe to sun-baked asphalt!

But giving her toe a quick lick, brushing aside the pain, Blossom felt truly thankful for her thinking cap because that day she discovered the formula to pancake making.  More humming equaled more bubbles and more bubbles equaled more pancake smell.  She also had to ponder was she just so hungry she’d flipped her Friskies or was it really roasting up here on the Hatcher countertop?

Something else wasn’t right.  The pancake was not turning golden brown on top.  She ticked off in her head the pancake making items that Mr. H had used.  Chocolate chips, bananas, an apron.  Hmm.  Bingo!  The solution zapped her like a June bug in the night.  Blossom couldn’t help but squeal at her smartness.  She needed a pancake flipper.  The pancake needed to be turned!  Only Mr. H must have filed the flipper in the dishwasher.  Blossom doubted she could have used one anyway, lacking a set of monkey fingers.  Maybe if she turned the griddle’s hummer up, the top would turn the lovely golden brown it was supposed to be.

Once again, turning the dial knocked the griddle’s hum up an octave.  Now the griddle was almost as loud as the fridge.  But the pancake sure smelled like a pancake, the kibble riddling its surface, dancing around as the bubbles formed and popped.  The whole thing quivered about like a frying egg.  It was looking yummy except the lovely pancake odor soon turned to something more like pizza crumbs turning black on the oven’s floor.  The pancake’s spidery legs became charred as burnt matchsticks. If Blossom made her eyes into slits, she could faintly see ripples of heat rising from her masterpiece.  And smoke.

Smoke?  Holy cat chow! She’d end up at the Pet Rescue for sure if she set the kitchen on fire!  With one expert move her toes gripped the griddle’s dial and turned and turned until the humming stopped altogether. Blossom let out a sigh. The smoke and smell dissolved like old mouse remains. The pancake stared up at her from its pan, the bits of kibble blackened as ancient raisins.  Its appearance and smell did not excite Blossom’s taste buds.  Not one bit.  She huffed.  None of this would have happened had she possessed monkey fingers.  And because she didn’t have monkey fingers, she couldn’t fetch the crispy pancake from the pan and deposit it in the trash.  Oh well, it wasn’t a complete success but then Willow always said pancakes were too much work anyway and why not eat Eggos instead?  All Blossom truly hoped for was that Mr. H or Willow returned home that night before Mrs. Hatcher did or all their butts would be in the doghouse.

Blossom sat on the countertop surveying the room.  It smelled a little like overcooked pancakes.  But with the happy sun streaming through the kitchen window on this most wonderful day and an almost full plate of butter sitting on the counter, she stretched and meowed loudly to no one in particular, “Carpe diem!”*  Then she seated herself for a breakfast of butter without pancakes.

* Latin, meaning Seize the Day!


Blossom the Cat Has a Party

Blossom Has a Party

In honor of Blossom’s birthday, Willow invited four of her neighborhood girlfriends and their pets to celebrate.  The pets included Riley, Blossom’s best feline friend forever, Merle, the bulldog whose yard backed up to the Hatcher’s yard, and Sheba, the rich glamour kitten who lived next to Merle.  Finley, the terrier who lived across the street, was the fourth pet guest.  Blossom didn’t often talk with Finley, partly because she would have to cross Tulip Drive to see him but mostly because Finley was shy and never woofed a word.

Willow was a great hostess for a pet party. Each pet place setting included a teacup filled with kibble. And Willow had whipped up a birthday cake using three cans of Fancy Feast mixed with peanut butter. Yum!

As the guests arrived, Blossom could not contain her excitement seeing the wrapped gifts piling up at the front door.  What could they be?  Toys?  Food?  This was like Christmas!

Riley ate the kibble and cake and then stared at the leftovers.  Merle ate a few bites of Meow Mix to be polite.  Finley was silent.  Blossom just wanted her gifts.

“Dry food, are these apps?” Sheba’s nose went wrinkly the way it did when her fancy head swelled.  “Willow made the cake I hear.  Not store bought?”

Blossom felt a growl coming on and wondered why Sheba’s family didn’t pack up and move to Hollywood.  But her Meow Moment was fast approaching and she didn’t care if they dined on ant legs or Alpo.  This was what she had waited for from the time Willow first prepped for the party.

The girls moved the gifts to the center of the room.  “Open your presents, Blossom,” Willow said.

