The Great Cat
And his very good friend
“Théo, mon ami, when you said you had need of me to finish a most inspiring piece, I came running, non?”
There was a grunt behind the easel followed by the sound of furious brushstrokes.
“I had to dodge horses and donkeys and the feet of the people outside. So much so I nearly did not see the dogs. That blasted pack that parades up and down Rue Tourlaque. Pah! But I was clever, see. I lost them when I climbed the trees…”
“Hush, Simon. I am trying to concentrate.”
“Please - do not let me distract you. So, I climbed the trees, the hounds barking and baying oh so fierce and I thought, Simon, this is it, the Lord has marked you and has sent his dreadful servant to collect. And no one would appear before poor Théo in his hour of need and - aie!”
There was a sigh and a man leaned over to peer from behind the easel. “Colette, my dear, please be gentle with my friend.”
To which a high and piping voice replied, “oui, Papa,” and a small hand proceeded to flatten the fur along Simon’s back.
“Easy, easy!” Simon tried to slink away from the girl but she followed his every move. He groaned when she tugged him closer to her body. “Truly, this can’t be what you meant when you said you needed inspiration. We’re famous after all!”
“There is something I wish to capture and both you and Colette are a part of it.” Simon watched as Théo ducked back behind his easel. “It will be a masterpiece, I just know it.”
“So you say.” Simon squinted as Colette pulled his ears behind his head.
“You doubt me, old friend?”
“Non, mais, you must agree that this sitting is much different from the one I did for your last masterpiece.”
“And yet it still couldn’t keep Le Chat Noir from closing its doors!”
Simon heard the anger in Théo’s brush and winced. “Come now. The cabaret was Salis and Salis the cabaret. When he passed - may God have mercy on his soul - it was almost expected that he would take his work with him. Tragic, but expected.”
“I will create something that will endure,” he heard Théo grumble, “no matter what happens or how long it takes!” Then, to Simon’s dismay he tore a sheet of oil paper from his board and tossed it aside.
“Surely there was something salvageable there,” Simon protested, but all Théo’ said was, “try to hold that pose." He proceeded to swish his brush in a small, tin cup. The sharp smell of turpentine stung Simon’s nose and he sneezed. Colette chortled above him and wiped his face with her little hands. That made Simon sneeze even more.
“You know, Théo,” he said after Théo’s brushstrokes became less harsh and more focused. “If you’re having trouble, why not take your work outside? That new tower is complete, after all.”
Théo grumbled under his breath, but Simon heard every word. “How Eiffel managed to get the world to love that skeletal husk is beyond me.”
“You never know what you like until you paint it,” Simon purred. “Paint me lounging atop of it and it would make what we did with Le Chat Noir look like child’s play.”
Simon perked up as Théo dropped his brush into the tin can. He watched as the man leaned over to peer at him. “Hmmm…”
Simon leapt to his feet.
“Believe me, mon ami!” he said with relish. “Forget the successes of the past and look to the glory of your future! Your name and mine shall be known far and wide and - mrrooww!”
Colette cried out with glee. “Papa! Look how tall Monsieur Simon is!”
The girl had toddled up behind Simon and now held him close to her body, her arms circled around his chest. Simon struggled and turned wide, golden eyes up at Théo.
“Save me!” he cried. His hind legs danced to keep his balance while the girl swayed and giggled. “Théo, please!”
But Théo’s thoughtful expression had brightened and, with a sinking heart, Simon watched him tear down his board and grab the nearest canvas.
“That’s it!” he exclaimed. “Colette, hold him. Simon, stop struggling - ”
“Théo!” Simon whined. He kicked out as Colette giggled and held him closer. “I thought we were friends!”
“We are, mon ami! And this will be remembered!”
Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923) was the Swiss-born French painter known for his love for cats. Among his most famous works was the iconic poster he painted for Rodolphe Salis’ cabaret, Le Chat Noir (1896), which closed down after Rodolphe’s death in 1897 (before reopening 10 years later). Théophile and his wife, Emile, had one daughter named Colette. A Small Girl With a Cat (1889) is believed to be a full length portrait of Colette as a toddler.
Thank you for lingering.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Great story concept! Merci!
Absolutely charming story!! 😍😍 Those french accents were divine. Really loved the idea of a story paired with a famous picture. Well done! ❤️
I absolutely love this! ❤
Tres bon ami, 😀 well written and moved along tres bon ❤️
haha, I really enjoyed the French accents! And the picture at the end was perfect. Poor Simon! 😆
Wonderful story threading the magnificent art. Spectacular writing. Love this. 🥰
Oh, I came back to reread it - glad I did... I thought I left a comment the first time. I enjoyed this story, Loryne! I also thought it was clever and was impressed that you were able to draw inspiration from history. The scene was charming and so visual. And poor, poor Monsieur Simon in the hands of Collette!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this charming and playful story, which beautifully captures the artist's love for cats and the inspiration they can provide.💝💖💗
Whoaaaa this is historical fiction! I'm always amazed by those who can pull this off. You did an awesome job!
Quite the engaging story... I enjoyed it.
This is great. I love that you were able to take something from art history and turn it into a story. Well done.