Every story tells one truth and two lies but this story...well, I can’t say because that would be telling and aren’t storytellers always supposed to show? Looks like you’ll be stuck with a, what do they call us, an unreliable narrator. But don’t hold that against me just yet. You may find more truth in this than you’re expecting. It just depends on where you look, doesn’t it?
Call me Bejame. Or Jame. Or BJay. Or PJ even. No, wait. Not PJ. That option belongs to someone else. My full name is extraordinarily long and rightly pretentious and I won’t bog down your puny mind with its full splendor. So pick a nickname and we’ll go with it.
It started with rain. Not my name, of course, but the story, this story. It was raining, drenching the world with lakes of precipitation as if the sky were trying to drown the earth itself. I had never been in this area of the world before, an unexpected stop on my journey with all thanks due to the dismal weather. I was understandably the most miserable creature on the face of the earth.
Because I was out in it, you dolt. My emotions are not so closely tied to something as banal as the weather like they are with you people. I was miserable because I was darn wet. Notice how I make this appropriate for younger audiences. I’m always looking out for the young ones. Yes, yes, I know. The story. Get to it. You people are always so impatient. Good stories are like good groomings. They are long and cover everything. So that’s enough imaginary interjections from you. I was miserable.
And I was wet and yes, rather resembled a drowned rat. Though I’m sure I still looked a sight better than you on your best days. I had taken shelter from the downpour in the only place available: the hollow between roots of a not very large tree. No, I don’t know what kind, I wasn’t paying attention. Let’s make it an oak. Every story makes the tree an oak. And there I was. Under the roots of an oak tree, not any drier from it, but trying anyway and after a while had snuggled down deep enough into the nook that I was possibly not getting wetter. Exempting the occasional fat drip onto my head. However, after a very tight and squished quasi-bath, I was feeling warmer and less drowned rat-ish, though I won’t go so far as to say dry. I don’t think I’ve been dry since. Not warm in any case. No, not warm.
It was night when the rain lessened somewhat, coming down more like small ponds than lakes, and I perceived a sound through the roar that I hadn’t heard before, and before you start harping, you wouldn’t have heard at all, so there. Someone was crying. Someone little.
Despite the wisdom of staying where I was—it was wet—someone little was crying. It is my sacred duty to attend to all crying little things. Now, yes, that does sometimes entail dinner, but I have to eat, same as you, do I not? And this was a different case entirely. I slunk out into the torrent as low to the ground as I could go until I came to a metal park bench. Curled into a tiny ball underneath it was a child. It couldn’t have been more than three years old.
You people. You don’t take care of your kits.
It turns out I wasn’t the most miserable thing on the earth: this dear thing was. I nuzzled my way down next to the poor crying thing, snuggling under its arm to come up near its head. It was just as wet as I was, and squealed when I first touched it, but upon seeing me, its eyes widened into water-swollen circles. This close to it, I was able to discern that the child was a little tom.
“K-kitty?” the kit whimpered. The question mark was understandable. I didn’t look like much in my current state, but neither would you. It was darned wet.
“Hello, little kit,” I said.
“My name, is, is, Merwy,” the child corrected through his tears.
“Of course, it is. My mistake. My name is Bartemejin-Jegraine.”
“Close. Just call me…BJay.”
I sighed. “It’ll do. Though, do try to emphasis the ‘J’ at least. Why are you out in the rain, kit?”
“Merwy.” The child wasn’t crying anymore, but he was shivering. I didn’t know where to put him, obviously or I’d have been there instead of under a tree, but I had to get him somewhere. This was no place or weather for a kit.
“Merry,” I conceded. “Why don’t you follow me, Merry? We’ll get you somewhere dry?”
The boy thought it over I suppose, not that I really think three year olds are capable of complicated thoughts. Though if there was an exception, I suppose it would have been Merry. He made up his mind after a bit and followed me out from under the bench. As luck, or fortune, or destiny, or my starry ancestors, or what have you, would have it, there was a shelter. Not sixty yards away from my miserable tree.
I’m taking narrator liberties here and skipping the trip to the boathouse on the edge of the pond. I’m also skipping the search for an opening Merry could fit through, saving him from nearly falling into the lake, and the precarious business of getting a three year old into an unused rowboat (not in the water before you even think of raising objections, so shush. I didn’t see you out in the rain in the middle of night looking after the kit. So just, just…shh. No comments from you ridiculously irresponsible and terrible people. I may not be a queen, but I at least know how to take care of kits). In the end, we were both there, nestled down in the old boat on top of an old tarp, another one stretched over the edges of the boat to make a sort of cave. I made sure Merry wrapped himself in the first tarp then gave myself a quick grooming, drying myself best I could before burrowing into the child’s arms right against his chest. I groomed his hair a little bit so he’d start drying, then just settled down and purred the poor thing to sleep. He shivered until the darkest part of the night, the coldest part of the night. And then he stopped.
I could tell you all sorts of things that happened next, unbelievable but true and plausible but lies, but I think I’ll leave us, Merry and I, there, in the boathouse where we were found the next day. I’ll leave us in our cold, wet tranquility before the newspapers and stories and anguish and all you foolish people, because I like it there better. What do you need an ending for anyway? You always make one whether someone else wants it or no. How much of this story is a lie? None as far as I’m concerned. No newspaper could tell the story properly anyway. They can’t even imagine how…the grief….the guilt…But it wasn’t my fault. I did more than any of you. I at least tried. And if you say you read the article, or heard it differently, well, you’re a liar. You weren’t there. I was. Say otherwise, and you’ll have a very angry person with a very long name after you ready to claw your eyes out. And that is truth.
[Actually, a disclaimer, now that it's done. This has a different name but I can't remember it for the life of me, so now it has two names. Did you really need to know that? No, but now I'm in the habit of leaving you people notes, so that's your fun behind-the-scenes fact for the day. I know. Amazing right? How did you ever get by without knowing that before? Tune in next time for more Fun Relatively Speaking in a Matter of Perspective Facts by E. Farris. -E. Farris (Though, in retrospect, I wonder why I bother signing them off. Who else is going to leave notes?)]