Blossom the Cat Holds a Séance

Blossom the Cat Holds a Seance

Willow was hosting a Halloween party for a few friends, including Lilly who brought along Riley, Blossom’s best feline friend forever.  Strings of mini pumpkin lights and carved jack-o-lanterns adorned the Hatchers’ dimly lit basement.  A card table and folding chairs had been set up with a crystal ball set in its center.  Willow was dressed in a long, flowy dress, hoop earrings and beautiful jeweled turban.

The party was to start with a séance. The guests seated themselves around the table and Willow made them close their eyes.  Blossom and Riley crouched in a corner, watching as she waved her hands over the crystal ball.   “Squiggle, jiggle, wormy wiggle,” she said in a ghostly voice.  “Spirits of the past, move among us.”

The basement was silent but outside the October wind swirled about, causing tree limbs to brush against the house.  Blossom’s fur ruffled as the wind called, “Ooooooooooooo.”

A small voice answered from the shadows above. “Willowwwwwwwwww!  Is that you?”

Willow’s friends opened their eyes, looking up and around.

“It’s a trick,” said one.

Another friend didn’t sound so sure.  “Willow, let’s not do this.”

Lilly got the giggles but then stopped short.  “I think I felt something touch my leg.”

Riley eyed the shadows on the walls made long by all the twinkle lights.  His back arched.  His ears pricked.

“Willowwwwwwwwwww, I’m here,” said the voice again.  “Look.  Can’t you seeeeeee me?”

The lights flickered, making Riley shoot from the floor, howling like his tail had been pulled.  The girls screamed, chairs scraped and they stampeded to the stairway, thundering up the steps.  Even Willow freaked out, screaming like she’d seen a skeleton.

Riley had wedged himself into a bookshelf, tail wrapped over his face.

“It’s OK, Riley.”  Blossom had watched Willow plan this all out.  “That was Mr. H calling from the clothes chute.”

“I thought it was a ghost!” Riley slinked out, fur standing straight up.

With the girls upstairs, Blossom hopped up into one of the chairs.  Normally she hated the basement with all its shadows and hiding places.  But tonight with all the orangey glowing pumpkins it felt safe.

“Riley,” said Blossom.  “Let’s have a séance!”

“I don’t know,” Riley said.  “Isn’t a séance to summon the dead?  Who do we know?”

Blossom didn’t know but she wanted to put her paws on the crystal ball and chant like a fortune teller.  Standing on hind legs, front paws on the table, she called down to Riley.  “Come on, it’s just for fun!  Please?”

“What if we conjure up something scary?” Riley jumped up.

“All Willow conjured up was Mr. H.”  Riley was not going to party poop on her spirit summoning.    “Now close your eyes, Riley, and I’ll begin.”  Blossom mustered up her fortune teller voice.  “Oodle, poodle, tuna noodle.  Calling all spirits from Tulip Drive.”

They sat in silence but for the wind whistling in the night.  “Ooooooooooooo!”  Dead leaves skittered about in the window wells.

And then a tiny voice from above called, “Blossommmmmmmmm!  Is that you?”

Blossom’s eyes popped open as did Riley’s.  Her eyes scanned the rafters.

“That doesn’t sound like Mr. H, if you know what I mean.”  Riley’s eyes gleamed like white gumballs.

“Blossommmmmm!” the voice called again.

Who could it be? Blossom ticked off names of dead ones in her brain, which totaled only one.  “Grandma?  Is that you, Grandma Catalina?”

Blossom turned to Riley.  “Grandma Catalina was my favorite.  Grandma was so tiny that at death they buried her in a shoebox, but Mama said she lived each of her nine lives like a tiger!”

“How come your Grandma never visits you when you’re stuck down here on one of your time-outs?” Riley said.

Blossom gave Riley the stink-eye, returning her attention to the crystal ball.   “Grandma?”

“Yes, Blossom.  This is your Grandma Catalina,” the voice said.  “Blossom, I’ll let you in on a little secret.”

Blossom’s paws gripped the crystal ball.  She scanned the ceiling, hoping to see Grandma’s ghost floating overhead.  “What, Grandma?”

“Blossom,” said Grandma, or Grandma’s spirit, Grandma-spirit, whatever.  “You were always my favorite.”