“Pick mine!” said Riley, putting his paw on the smallest of the gifts, bundled in a paper towel.

Blossom had to hold the gift down with one paw but was able to shred most of the paper toweling with the other.  Willow kept poking a hand in to help, to the point Blossom just lay on top of the gift so Willow would back off.  Smelling the catnip fumes beneath her, she popped up and quick finished the unwrapping.  Inside was a blueberry-colored felt mouse with a jingle bell tail.

“Oh Riley! That’s awesome,” Blossom meowed.

Riley’s eyes lit like diamonds.  “I picked it out myself at Petco, where the pets go.”

Boy, if cool felt mice came in such small packages, Blossom’s brain buzzed with what might be in all the larger ones.

“Do mine next!” Merle did a little hop around a longish almost shoe-sized box.

“No, me!” Sheba had a rather snarly voice and a gift in an even larger box than Merle’s.

But Blossom eyed the smallest of the three remaining presents.  “Should I open your gift, Finley?”

Finley blinked three times at Blossom but said nothing.  Finley had about as much personality as a toad but he did bring a not completely small gift, so Blossom decided to be kind and tore into it.  Willow had to remove the lid as it had been scotch-taped together and, upon opening, had to remove tons of tissue paper.

“Oh, this is just lovely, Finley!” Willow said.  Blossom tried to nose her way into the box.  After all, it was her gift, not Willow’s.  “Just adorable,” Willow added, taking it out. The other girls gathered round, oohing and aahing, leaving Blossom on the outside.  Willow gently set the gift at Blossom’s feet.  It was a framed photo of Finley.

Blossom had to screw her lips tight knowing it would be very bad manners to blurt out, “What?” but that was exactly what she was thinking.  Where was she going to put that, next to her sleeping basket?  Better yet, her litter box, but then she wouldn’t want Finley watching her do her private stuff.

“Oh Finley, you handsome dog,” Sheba meowed cutely.  Riley and Blossom side-eyed each other.

Blossom decided to open Merle’s gift next.  It was even wrapped in red paper with little kitties all over it.  Before her claws had shred the paper halfway, she knew she recognized that pink box beneath the wrapping as she’d seen it at Willow’s own parties.

“A Barbie doll,” she croaked.

“Red Carpet Barbie!” squealed Willow and her friends.

Whose party was this anyway?  It was beginning to feel like Willow’s.  Blossom felt her mug scrunching into an ugly line but she couldn’t unscrunch it.  “Merle, what am I supposed to do with a Barbie doll?”

Merle’s furry brow crinkled up in a hurt expression.  Blossom could have bit her tongue off.  Merle was the sweetest bulldog in the whole world but, hello, not even dogs played Barbies.

“Lack of courtesy killed the cat!” sniffed Sheba.

Sometimes Blossom wished someone would rubber band Sheba’s mouth shut.  Now she felt double-dog bad.  “I’m sorry, Merle.”

Merle barked.  “No worries, Blossom! I love my Barbie.  She has chewy legs, almost like rawhide.”

“Perfect!  I’ve always needed a good chew toy.” Blossom put on her fake happy cat look, anything for Merle, and proceeded to attack the last and largest gift from Sheba.

As the shreds of sparkly paper fell away, Blossom thought about Sheba’s owners who ate steak every Saturday night, according to Sheba anyway. They were the only family on Tulip Drive with a built-in sprinkler system and two cars with no dings, dents or missing paint.  And Sheba’s owners took her to Cat Couture once a month to have her toenails clipped and painted. So Sheba’s gift had to be worth a million bucks.  The gift was almost unwrapped, leaving a heap of sparkles and glitter resembling solid gold kitty litter.

The box was from Cat Couture. Blossom’s heart ticked quickly.  What was inside?  Maybe a stuffed toy bigger than Riley’s mouse?  Cans of organic cat food?  Or, Blossom held her breath. Willow removed the lid.  The box was almost big enough. . . for a bed?  Blossom’s toes tingled at the thought of sleeping in silk sheets.

Willow gasped.  The others crowded round.  Sheba pointed her nose skyward the way she always did when she knew she’d outdone every pet between Tulip Drive and the freeway.  Willow held the contents up for all to see.  It was an outfit.  Clothes.  Cat clothes and attached to it, Blossom gulped, a hat.

