The House Cat and the Mountain Lion

Flash Fiction February Challenge Day 23. I missed the prompts over the weekend because we were out of town and although I wrote something for yesterday’s prompt, I wasn’t necessarily excited about it. Today’s prompt–to write a story based on a single word of your own choosing–was more interesting. I chose the word “luminescent.”

I think I’m lost, the cat said to herself. She had hunted in the woods outside the village many times but had never traveled so deep into the foothills. A tame house cat, she never assumed she could compete with her wild cousins.  

As she cautiously padded along, the towering pines with their gentle whooshing were replaced by spindly, stunted ones with branches that followed winding paths to the sky and large lichen-covered boulders.

A breeze ruffled her fur as she watched the sun sink below the horizon behind her. Her tail flicked once in concern as she sniffed the air. Something was following her.

She wandered for another hour as the sky went from dusk to dark. A full moon loomed overhead, casting a cold bright light onto the path she couldn’t make sense of. I know I came this was before. Why can’t I find my way back down this mountain? For now she was truly on the big, gray mountain that jutted up from the ground like a fortress for the gods. 

A low growl woke her from her contemplation. “Where are you going, small one?” 

She looked up at the voice and saw the tall dark shape of a mountain lion silently jump to the ground from atop a boulder. His eyes had a luminescent shine in the dark, much like hers, but other than their feline shapes, that was their only similarity. She hunched down and showed her submission. “Please, oh great one, don’t eat me!”

He chuckled, another low growl. “Do you not know? Our kind do not eat each other on nights when the moon is full of light.”

She didn’t know, having lived her whole life in the village. She had always avoided her wild cousins until now. He came up to her and sat down, watching her with polite observation. She was cautious but also in awe of the majestic beast that appeared to her like a king. A king of the forest, she thought, perhaps he knows the way back to the village.

“Could you please tell me where I am? I am trying to make my way back down to the village where the humans live.”

“So, you are lost. I had assumed as much. You have been wandering in circles.” The mountain lion looked at the cat for a second and then told her. “I know these mountains well, but I am not the one to show you the way. On a night like this, you must live like your wild cousins and seek the moon’s guidance. She is wise and knows everything about these mountains.”

“How do I reach the moon? It is so high up!”

“I will help you. We climb the mountain to the very top and she will meet us there.”

The cat nodded and together they began climbing the big, gray mountain that looked like a fortress for the gods. 

When they were nearly to the top, the cat was tired and feeling hopeless. The moon had disappeared behind a cloud and in the darkness the cat was doubting her trust in the mountain lion and was afraid she had been tricked. She plopped to the ground, too exhausted to go any further. To her surprise, she felt a nose gently nudge her up. “Just a little farther. Look.”

Obediently, she lifted her head and heard a soft voice on the wind. “Small one, bring your tired paws to me and I will show you the way.” The voice came from nowhere in particular but at that moment, a breeze blew the gray clouds and the world was once again illuminated by the moon’s bright face. 

The cat looked up and the mountain lion extended a leg to her. She hesitated and then climbed up, clinging to the thick fur on his back. He brought her to the top of the mountain and together they reached up to take the gift from the moon. The moon handed the cat a ball of pure moonlight, which glowed brighter than anything she had ever seen in the forest. “Throw the ball to the ground and a shimmering path will show you the way. It won’t last forever, though, and once the moon dust settles to the ground, it will disappear.”

The cat descended from atop the mountain lion and held the light high above her before throwing it to the ground with all her strength. Instead of falling heavily, it floated softly along an invisible path, snaking around boulders and shrubs, through the gnarly pines, and then the tall whooshing ones, all the way back to the cat’s village, far beyond where the big mountain cat and small house cat stood, watching with awe. 

“Well, shall we?” The mountain lion bowed to the cat, indicating he would follow her. She felt taller and bolder than she was before. Perhaps even a little bit wild. She followed the path of luminescent glow with the mountain lion padding along behind her all the way back to her village, where they parted ways with gracious respect. As they walked, their paws pressed the moonlight into the ground, leaving imprints that glow whenever there is a full moon on a cloudless night—a path for both the wild and tame. 

Published by Leah Abbey

I write about nature, parenting, and fiction from my home in the San Diego area. I try to keep this blog updated at least weekly. If you haven't heard from me in a while, it's probably because I've been working on my novel. (Or, just trying to stay sane while my three-year-old runs over his baby sister with a toy school bus.)

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