Blossom felt a glow spread from ears to toes.  She turned to Riley, “I knew it!” she whispered.  “I always knew I was Grandma’s favorite.”

Riley opened his mouth but then shut it again.

“Blossom can you do me a favor?” the grandma-spirit went on.

“Yes, Grandma!” Blossom cried.  “I’ll do anything for you!”

“Listen closely, Blossom,” said Grandma’s spirit.  “I’ve been dead for sooooooo long, you know I never get to eat anything in my shoebox.  I’d really like a piece of Swiss cheese.  There’s a nice wedge of Swiss on Willow’s party table.  Bring that to me!”

“Whoa!” said Riley.  “Willow might not like that, Blossom, if you know what I mean.”

“Who asked you?”  Grandma’s spirit voice turned nasty.

Blossom could only shrug.  Maybe Grandma was cranky from all those years cooped up in a shoebox.  “I’ll be right back,” Blossom called.  “Don’t go anywhere.”  With that she scrambled upstairs, Riley on her heels.

The wedge of cheese, surrounded by crackers, sat on a wooden tray on the table.  The girls were busy playing a Princess Patty Melt board game.

Blossom crept into a chair and snaked her front leg along the table.  Curling her paw around the cheese, she shuffled it to the floor where it thudded softly and rolled over once.

“Sorry, Willow,” Blossom said under her breath.  “But this is for Grandma who hasn’t eaten in centuries.”  Then clutching the wedge in her jaws, she flew downstairs, jumped into the chair, and placed the cheese on the table next to the crystal ball.  Riley hopped into an adjacent chair.

“Here’s the cheese, Grandma,” Blossom said, paws once again on the crystal ball.

“Bless you, Blossom,” said Grandma’s spirit.  “Now there’s just one more thing you need to do for me.”

“Yes, Grandma?” Blossom was all ears.

“Blossom, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there,” Grandma’s spirit called.  “You need to be one tough biscuit!”

“OK, Grandma,” said Blossom.  “I will.  I promise.”

“Show me how tough you can be.”

Blossom blinked.  “How?”

“Show me how hard you can squeeze Riley’s nose.”

What?” Blossom looked at Riley, his eyes were slit like a snake’s.

“Go on, do it for Grandma!”

Blossom put her paw over Riley’s nose and squeezed as best she could.

“Ow!” Riley jumped back, pawing at his nose and glaring at Blossom.  “You didn’t have to squeeze so hard.”

“Now Riley,” commanded Grandma.  “Do the same for Blossom.  You need to be tough too.”

“Huh?” Blossom grumbled at the crystal ball.

Riley squeezed Blossom’s nose, twisting it at the same time.

“Riley!  I didn’t squeeze your nose that hard!” Blossom meowed.

“Now both of you skedaddle upstairs!” roared Grandma.  “You must escape.  I hear a kennel full of spirits rolling in down here!”

Suddenly the lights went out, leaving the basement black except for the lit jack-o-lanterns with their sharp teeth.  Upstairs, the girls screamed.  Blossom and Riley flew up the steps as if snapping lobsters were on their tails.

In the living room, Mrs. H was going around with an automatic lighter, clicking light into any candles they had.

“Calm down,” Mr. H was trying to settle the noisy girls.  “The power just went out.”

And then like magic, the power flicked back on.

“The power went off and on and on Halloween,” Blossom cried.  “Do you think those spirits turned it off and Grandma made them turn it back on?” Blossom’s fur felt all tingly.  “Riley, I’m going to go ask Grandma.  After all, I was her favorite grand kitten!”  Blossom scampered off before Riley could object.

Halfway down the stairs leading into the basement Blossom and Riley stopped in their tracks.  There on the card table with the crystal ball and Swiss cheese was a mouse.  The mouse was on his back, rolling around on the table, laughing in high pitched squeaks.  At one point he laughed so hard he gave himself the hiccups.  Finally his grating hiccup-squeaks turned to sighs.  He got up and took a bite of cheese.

Blossom wasn’t positive, but it almost sounded like the mouse said, “Stupid cats,” in between munches.

Blossom and Riley stared at each other.  Riley’s mug hung open so wide Blossom could count most of his incisors.  Blossom felt like her head had been run over by a Dyson upright.