“A princess outfit.”  Willow sighed lovingly at Blossom.  Blossom knew that look and felt her cat cookies crumbling in the pit of her stomach.  Her head felt itchy and she wasn’t even sporting that pointy princess hat yet.

“Medieval meow, if you know what I mean.” Riley was in his jokey mood.

Blossom stared at the shiny pink dress, the skirt made of scratchy mesh.  The hat with a snappy chin band.  Everything about it spelled tight.  Blossom was meowless.

Sheba, mistaking Blossom’s look of horror for one of awe, crowed, “See, she likes my gift best!”

Finley opened his mug but nothing came out.

“No she doesn’t,” huffed Riley.  “Blossom doesn’t want to wear polyester on a hot day like today.”

“A princess dress sure beats a blue mouse,” Sheba hissed.

“He only meant,” Merle began, trying to smooth things over.

“What was that, Barbie Doll?” Sheba snarled.

Blossom gasped.  Sheba must have gotten out of the wrong side of her sleeping basket this morning. She needed to quickly don her thinking cap before a brawl broke out.  Hadn’t something similar happened at one of Willow’s parties?  Mr. H called it one-upping.  He’d taken Willow aside and told her there was only one way out.

“I love all my gifts equally,” Blossom meowed, even though she really only liked Riley’s.

The barks of resentment and meows of anger ended.  There was a silence like that after a mousetrap snapping.

Finley sighed, more sound than Blossom had ever heard from him.

“I’m sorry.” Riley stared at the floor.

“Me too,” said Merle.

Sheba looked to her owner, Francesca, who along with Willow and the others had emerged from the bedroom with Willow’s favorite doll, Samantha. “Sometimes Francesca gets a time-out for being too full of herself. . .” Sheba didn’t finish the sentence.

Maybe Blossom was being a little too full of herself just then, but this was a way better Meow Moment than the feeling she’d had anticipating her birthday gifts.  At least everyone was happy.

Blossom looked to the girls, giggling at the prospect of trying to fit the princess dress, Blossom’s princess dress, onto Samantha and sighed herself.  Another dress for Samantha.  Good, that’s where it belonged.

Blossom the Cat Rides a School Bus

Blossom Rides a School Bus

It was customary for Mr. Hatcher’s fanny pack to take up residence on the kitchen table for at least a week after the Hatchers had visited the State Fair.  Eventually Mrs. H would pluck the pack from its place and fling it onto some unimportant shelf where Mr. H would locate it again for next year’s trip.

It was Blossom’s good fortune on this beautiful autumn day that the fanny pack was still occupying the kitchen table and also that Willow’s elementary school bus happened to break down right in front of the Hatchers’ house.  Blossom seized this opportunity to flee into the kitchen, nose her head through the fanny pack’s strap and dart out the front door.  And while the bus driver walked around outside, checking mirrors and tires before restarting the engine, Blossom scampered down the drive and snuck onto the bus.

No. 10 on Blossom’s bucket list was Going to School.  Strapped with her fanny pack/backpack, Blossom pranced over to where Willow sat, chatting with her best friend, Lilly.  The driver popped back into the driver’s seat, the bus engine roared to life and they took off.

Blossom batted at Willow’s leg.  “Look at me, Willow!  I’m going to school with you today!”

Willow looked down but instead of smiling, her eyebrows went into that scrunched mode that said all was not well on Tulip Drive.  “Blossom, what are you doing?  And what’s Dad’s lame fanny pack doing on you?”  Willow let her shoulders sag and rolled her eyes which always made Blossom feel really unspecial.  “Now I’ll have to call Mom to come and get you once we get off the bus.”

Holy cat nip, Willow, you’re no fun!” Blossom meowed back.  “This day was to be all about me.”  She huffed and strutted off down the aisle.  Willow’s eyebrows had raised in a guilty curve.  Good.  Now Blossom would select a seat and pretend she was a student and every time Willow looked back in guilt, Blossom would refuse to look at her.

The bus had filled.  The kids were talking.  Loud.  Some were kicking the seats in front of them.  Loud.  One boy bent over to grab Blossom and she skedaddled out of reach.  Something whizzed by her head.  A crumpled up paper.  And then a shoe kicked her in the butt.  Blossom turned and hissed and then remembered she was a student and that was bad manners.

“Cat on the bus!” one child said.

“Is that your cat, Willow?” said another.

