Blossom the Cat’s Easter

Blossom the Cat's Easter

It was tradition for Mrs. Hatcher to make small Easter baskets for all the children who lived in the cul-de-sac, which was a lot.  Blossom counted the baskets set out on the table.  Nine baskets, each filled with shredded Easter grass, one Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in a pink, blue or green wrapper, one foil-wrapped Cadbury egg and a cellophane wrapped Peeps marshmallow bunny lollipop.  Blossom had never eaten a Peeps lollipop bunny.  She gazed at one of the bunnies, a deep shade of lavender, staring back at her with its beady black eyes.  He looked crunchy and chewy all at the same time.

In that moment, Blossom wanted more than anything in the world to sink her teeth into one of the bunny’s ears.  Yet his piercing eyes held a rather menacing look, just daring her to come near.  Without further thought, Blossom used her teeth to pluck the lollipop, wrapper and all, from its basket.  She’d get Riley, her best feline friend forever, to sample the bunny with her so it didn’t seem such a selfish gesture.  She felt a bit bad, knowing one kid on Tulip Drive would miss out on a Peeps, and maybe a bit scared that Mrs. H might notice the missing bunny. But, trotting down to the spot where the fences came together, she decided eating a Peeps was a necessary life experience for a cat.

Riley and Merle, the neighbor bulldog, were already at the fence.

“Whoa!”  Merle did a little hop when he saw Blossom.  “A Peeps lollipop.”

“I borrowed it from one of the baskets Mrs. H made,” said Blossom.

Merle cocked his head.  “How do you borrow an Easter treat?”

At times, Merle could be a little too goody-goody.  What was the fun in life, Blossom pondered, if one was always honest?

But, no matter, Riley could be counted on to cherish new experiences.  “I’ve never had a Peeps,” he said.  “It looks as fun as sushi.”

Blossom set the bunny down near the fence and, with one paw, pulled off the crinkly wrapper.  Blossom and Riley sniffed it a bit.  Its scent was not very alluring.  For just a moment, she considered trying to get the bunny back in its packaging and return it to the basket.  Then Riley bit off the first ear.

“You bit off its ear,” Blossom meowed, as if the thought had never occurred to her.

“Well, what was I supposed to do?” Riley’s furry forehead wrinkled up, his meows barely understandable with the big wad of Peeps stuffed in his mug.

Even though Riley took the first bite, the injured bunny seemed to be staring back at Blossom like she’d thrown the first blow.  So she bent down and bit off the other ear, taking one of the bunny’s eyes with it.  The yard was silent except for the sounds of the two cats chewing.  And chewing.  And chewing.  The bunny ear felt pasted to the top of Blossom’s mouth.  And it was sweeter than cookie frosting.  It made her mug pucker.

Riley hacked, spraying what was left of the snow with purple dots.  “Yuck!  It’s like eating spongey Kool-Aid.”

“And now you guys have purple tongues,” said Merle.

With the taste of sugar slime in her mouth, Blossom fretted, going over in her brain Mr. H preaching about the consequences of poor decision making.  Her fur felt crawly.  The bunny’s remaining eye glared up at her.  The bunny that may have been greatly appreciated by one of the toddlers on Tulip Drive but instead had fallen victim to cat curiosity.  Blossom had to shake her head to clear out the guiltiness.  No, she reasoned, this had to happen.  Otherwise, she’d have gone all her nine lives never knowing what a Peeps tasted like.  She looked to Riley, waiting for him to agree.

“Well, that was a big mistake,” said Riley.  “We should have left him for a kid that likes sugar and marshmallows.  I guess you’d better dispose of the evidence.”  At least Blossom and Riley thought alike about covering their tracks.

“I hope no one’s disappointed they won’t get a Peeps,” said Merle.

Blossom tried not to make eye contact with Merle, even though there’d been plenty of instances where she’d seen him pee on the same roses that were clipped for vases and brought into the house.  She didn’t know where to hide the half-eaten bunny so she tried tucking him under a garden rock, like that would erase all her bad deeds.