“We’ve been bamboozled by a mouse,” said Riley.

“Grandma would roll over in her shoebox if she knew how stupid I’ve been,” Blossom said.  “I stole Willow’s party cheese and treated you like a bug butt.”  She waited for Riley to disagree but he didn’t.

They watched as the mouse, back turned to them, nibbled away at the cheese, gobbling it up as if the night’s high jinks had never occurred.

Blossom and Riley side-eyed each other.  Riley was the first to speak.  “Hey Blossom, care for some cheese with your mouse?”

“That would be awesome,” said Blossom as they prepared to pounce.

Blossom the Cat Visits an Apple Orchard

Blossom Visits an Apple Orchard

Blossom loved autumn, riding in the country under a gray sky, decaying leaves all around and apple scent in the air.  She had just had her annual check-up with Dr. Moss and was in her cat carrier in the back seat of the Hatchers’ car.  Mrs. Hatcher and Willow decided to make a side trip to The Apple Farm before returning home.

They turned onto the dirt road leading up to The Apple Farm.  The parking lot was full so Mrs. H had to park on the side of the road.  The tires crunched over the gravel before rolling to a stop.  Blossom expected her carrier to slide to the floor, the car felt to be sitting at a definite downward slant.

“Whoa, this hill is steep.  It’s like being at the top of a roller coaster and looking down!” said Willow.  “Did you put on the emergency brake, Mom?”

“Oh Willow, people don’t use emergency brakes anymore,” Mrs. H said, getting out of the car.

Mrs. H must have left her thinking cap at home.  Mr. H always used the emergency brake.  Blossom wasn’t sure if he used it because he enjoyed the annoying scritch sound it made or because he had read the drivers manual front to back and did everything it told him to do.

“We’ll be right back, Blossom.”  Willow had no sooner shut the car door when Blossom heard her say, “Look Mom, isn’t that Emily and her new baby?”

Mrs. Hatcher’s agreeable squeal was all it took for Blossom to want to see what she could not.  Their footsteps crunched off down the path.

Blossom cried, “Wait, what about me?  Don’t leave me locked up!”   She repeatedly pawed at the carrier’s door, trying to unhinge the latch which finally popped, springing the door wide.

Blossom leaped into the driver’s seat, nose to the window.  Mrs. H and Willow were already at a table with apple-filled baskets, cooing over a baby in a stroller.  Blossom could not understand what was so cute about a baby.  Cats were way cuter.  Babies had little red wrinkled faces and cried if one didn’t constantly jiggle them.

A woman trotted past the car.  Out of her enormous shoulder bag, peered a Yorkie with hair bows.  The Yorkie yapped at Blossom.  “I get to go to The Apple Farm!”

Blossom grumbled and stared out the window ahead, taking in all the apple tables and surrounding hills and countryside that she could only experience behind a windshield.  Plus the steering wheel was blocking her view and that made her wonder what it was like to drive.  She stood on hind legs, paws pressed upon the wheel, trying to turn it from side to side.  A car zoomed by with a black lab, head out the window, tongue wagging.

“Look at me!”  Blossom boasted.  “I’m driving a car!”

Then a car pulled up on the opposite side of the road.  A family of four got out, slamming their doors, leaving their miniature poodle in the back seat.  They’d left the window partially rolled down.

“I’m driving my car!”  Blossom called to the poodle.  She wished she knew how to honk the horn.

“You don’t have your seatbelt on,” yodeled the poodle.

Seatbelt?  Blossom tossed her paw in the poodle’s direction.  “I don’t need one, I’m such a good driver.”

Blossom was curious about the big black stick situated between the front car seats and the column of letters next to it.  P R N D.  The stick had what looked like a black dog nose on its side and when she touched it, she discovered the nose could be pushed in.  So she pushed it in, feeling the stick move beneath her paw.  Her whiskers quivered as the stick moved out of the P slot, thunked past R and settled into the N position.

She’d moved the stick from P to N!  Blossom just had to share her smartness.  “My family’s down at The Apple Farm,” she bragged to the poodle.  “When they return, I’m driving them home!”  Her head felt big like her brains were dancing but, at the same time, her stomach felt itchy the way it did when the car was moving. Then she realized the car was moving.  Down the hill.  At first slowly but then it picked up its clip.