“Cat on the bus,” someone took up the chant.  Others joined.  And then the whole bus.  Blossom’s ears wanted to curl in.  These students were not being polite.  And Willow needed a lesson in cat courtesy.

Right when Blossom thought her eardrums might burst, the bus stopped so quickly a few kids flew forward in their seats.  There was total silence except for the bus flashers’ click, click, click.  Blossom looked up the aisle.  The bus driver had gotten out of her seat and was making her way down the aisle.  Blossom gulped, feeling like a mouse about to be ambushed.

Willow stood up after the bus driver passed.  “That’s my cat.  Sometimes she misbehaves like this. . .” her voice trailed off.

Blossom couldn’t believe her furry ears.  Misbehaves like this?  Willow must have misplaced her perfect pet owner conduct in one of the zillion zipped pockets on her Princess Patty Melt backpack.

Blossom didn’t exactly enjoy her visits to the vet but Dr. Moss was a very kind and gentle vet.  On one visit, however, Dr. Moss had an assistant who treated Blossom like she’d rather pull her tail than pet her.  This bus driver had that same anti-cat look.

“Hey cat, go sit by Hunter,” whispered one boy, shooing Blossom even further back.  “Hunter shouldn’t be on the bus either.”

Blossom looked to the very back of the bus where there actually was one space available, next to a boy who looked very sad.  Hunter wore a black backpack with orange cat ears and a nylon lunch bag sat on his lap.  He looked at Blossom and patted the seat next to him but still did not smile.

Blossom jumped into the vacant seat, turned a circle or two until the fanny pack felt right hanging around her neck, and sat down.  The bus driver returned to the front.  Willow was just returning to her seat but glanced back at Blossom, guilt swimming across her face.

Blossom looked away.  Take that Willow, she thought to herself.  I’m Blossom the Student riding on a school bus and when we get to school, I’ll run away so I can attend class and do math.  And at recess, everyone will love me and I’ll ignore you there too!

The kids had lost interest and were back to their kicking and punching and name calling.  But as the bus pulled into the school parking lot, the sad vibes continued rolling off Hunter.  Blossom looked at Hunter’s face.  Did he not like school even though he had a cat backpack and cool lunch bag?  Maybe he didn’t have any friends?

A boy in the seat ahead of them turned around and shook his head.  “Hunter, you should’ve stayed home when you had the chance.”

“Yeah, Hunter,” said the kid next to him.

Hunter sat there and said nothing and Blossom’s heart felt so sad for this fellow student who was going to school to learn math and birdhouse building and dog training, or whatever they learned in school, but didn’t seem to want to.  Blossom decided right then and there that she would be Hunter’s friend.  She would be Blossom the Good Student, making all feel welcome and important.  Something Willow was definitely not role modeling today.  Blossom placed a paw on Hunter’s hand that looked to be holding on for dear life to the lunch bag.  She patted his hand.  You’ll be OK, Hunter. She pressed her paw into his hand.  I’m here for you, Hunter.

Hunter looked down at Blossom with the palest face and saddest eyes ever.  Sadder than those of a basset hound.  And then he vomited, hitting Blossom right between the eyes, which she closed tight because she could feel it running down her face and her back and in between her toes.  She could even feel it in her ears which kept flicking on their own.  And the smell was horrible.  She could have handled the scent of barfed-up kibble but this reeked of cherry Pop-Tarts or something disgusting along those lines.  A hairball was inching up her throat.

Through all the commotion girls were squealing, “Ew!”  Boys were yelling, “Gross!”  A few kids gagged.  Blossom blinked her eyes which felt sticky and saw Willow heading back to her.  Finally.  But then Willow stopped halfway, maybe changing her mind.  She put up a hand and said, “Don’t worry, Blossom.  Mom will meet us at the school,” and scurried back to her clean, safe seat in the front.  The fanny pack felt like a cold, wet blanket on her back.

The bus driver was heading down the aisle again.  Hunter sighed deeply.

Blossom had to admit the kid looked tons better.  She sighed as well, thinking about Mrs. H giving her a bubble bath once she was home again.  And the big apology she’d better get from Willow at the end of the day.  Well, she almost scratched No. 10 off her bucket list, maybe she’d revise it to just Riding a School Bus.  It would have been nice to learn math and try swinging on the monkey bars, but she could seriously do without birdhouse building and dog training and kids who ate Pop-Tarts.