That evening as Blossom lay in her sleeping basket, she couldn’t help but snatch glimpses of the baskets on the table, waiting to be taken to their new homes on Tulip Drive.  Her eyeballs kept zeroing in on the one bunny-less basket.  Mrs. H would be making her rounds before church in the morning, leaving the baskets on the neighbors’ steps.  Blossom could not stop dwelling on her poor decision making, the result being a real howler.  Now some unfortunate child would not receive the same great basket as the others.  And, as panic ruffled her fur, she thought, what if that one child also had a brother or sister who also received a basket from Mrs. H.  And that one child noticed a Peeps lollipop in their sibling’s basket but not their own.  She could almost hear their cries of not fair! and their thoughts that Mrs. H was not very competent in Easter basket making.  Oh, holy hairballs.  If Blossom could drive a car, she’d head on down to Walgreens this instant and buy another Peeps lollipop.

After a night of Peeps nightmares, Blossom woke to Easter morning.  The sun was a golden ball and, trotting down to the fence, the air smelled like spring.  She kept an eye out for the rock where she’d hidden the bunny, hoping maybe a miracle would have occurred and the bunny would be whole again.  But she couldn’t locate the rock.  Riley and Merle were already out.

“Do you see the rock where I hid the bunny?” Blossom asked.

Riley scanned the Hatchers’ back yard from his side of the chain link.  “I don’t see it.  Oh wait.  It’s over by the garden.”

Blossom scampered over to see.  The rock had been moved.  “The Peeps is gone!” she cried.

“Maybe a bird or a mouse ate it,” said Riley.  “But how could something that small move the rock?  Or, I know.” Riley nodded his head.  “The Easter bunny took it back to his hutch to put new ears on it.”

Blossom liked that idea.

“An angel came from heaven and rolled back the rock.”  Merle was standing, nose to the chain link, eyes wide as quarters.

Blossom and Riley stared at him.

“It’s from the Bible,” said Merle.

“How do you know what’s in the Bible?” said Blossom.

“Haven’t you ever watched The Greatest Story Ever Told?” said Merle.  He wagged his head.  “I think Jesus has been in your garden and he left with the Peeps.”

Blossom turned to Riley.  His yellow eyes were round as well.  It was obvious Merle’s story made more sense than the one about the Easter bunny.  Blossom almost shivered and it wasn’t that cold out.  She’d taken something that didn’t belong to her and now Jesus knew about it and that meant God also knew about it.  And God knowing about her naughtiness was worse than Mrs. H finding out.

Blossom dragged herself back to the house.  Easter was a day to celebrate and rejoice.  Instead, her brain was so filled with her misdeeds, she felt a meow-graine coming on.  She crawled into the family room to punish herself again by checking on the bunny-less basket.  Half the baskets were now gone, having been delivered, and Willow was gathering up what was left.

“Mom, this basket looks funny.”  Willow compared it to the others.  “It’s missing a Peeps.  Do you have any more?”

“I think I’m out of those,” Mrs. H said from the other room.  “Let me find something else.”

“No, don’t bother.  I’ll fix it,” said Willow, going to fetch her own Easter basket from the Easter bunny, a basket that was much nicer than the little ones for the neighbors.  She took a chocolate wrapped bunny from her basket and plopped it into the bunny-less basket.  “Found something,” she called.

And despite Blossom’s brain feeling like it had been loaded with too many jelly beans, she felt her heart swell to the size of a hard-boiled egg.  Willow had sacrificed her own chocolate bunny.  And, the bunny looked much grander in the tiny basket than an old Peeps lollipop.  Blossom could only hope that this special basket would go to the most worthy child in the cul-de-sac, a child that didn’t deface bunnies and hide them under rocks.

Before Willow walked out the door, she turned to Blossom and said, “Happy Easter, Blossom.”  And in a whisper, she added, “I don’t even like chocolate.”

Alone in the room, Blossom looked to the walls, then the ceiling.  “I don’t even like Peeps,” she meowed.  “And I’ll never steal another one either,” she added, just in case God was listening.

Blossom the Cat Plays Monopoly

Blossom the Cat Plays MonopolyMrs. Hatcher had a fondness for playing Monopoly and after dinner on Saturday nights, she would set the game up on the kitchen table.  Mr. Hatcher always sat opposite Mrs. H and Willow sat between them.  The fourth spot, opposite Willow, was for Blossom.  Blossom didn’t know the rules of Monopoly but it did not matter as she had her own set of rules.  Blossom loved the rattle of shaking dice and the tap, tap, tap as the tokens made their way around the board.  But what she liked best were the four spaces around the board that Monopoly had devoted to trains, each space with a different rail line name, each rail line on its own side of the board.  Blossom pretended their black locomotive shapes were litter boxes on wheels.