“That’s bad manners to drive your car into an apple orchard!” the poodle barked.

Blossom didn’t know what to do so she kept her paws on the wheel.  Luckily there were no cars in her path.  However, she was headed toward a table where two girls were dishing up apple sundaes.  Maybe they’d know how to stop the car, if they looked up before she ran over them.

“You’re going to crash into the apples!”  The poodle was somersaulting about in his car, racing front to back and front again, as Blossom rolled past him.

Willow and Mrs. H were at a stand on the other side, buying apple donuts.  A tractor had just pulled up to the main building.  Kids and parents hopped off the attached trailer, some carrying pumpkins they’d picked from the patch.  The sundae makers were spraying squiggly whipped cream on their creations, clueless that a car was about to take out their table.

“Excuse me!  I need to drive my car into The Apple Farm!”  Blossom meowed, really wishing she could honk the horn or at least alert the sundae makers to lay flat so she could run over them.  She also wished the day wasn’t such a gray one because she suspected she might spend the rest of it in the Hatchers’ dismal basement.

As the car approached the apple sundae table, Blossom faintly heard the poodle back up the hill.  “You should have used your emergency braaaaaaaaaaake!”

The car was really moving now, barreling actually.  People were screaming and clamoring to get out of the way.  Blossom recognized Emily’s baby, hollering its wrinkled red head off.  How could anyone say that was cute?  The car was about to crash and Blossom was meowless.

The car clunked sharply into the wooden table holding the sundaes.  Blossom felt her head hit the ceiling before she landed on top of the steering wheel.  The sundae makers scrambled aside, sprinting off to safety.  Clumps of whipped cream speckled the windshield, then ran down, leaving gauzy streaks.  Plastic dishes and spoons clattered to the ground.  The sundae table tumbled into another table with glass jars of cider and decorative wooden apple signs, neatly on display.  Blossom’s ears flattened at the shower of shattering glass.  One apple sign clacked into another and the rest went down like dominoes.  Next went the table with the apple baskets.  Blossom had never seen so many apples roll in so many directions.

There stood Mrs. H and Willow, shock plastered across their faces.  Had they seen Blossom at the wheel?  Hopefully not.  All she could think was that she had two whiskers to make it back into her cat carrier!  Blossom flung herself into the back seat, heart deflating to find the carrier had fallen to the floor, its door latched shut.  Her one chance for survival smashed like the apples.

Mrs. H and Willow were flying toward the car, eyes wide like pit bulls were after them.

Then Blossom’s brain had a flash more brilliant than fish-flavored toothpaste.  She flipped over on her back, letting her legs sprawl all over the place.  She imagined she was in a pit with scorpions, hoping the terror of that thought would translate itself across her face.

“Oh goodness!”  Mrs. H yanked the car door open, hand over her heart.

“Blossom, are you all right?”  Willow said, near tears, reaching in to grab her.

Blossom sighed, hoping her eyes conveyed torment, and let out her most pitiful mew.  “Mowwwwwwwww!”

“Oh, Blossom, poor kitty!”  Willow held Blossom tight and patted her back.  “Don’t worry.  Everything’s OK now.”

“I’ll never forgive myself for not using that emergency brake,” Mrs. H scolded herself.

Blossom tucked her nose into Willow’s armpit, afraid the relieved look on her mug might blow her cover.  Someone, indeed, had been watching over her on this gray day.  How often did a piece of car equipment save one’s tail?

Blossom said a little prayer of thanks for being saved by the emergency brake.  Or lack of.

 

Blossom the Cat and the Cake

Blossom and the Cake

Lester Locket had been one of the oldest charter members of the church the Hatchers attended.  He had also been an avid Monopoly player.

Mrs. Hatcher was not a great cake baker by nature.  So perhaps it was because she too was fond of playing Monopoly, she decided to make her Chocolate Surprise Bundt Cake for Lester Locket’s funeral.  The batter-filled Bundt pan sat on the kitchen counter, waiting while the oven preheated.

Blossom studied the cake from her favorite place, the top of the refrigerator. The batter was a boring brown. The surprise inside was only fudge.  Big whoop.  Nothing tasty like liver pate or salmon mousse.

Catching an out-of-place blob from the corner of her eye, Blossom glanced back at the empty space above one of the cupboards to see a mouse.  Excitement loomed on the horizon.

