Friday, September 17, 2010


Tatum was not a brave cat in the best of circumstances, and tonight had not been the best of circumstances.  Earlier in the evening, before it had even started getting dark he heard heavy rain hitting the side of the house, and the noisy girl running around closing windows.  That didn’t bother him much.  He’d been lying on the bed and watched warily as she’d closed the window in case she decided to flop on the bed or something.  When she left, he dozed off again for a few minutes only to be awakened by an odd rattling sound – almost like someone dropping lots of marbles.  He knew what that sounded like from the time Ande had dropped her container of marbles on the kitchen floor.  This noise was coming from outside, though, and it was getting louder.  He jumped off the bed and headed downstairs just in case whatever it was came through the roof. 

Ande was downstairs looking out the back door and he heard her say something about not seeing hail in a long time and how glad she was that they’d just cut down a bunch of iffy trees.  Tatum decided the best place for right now was under one of the old choir chairs.  They were very sturdy, and if a tree was going to fall on the house, iffy or not, he wanted to be as safe as he could.  After a few minutes the rattling noise stopped, and the wind noise dropped considerably.  Tatum eased himself out from under the chair and went to look for Ursula.  She was under the couch, and when she saw Tatum she asked, “Is the house going to fall down?  This is terrible, just terrible!” 

“I don’t know,” replied Tatum.  “I think it’s getting a little better.  I heard Ande say that it was hailing, but I think it’s stopped now.  The wind is dying down too, so I think it’s safe to come out.”  Both cats ventured out and headed for the crunchy food bowl.  They both found food to be a great stress reliever. 

Along with the usual traffic noise going by the front of the house, they could hear the sirens of fire trucks as they went by.  After one really loud truck went by with sirens and repeated horn blasts, Tatum decided that maybe he should be back under his chair.  He was slinking towards it when the dining room light went out.  Ande had put it on when the storm started so that she could see her way around, and she wasn’t near either of the switches to have turned it off.  He heard her say, “Oh bother.  I hate it when the power goes out.” 

She moved around the rooms on the first floor, tying back curtains and opening shutters.  The noisy girl came down and complained that her internet connection was down, and could she use the laptop for the wireless.  Ande explained patiently that the wireless signal came from the cable connection, so there was no internet until the power returned.  The noisy girl complained a bit, but stopped when a tremendous clap of thunder sounded.  There had been lightning and thunder throughout the storm, but not awfully close.  This one sounded like it was right outside the house.  A moment later the kitchen lit up as though the lights were on and immediately there was another crash of thunder.  Tatum ran from under his chair to the sofa where Ursula was hiding again.  There was safety in numbers. 

Ande found some candles and lit them, placing them in locations where the cats would not venture, like on top of the stove and on the mantle over the fireplace.  The light from the candles flickered, making odd shadows.  Tatum definitely did not like that.  Even if nothing was moving, shadows moved with the candle flickers.  How was he supposed to know what was safe and what wasn’t? 

A little while later, after his beloved Daddy came home from work, they all went out, first extinguishing all the candles.  The house was totally dark and quiet, and Tatum realized that he’d never seen the house like this before.  When his beloved Daddy or the noisy girl were home, the TV was on or there was music, and of course lights were on unless it was the middle of the day.  Even if everyone was asleep, the light over the kitchen sink was left on so that the cats could find their food and not step in the water bowl. 

With no distractions, the silence overcame Tatum’s worries about the dark and storm and he fell asleep.  He woke in total darkness at the sound of the back door closing and the voices of the Daddy and noisy girl.  They tried turning on lights, but there was still no electricity, so they light candles and used flashlights to move around the house.  The flashlights were worse than the candles for shadows and odd light patterns, because they were brighter and moved.  Tatum found himself running from one place to another, just to avoid the strange shadows. 

When Ande came home she told them that the problem seemed to be around the corner and up the street, as the road was blocked and there were a bunch of power trucks around there.  Tatum hoped fervently that whatever it was it would be resolved soon.  She went upstairs carrying a candle and carefully latched the door to the bedroom behind her.  She never did that!  This was their time together, she couldn’t shut him out.  He’d usually go up, get a nice long head scratch and then snuggle up behind her shoulders for a while.  When the noisy girl opened the door, he scooted in, but Ande told her to take him out, since it wasn’t safe to have a cat and a candle in the same place.  So, he was shut out again. 

About a half hour later, the lights flicked on.  No noise, no fanfare, but there was suddenly light.  Candles were blown out, flashlights put away, and the usual evening noises of Daddy’s television shows and the noisy girl’s music came back.  Ande opened the door, and Tatum went gratefully in, complaining all the while of the disruption to his evening.  Ande scratched his head, ruffled his fur and apologized for all the disruption caused by the storm and power outage.  “This doesn’t happen often, you know, Tatum.  I’m sorry I didn’t let you in before, but you’re such a bouncy cat, I couldn’t risk you bouncing into my candle and starting a fire.  In any case, everything is back to normal now.” 

Tatum knew it was.  He gotten his head scratched and now was going to settle in for his nightly snuggle.  This was life as he liked it. 

Photo courtesy of Eric Schmuttenmaer -

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