The room was bathed in a soft, ethereal glow, as if the very walls whispered secrets about the strange world outside. A gentle hum of the ceiling fan provided the backdrop noise, while the occasional, distant barking and meowing from the neighborhood served to break the monotony. Asleep next to the lifeless fireplace, Max shared this curious silence with his friend, Maggie.
They hadn’t always been friends but as years scraped by, their anger towards each other had subsided, and in its place, more than a tolerance had entered. Not pals, at least not like Maggie’s pal, Lady (that whining Golden Retriever that stops by when his owner walks the neighborhood). No, not pals… comrades?…no, buddies?…no, that’s not it either. Friends. That’s the word. We are friends, Max thought.
Max reclined on the windowsill, his tail swishing lazily back and forth like an oversized feather duster. He watched the world beyond with an air of feline indifference, as if he'd seen it all and couldn't be bothered to care. Suddenly, his bright green eyes were fixed on a pair of squirrels chittering in the yard, their antics a reminder of the absurdity of the outside world. Why do they taunt me? wondered Max, they are nuts! Well, at least they are outside, he thought to himself as he inspected a paw that needed licking…again.
On the other side of the room, Maggie lay sprawled out on the fuzzy blanket next to the couch, her tongue lolling out the side of her mouth. She occasionally snored softly, her doggy dreams a source of great amusement for Max. She smiled quietly at him but not so he could notice. In her way, Maggie was dumb but not stupid. She learned so many tricks over the years, tricks that Max would have learned so much faster, but then, whenever her ball landed in the blankets, Maggie was perplexed. She couldn’t seem to find it at all and ended up searching the entire house as if it had magically disappeared. Come on, Maggie! It is right there!
The room felt like a big playroom, but it had a quietness about it, and almost an air of familiarity that had prompted this odd couple to occasionally tease each other and to eventually become, well, friends. Familiar sounds like the wind whistled through the small gap in the old windowsill while the clock kept the cadence of seconds that it had marked for years.
Maggie's left ear twitched, and she let out a muffled, woof in her sleep. What are you chasing now? Max thought with a smirk. Well, sometimes you do say smart things in your sleep, just not today.
As the clock slowly chimed the hour, Maggie lifted one heavy eye and noticed a hint of a smile on Max. Not much going on outside, obviously, if I’m your entertainment.
Max couldn't help but chuckle inwardly at the dog's laziness. Maggie could sleep for hours while he could snatch a few winks and be back to, well, watching Maggie again. He arched his back, turning himself into a perfect, question mark-shaped caricature of a cat, and then slowly straightened out. It was his way of saying, I have much more interesting things to think about, Maggie.
Maggie, however, stood up from her sleep with one ear laid over the top of her head. Ridiculous, thought Max. Maggie decided something needed licking and so she licked it. A quiet jingling sounded as she got to her feet and trotted over to the water bowl. Slurping loudly, Max couldn’t stand the noise, but Maggie never got the hint that it annoyed him. Best way to drown it out is to drink at the same time, Max thought, so, that became their ritual. Quietly drinking water beside Maggie was something that never would have happened when they first met.
It was so many years ago, Max didn’t really know how long it had been. Maggie had just always been there. In fact, when Maggie first saw Max, he was only 5 weeks old. Maggie had been friends with another cat, Precious. She was there when Precious was born and couldn’t even open her eyes. Out of the five kittens born in that litter, Precious was special. She would often groom Precious as a kitten and Precious learned to love Maggie. They snuggled close when storms hit outside and Precious would dig her claws and bury her face in Maggie’s neck. Maggie even let Precious chase her ball. As she grew, they would even wrestle. The house became so quiet when Precious was lost, scared away by fireworks. When Max showed up, a little mewling ball of black fur, Maggie thought Max would want to wrestle like Precious. He didn’t. Hissing and clawing at Maggie was their introduction.
Max sometimes acted like a dog and chased Maggie’s ball occasionally, but it didn’t have the same appeal as it seemed to have for Maggie. Maggie could run after that tennis ball until she was gasping for breath. Then she’d stop and rest, like a miniature sphinx if sphinxes had pink tongues and black fur. Max could watch this go on and on and until he was tired and needed a nap. Eventually, Maggie would nap also and the thump of the ball, the scratching of nails on the hardwood floor and the panting would subside.
While Maggie was interested in everything going on outside, Max was only slightly curious. Maggie would warn everyone in the house if there were other dogs or cars or people or dogs or squirrels or packages or dogs, really, just about anything out of the ordinary going on. It was exciting, like an adventure right outside the door, and occasionally, Maggie would get to go outside to investigate.
Max thought, Why does Maggie even want to go outside? I mean, it does smell good out there but anytime I get out, all I want to do is get back in! Just leave the door open a bit, I’ll sniff it and that’ll be enough adventure for me.
Maggie’s barking at the mail delivery startled Max and he tried not to show it. Max yawned and hopped down from the windowsill, his paws landing with an exaggerated grace. He sauntered over to a sunbeam streaming through the curtains and flopped down, his plume-like tail curling around him. The implication was clear: Max couldn’t be bothered with such noise.
Max rolled on his back, something he never would have done around Maggie when they first met and closed his eyes in the sunlight. Whap! Maggie’s ball landed right on Max’s head and Max could hear Maggie’s paws skitter across the hardwood right before she slammed into him.
Like a shot, Max flipped over, and bounded up on the couch, then over to the chair and up the back, deftly coming to perch on the upholstered arch. Maggie chased Max as much as she could but the leap from the couch to the chair was too much and with a thump, she landed back on the hardwood floor.
Max sunk his claws into the padding and he gazed down at Maggie with an air of quiet triumph. His stance proclaimed, I certainly have the high ground.
This time, however, Maggie didn’t give up and jumped up onto the chair to try and reach Max. Leaping from the chair, Max landed quietly but the chair nudged the small coffee table next to it and they watched in slow motion as the vase perched on top wobbled and came tumbling down with a crash sending pieces scattered all around the room. Their mistress would undoubtedly scold them later, but for now, they exchanged guilt-ridden glances that seemed to say, Well, that wasn't part of the plan.
They spent the rest of the day indulging in their own peculiar brand of one-upmanship, taking turns at being clever, amusing, sneaky and endearing. The room transformed into an arena of sorts, where they alternately scared and then ignored each other.
In the end, as the sun dipped below the horizon and the room darkened, Maggie gave Max a sheepish smile. It was an unspoken truce, an acknowledgment that they were in this together, locked in this room with no choice but to make the best of their shared predicament.
Max hopped down from his bookshelf perch and joined Maggie on the couch, the two of them curling up together in the dim light. They might have started as rivals, but in the silent language of their banter, they had discovered a common bond—a shared mischievous spirit that made even the mundane moments together an adventure.
As their mistress finally returned home, she found the room in a state of disarray, with a shattered vase on the floor and her beloved cat and dog nestled together on the couch, the very picture of companionship. She couldn't help but smile at the sight, realizing that, in their own way, they had come to understand each other and might just even be friends.
About the Creator
”What haven’t you done?” was the question from my friend. My stories come from humble beginnings as the twin son of a single mom in Georgia to an airline pilot flying the world. My stories, hopefully, reflect the fact that we are all alike.