Mrs. H counted out the dollar bills, handing out neat stacks to Willow and Mr. Hatcher.  Then she selected her customary playing piece, the shoe.  Willow always chose the Scottie dog.  Mr. H liked to switch it up.  Tonight he picked the wheelbarrow.

The game began, Blossom up on hind legs on the chair, paws resting on the table, fascinated at the way her family had to announce what space they had landed on.

Willow was the first to cry out, “Reading Railroad!” Counting out her money, she collected the card that also had the litter box on wheels symbol.  “I like to buy up all the railroads,” she said, eyes beaming.

Mr. H was next.  “Baltic Avenue!”

Mrs. H shook the dice and moved her shoe.  Tap, tap, tap.  It intrigued Blossom that Mrs. H’s token sounded ten tails louder than every other token as it beat a path around the board.  The shoe landed on the space with the big squiggle of a question mark.  “Chance!” Mrs. H breathed, snatching up an orange card and crinkling her eyebrows.  “Go back three spaces.”  The shoe angrily tapped back three.

“Income tax.  Bummer,” Mr. H replied.

Noting Mrs. H’s still bundled-up eyebrows, Blossom decided Mrs. H was not off to a good start. The Monopoly markers continued around the board.

“Electric Company!”

“St. James Place!”

Round they went, Mrs. Hatcher’s token sounding like it was tap dancing all over the board.  The shoe rounded the corner and up the next with Mrs. H picking off and buying up every single thing she landed on.  Kentucky Avenue, Illinois and Ventnor.

Blossom placed a paw on the railroad/litter box on wheels space directly in front of her.  “This one’s mine,” she meowed.

Mrs. H gently lifted Blossom’s paw and set it off the table.  “Just watch, Blossom,” she said, as if speaking to a two-year old rather than a litter box property owner.

The markers made their way around a second time.  Willow’s token landed on Blossom’s litter box on wheels.  “B & O Railroad.  I’m buying it!”

Even though the railroad/litter box on wheels space was really Blossom’s, this was OK because Willow’s game piece was a Scottie.  And Blossom was OK with a Scottie taking a break on her litter box property.

“My second railroad,” Willow chimed.  “I want to buy them all.”

“Oh no, dear.”  Mrs. H shook her head.  “You need to buy up all the properties in one stretch.  That way you’re assured your opponents will land on them and have to pay rent.”

“You play your game, let her play hers,” said Mr. H.

“It’s all about strategy,” Mrs. H chirped.

“Suit yourself.  My strategy is buying the pricey properties, Boardwalk and Park Place,” said Mr. H, tapping his token up the street Mrs. H had practically bought out.  He landed on one of the yellow spaces Mrs. H was still intent on nabbing.  He sat back, putting his fingertips together.  “Marvin Gardens,” he said, raising an eyebrow at Mrs. H.  “That would sabotage your plan.”

Mrs. H was trying hard to act like she hadn’t a care in the world about Mr. H’s wheelbarrow sitting on the last yellow spot on the board.  But Blossom knew.  Mrs. H yearned for Marvin Gardens as much as Blossom’s heart ached whenever she saw the cat mansion displayed in Petco’s mall window.

“I think I’ll buy it.”  Mr. H counted out his money.

“Whoa, Dad,” Willow’s eyes grew wide.  “You screwed up Mom’s strategy to own all the yellow properties.”

“Exactly,” Mr. H replied.

Mrs. H’s chair scraped across the floor as she stood up.  “I need to get some tea.” She cleared her throat, which was necessary as it sounded as though she’d swallowed a mouse.  “Can I get anything for anyone else?”

“No thanks, Mom,” said Willow, arranging her cards.

“I’m good,” said Mr. H, straightening his money.

“Chocolate milk, please,” Blossom meowed.

Mrs. H gave Blossom a look that could melt the chocolate off a dilly bar.  Blossom grumbled to herself.  Mrs. H was displaying very bad manners tonight.  No one had done anything wrong.  They were all playing a fun game.  She cocked her head in thought.  Perhaps it wasn’t Mrs. H’s fault she was being such a sour puss.  Possibly all property owners got their tails in a knot when they lost out on Marvin Gardens.