“Excuse me,” Blossom said to the mouse.  “This is my kitchen on Tulip Drive.  You don’t belong here.”

The mouse said nothing and, upon closer inspection, Blossom realized the mouse was dead.  This confirmed what Blossom already knew, that mice were so lazy they didn’t care if they spent eternity with the worms or the dust bunnies.  With that, Blossom reached up, intending to slap the dead mouse to the floor so she could swipe his corpse under the fridge or somewhere where no one had to look at him.

The mouse should have just landed on the floor but, instead, his stiff little body smacked the corner of the toaster and bounced into the Bundt pan.  Blossom watched in horror as the batter consumed his body.  For a moment his long tail protruded from the gooey chocolate but then that too disappeared.  And before Blossom could collect her thoughts, which were presently more scrambled than eggs, Mrs. H blew into the kitchen and put the cake in the oven.

Blossom’s thoughts whirled about like berries in a blender.  She’d normally keep a tight mug after flipping a mouse onto the floor, but into a cake!  It would be very bad manners to bring a mouse infested cake to poor Lester’s funeral!

Blossom’s brain raced on.  And what if the cake was sliced just so, that the mouse was all in one slice.  And what if one funeral attender got that piece and speared the mouse with his fork?  And what if that same funeral attender screamed in fear the way Mrs. H might do upon spearing a mouse?  There was the possibility they might die of fright.  And then Pastor Dan would have to perform a second funeral right in the middle of Lester’s funeral!

Willow was beating powdered sugar in a bowl to make the cake’s glaze.  Sometime into the baking, Mrs. H commented, “That cake smells funny.”

Willow crinkled her nose.  “It smells like meatloaf.”

Blossom could be silent no longer.  From her place atop the fridge she cried, “It is roast mouse you smell.”

Mrs. H stared at Blossom as if she’d grown horns.

Willow said, “See, Blossom thinks it smells like meatloaf too.”

“That’s impossible.”  Mrs. H wrenched the cake from the oven, making the oven rack screech.  All the while she kept sniffing like a rabbit and wrinkling her nose.

After the cake had cooled a bit, Mrs. H inverted the Bundt pan onto a cake plate. “Do you think the chocolate could have been old?”

“I don’t think chocolate goes bad, Mom,” Willow said as she drizzled the glaze over the top, her mouth screwing-up the way it might if she were trying to solve a math problem.  “Did you add bacon grease to it or something?”

“No!”  The tone in Mrs. Hatcher’s voice suggested they all zip their lips but Blossom could not be silent.

She leaped onto the kitchen table, looking at Willow and then Mrs. H and meowed in her loudest.  “There’s a mouse in this cake!”  Why could humans not at least lip read?  Cats could.

“Are you sick, Blossom?”  Willow scrunched her forehead.

“Get down from the table this minute or I’m putting you in the basement!”  Mrs. Hatcher’s puckered chin meant a meltdown was in the making.

Blossom thumped to the floor and huffed off to a corner.  That stupid mouse.  Any other rodent on the planet would have clunked to the floor, not bounced off a toaster and landed in a Bundt pan.

Chocolate Surprise Bundt Cake.  Flipping fishsticks, if anyone at the funeral ate that cake, they sure would get a surprise.  She owed it to Lester Locket and all the Monopoly players and the funeral attendees to keep that cake from joining the other funeral goodies.  But how?

Blossom donned her thinking cap.  No. 1, she could knock the cake to the floor.  But the cake plate would break and it had been a Christmas gift from Willow.  No. 2, she could eat a piece out of it and really make Mrs. H hit the ceiling.  But she didn’t want to risk biting into that mouse either.  She shuddered a bit at the thought.  Who knew how long he’d been dead?  A normal mouse would at least have made sure it was fresh when it died.  Blossom only had one option.

Mrs. H was in the closet getting her jacket.  Blossom really, really didn’t want to get a time-out in the basement.  But she was doing it for the good of all.  Lester Locket, Monopoly player and charter member of the church, would have a grand, mouse-free funeral.  And someday when it was Blossom’s turn to trot across the Rainbow Bridge, Lester might be there to thank her for making his funeral one meower of a good time.