Mrs. H returned with her tea, the smell swirling about the table like liquid catnip.  At this point, the game sped up with the markers positively trotting around the board.  Little green plastic houses started popping up on everyone’s properties.  Blossom reached over and pawed out one of the little green houses from the game box, then pushed it into place over her litter box on wheels property.

“Blossom, what are you doing?”  Mrs. H ran her fingertips through her hair as if they might stumble upon the answer to her question.

“This is a green doghouse to go with my litter box on wheels,” Blossom meowed, patting the house just so.

Willow’s Scottie landed on Blossom’s litter box a second time but this was OK because a Scottie and a green doghouse made sense.  But on Willow’s next turn, after she’d moved her token, Blossom noticed the handful of big red houses in the game box and was struck with an idea as meow-velous as chicken nuggets.  The big red houses looked like cat condos.  She’d replace her green doghouse with a red cat condo.  She swiped the plastic house to the floor.  Chink, then pawed out the condo and moved it into place.

Mrs. H sighed, retrieved the green piece from the floor and rolled the dice.  Tap, tap, tap.  Around the corner clipped the shoe, not only landing on Blossom’s litter box property but knocking the red cat condo over.

Blossom sat up straight in her chair.  “You knocked over my cat condo!” she meowed.  Blossom looked from Mrs. H to her litter box property, totally meowless.  A Scottie on her litter box was acceptable.  A shoe was not.  “Move your shoe.”  She didn’t mean to snarl but she did.

One corner of Mrs. H’s mouth curved up like that of a sly old fox.  “Sorry, Blossom.”

There was a stillness in the room, the kind created when a hawk blew in to the Hatchers’ back yard and perched on a post not far from the feeders.

Mr. H and Willow exchanged worried glances as Blossom spread her toes wide and picked up the shoe.  She flung it into the air where it plunked into Mrs. H’s cup of tea.  Tea leaped from the cup, speckling the table and narrowly missing the game board.

Willow momentarily closed her eyes tight.  “It’s just a game, Mom.  Blossom didn’t mean to do that.”

Mr. H leaned over and patted Mrs. H’s hand.  “Calm down, dear.  You know you’re going to win anyway.  You always do.”

“I don’t always win.”  Mrs. H took a deep breath.  “I’ve just had a bad day.  I know I’m acting like a two-year old.”

Well, that was true, thought Blossom.  But still, she felt a whisker sorry for Mrs. H.  So she reached over and lay her paw on Mrs. H’s hand and gave it a rub.  “I’m sorry I threw your shoe in your teacup,” she meowed.  Actually she had every right to throw the shoe but she’d act like she’d been an unruly poodle just to make Mrs. H feel better about her bad day.

Mrs. H smiled.  “You would think Blossom was actually playing the game.”

“Well, she is, Mom,” said Willow.

Mr. H looked at Blossom and winked.

* * *

One week later Mr. Hatcher’s brother and wife from Iowa came to visit over the weekend and they brought a gift.

Everyone gathered round the kitchen table to see it.  Blossom leaped to the counter top, nudging her head under Willow’s arm so she could get a look.

“Iowaopoloy?”  The tone in Mrs. H’s voice held as much disbelief as it might were she presented with space aliens.

Willow turned the shrink-wrapped game upside down and traced her finger along the photo of the actual playing board.  “Mom!  It’s like Monopoly only with stuff from Iowa City.  See,” she pointed.  “Kinnick Stadium!  Mickey’s Irish Pub!”  She proceeded to point out all the playing squares, her excitement growing with each name called out.  “And look!  Instead of railroads, there are . . . what are those?”

“They’re hawk heads,” said Mr. H’s brother.  “Herky the Hawk is the University of Iowa’s mascot.”

“Can we play?” begged Willow.  “Pleeeeeeeeeease?”

Mrs. H scrunched her eyebrows together.  Blossom knew Mrs. H was puzzling over whether she could find as much pleasure in owning Pagliai’s Pizza.

But Blossom had her own plans.  In future games, she would now be the proud owner of Herky the Hawk.  And birds were way more fun than litter boxes.  Go Hawks!