Blossom jumped onto the table, gracefully stepped into the Bundt cake’s center and lay her whole furry body over it, glaze and all, and waited for Mrs. H to come fetch the cake.

* * *

Later that day, Blossom pondered over whether Lester Locket’s funeral was a success.  She did this pondering from her not so favorite spot, the step next to the bottom stair step leading into the basement.  Hopefully by the time Lester’s funeral concluded, Mrs. H would return with her empty cake plate and a pawful of thank-yous for having contributed her mini blonde brownies, purchased from Cub Foods.  Mrs. H would never know that in the trash, along with a Bundt cake with cat fur all over it, there was also a baked mouse.  And she’d open the door to the basement, letting Blossom back into the family.

Blossom the Cat Gets Blessed

Blossom the Cat Gets Blessed

St. Francis of Assisi was known as the patron saint of animals.  Every October, to honor the Feast of St. Francis, a Blessing of the Animals was held at the Hatchers’ church.  Blossom looked forward to this occasion, considering it a fresh start and opportunity to sweep her past poor decisions under the rug.

Pastor Dan officiated at this ritual, usually held on the lawn of the church.  However, this particular Sunday it was raining cats and dogs and the ceremony was moved to the sanctuary.  The line of pets on leashes, or in their owners’ arms, went down the aisle and out the door.  When it was Blossom’s turn to be blessed, Willow held her near the baptismal font.

Blossom looked down at the font.  It was made of very heavy sculpted clear glass in a deep shade of robin egg.  There was enough holy water in it that if Blossom could stand in it, it would come up to her knees.  Of course, she would never stand in a baptismal font.  Pastor Dan dipped his fingertips into the water and sprinkled it across Blossom’s head in almost the same place Willow always scratched her.  Blossom shut her eyes tight as the droplets lighted on her forehead, eyes and nose.

Pastor Dan bent his head close to Blossom and whispered, “You are blessed, animal of God.”

Blossom felt glowing and there was maybe just the slightest vibration ruffling through her fur, like tall grass shimmering in the sun.  She couldn’t help but wonder, is this what it felt like to turn holy?  Willow once told Blossom that Jesus had walked on water because he was holy.

When much of the congregation had been blessed and some owners and their pets had actually filed out, others stayed behind to chat.  Willow and Blossom were making their way around those in the remaining line when the unthinkable happened.  A gray and white schnauzer, Blossom had never seen before, pooped on one of the steps leading up to the altar.

Sheba, the glamour kitten who lived several houses away from Blossom, was nearby and leaped from her owner’s arms, landing in one of the pews.  “Ew!  I just had my nails polished!  Where on earth is the janitor?”  She gave the schnauzer a catty look and jumped to the floor.  She continued huffing, “Dogs!” as if they were lower life than slugs.

Willow, always the good little helper, called, “Pastor Dan, I’ll clean it up!”  Willow set Blossom down and pointed a finger at her. “Blossom.  Stay.  Right.  There.” Then she scurried up the aisle to get some cleaning supplies.  Pastor Dan was doing the final blessing of a hamster.

Staying right there and doing nothing, Blossom couldn’t help but be drawn to the baptismal font, no longer in use.  It was calling to her like a grilled cheese sandwich.  Blossom tried picturing in her brain what it would look like, Jesus walking on water.  For a cat to walk on water and not get wet, well that truly would be a miracle.  When no one was looking, perhaps she could do a quick dip in the font.  Because of her holy toes, upon contact wouldn’t the water turn rubbery, like Jell-O?  She’d probably bounce right out.  She trotted over to the font and stood beneath it, her furry head all warm and glowing with the blessing she’d just received.

Then Blossom took a tremendous leap into the baptismal font, claws out and ready to bounce, trampoline-style.  Instead, the water splashed up and around her, cold and wet and smelling of something Blossom couldn’t place but it conjured up images of Mrs. H scouring the bathtub.  And because she did not land dead center on the pedestal but off to one side, her weight caused the font to groan as it tipped.  Blossom danced about the font, trying to regain her balance.  And luckily the font righted itself but not before water sloshed to the floor, flowing in all directions, spilling down the altar steps.  A couple cats on the floor pranced to escape their paws getting soaked.  Needing to exit herself, Blossom pushed off from the font’s rim, sailed into space but after landing, skidded into a wrought iron fixture that held tea candles.  The fixture wobbled, then crashed to the floor.  There were barks of fear, meows of horror.

“My Popping Pink polish can’t get wet for three hours!” cried Sheba, hopping one foot at a time like a pointer maneuvering through an obstacle course.

And then the schnauzer, the one who’d pooped out in public, barked, “Water fight!”

Dogs leaped from their owners’ arms, bounding into the water, splashing about.  Blossom thought her eyes would pop when she saw one little Chihuahua splash, sniff and lift his leg on an altar floral arrangement.

A few dogs were dancing in the puddles, woofing, “Splish, splash!”

Sheba screwed up her furry face and slit her eyes at Blossom.  “Look what you’ve done. You didn’t deserve to be blessed!”

Willow was heading back with paper towels and stopped in her tracks at the chaotic scene.  Many of the animals had ceased frolicking and stared at Blossom.

Blossom didn’t know what to do so she darted behind the altar, hoping God wouldn’t notice her if he decided to pay Pastor Dan’s church a visit.  She peeked out to see Willow finishing up with the dog doo-doo clean-up.  Owners had retrieved their pets and gotten them under control.  But her eyes met Sheba’s for a moment.  Sheba tossed her head and pointed her nose skyward, dismissing Blossom.

Blossom felt warm but not in a good way.  She really wished Sheba had not been in the church to witness her not walking on water.

A goat in the crowd bleated, “Jumping into a baptismal font is really bad manners.”

Blossom gulped.

A doberman barked importantly, “Now they’ll have to go all the way up to Heaven to get more water.”

From her hiding spot, Blossom saw a Scottish terrier trot into the crowd of animals and arfed, “We should try to forgive this cat that messed up.”

“I think not!” whined Sheba.  “My diamond collar got wet because of her!”

Willow’s heals clipped up the altar steps.  She stood over Blossom who huddled behind it like a cornered mouse.  Blossom had not stayed right there.  She’d failed Willow.  She was a disgrace to God and her fellow pets.  Her one chance at holiness and being good now down the chute like dirty litter.   All because she thought she was as talented as Jesus.

Willow bent down and scooped Blossom up.  She held her tight and rubbed her forehead, the same place where the holy water had been.  “Poor Blossom,” she said.  “At least you didn’t poop on the floor.  But I’m sure glad Mom wasn’t here.”

Willow walked over to Pastor Dan.  “I’m sorry for all this, Pastor Dan.  I should have never left Blossom alone.  She is kind of mischievous.”

Blossom wanted to grow tiny and disappear.

“Don’t worry,” said Pastor Dan.  “It’s best for this ceremony to be held outside.  It’s too small of a space for all these animals.”  He patted Blossom on the head and said, “You’re a good kitty.  At least you didn’t poop on the floor.”

Blossom’s heart swelled at Pastor Dan’s compliment.  It was like a message from God.   From here on out, she vowed she’d be a good Christian cat.  She saw Sheba and her owner leaving the sanctuary.  Maybe if she prayed more often, God would tell her to back off the next time she thought about putting her paws where they didn’t belong.

“Well Blossom still needs to apologize,” Willow said, holding Blossom out.  “Go ahead, Blossom, say you’re sorry.”

Pastor Dan might be holy but he still wouldn’t understand an apology from a cat.  So Blossom licked his hand instead.

Pastor Dan patted Blossom on the head.  She’d tucked her head down but looked up at him.  Pastor Dan gave her a wink and said, “You’re still blessed.”

As Willow and Blossom waited under the roof at the church entrance for Mrs. H to come pick them up, Blossom looked out into the parking lot at the rain still coming down in sheets.  Even though she was blessed, it hurt to think that maybe Sheba was a better cat because she didn’t attempt walking on water but was content to live life with painted nails and a diamond collar.   But the more Blossom thought about it, the more she realized she may have been afraid of what God thought of her but maybe even more afraid of what Sheba thought.  And that made about as much sense as putting a dog collar on a gerbil.  If Riley, her best feline friend forever, had been at the church, he wouldn’t have said those mean things.

Life could be confusing.  But even though she caused a brawl in God’s house, Pastor Dan was OK with that and had even said she could hang on to her blessing.  So that gave a cat something to live up to.