Written and Illustrated by Toni Donelow Stewart

 

G

enesis stood in the tall grass looking at the skies above him.  He could see the skies were growing a bit darker, he could feel the winds kicking up.  It felt good rippling his fur, as it had been quite a hot day.

            He smiled his finest pussy-cat’s smile and looked around some more but felt he was in no real danger.

            It had been a beautiful day.  He had spent it up high in the sky with the Master in the big puffy hot air balloon, “flying all over creation,” as the Master said.  Genesis adored the great balloon, though he didn’t peer much over the top of the basket, feeling happily safe inside.  He enjoyed the smooth, weightless feeling of traveling inside it.

            He was a tall, but stocky, brown, short-haired feline with bright green eyes and a long tail.  Genesis was leader of all the animals surrounding the big house where he lived . . . or so he believed.

            As Genesis sauntered back toward the balloon, there came suddenly a rushing gust of wind that came down upon him so heavily that he felt himself lift off the ground!

            Startled, and even frightened, Genesis began running toward the house, but the house seemed too far away!  So he ran for the nearest shelter, which was the billowing balloon, running among sticks and leaves and other debris being lifted off the ground and from the trees!  He was running fast and furious, and watched the big red and blue balloon billow as he ran towards it.  But this seemed to be a safe enough place—hadn’t he and the Master felt safe there all day long while up in the air?

            Genesis dove inside the big wicker basket, which was on its side now, and huddled toward the back, which was the bottom of it.  The skies were growing so dark that when he opened his eyes again, there was barely any light.

            He covered his furry ears as thunder rumbled and cracked.  The winds howled and there was a great wild sound, chugging and chugging like a locomotive. He felt nothing but the wind all over his fur, even so far down inside the rocking basket, where he had once felt so safe.

            Genesis found himself covering his ears again and his eyes completely with his paws, as the winds raced through the inside of it, and then he could no longer cover his ears, he had to hold on! Something was lifting the basket!  In fact, it was lifting the whole big balloon!  He could feel it, as his heart sank deeper and deeper inside his little chest, pumping madly, he then heard himself howl a ghastly howl without even knowing he would do it!

            The turbulence lasted for a length of time. Genesis was unable to determine exactly how much time actually passed.  In his dazed state of mind, he felt suddenly overcome by a calm feeling.  He fell all the way to the bottom of the basket and nearly cried.  He was so frightened, he forgot where he was!

 

            The skies had lightened, and the softness of the breeze returned, so he was again able to see.  But before he could gather his wits about him, he noticed another creature was sharing the big wicker basket with him!  And, of all things, it was a mouse!

            “I’m not hungry right now.” Genesis whimpered.

            “That is a good thing,” answered the little brown mouse, “because you cannot eat me.  We have just survived a terrible storm together.”

            “Perhaps when we are back on the ground, I can bring your dead body to my Master, in thankfulness for being able to return.”  Genesis snarled, as if to spite the bossy little creature in front of him.

            “What if we don’t land near the Master’s home?” Pondered the unfrightened little mouse, his whiskers twitching.

            “We SHALL land right where we started, no? We always land right where we begin. That is how these things work!” Genesis insisted, not so surely.

            “Don’t be so sure, Feline. These hot air balloons can travel great distances before landing, you may never see the Master again.”

            The thought of this ending frightened Genesis even moreso than the storm he just experienced.  The Master provided a nice home, lots of food and affection in return for his fine mouse-hunting skills.   He wouldn’t dare lose such a fine cat.

            “Hard to say, Wise Owl,” mocked the mouse, still aware of the fact that the big cat was still too frightened to be hungry.

            “Maybe I should eat you just to spite yourself.” Genesis grumbled, pounding down a big brown paw onto the soft basket bottom.  He was a giant next to the mouse, that was for certain, and a mouse in such a ‘spot’ would be no challenge at all for him.

            “Nah, I’ve been frightened too, meat might be soured.” The whiskers twitched again.

            “Well I’m still not hungry yet.” 

            “Canned food is better.” Smiled the mouse.

            “But you are a mouse and I am a cat.  When we reach the ground, I should eat you.”

            “Why wait then? Eat me now if you so wish?”

            “But,” Genesis stopped, looking directly at the little mouse, and then continued, “you are my only company here up in the skies.”

            “Yes, that would be a good thing to consider,” replied the mouse.

            “But, how are a cat and a mouse to be friends?  When we reach the ground, it is my duty to eat you.”

            “Then you are not my friend,” replied the mouse, sadly.  He crossed his tiny arms.  “Make up your mind!” he snorted.

            The balloon continued to drift along the sky, going which way, they never knew, because they were not in control of it.  However, there was no hot air inside it so it was bound to land in a short while, though the little travelers were unaware.

            “I won’t eat you, I will wait until my Master serves me the canned cat food.  I like that, no bones to pick through.” Genesis muttered.

            “True,” smiled the mouse.

            “So . . I wonder where we are headed?” Genesis remarked, to his new friend.

            “Wherever the winds will blow us, Cat.”

            Genesis climbed to the rim of the basket and looked about the world below, not recognizing anything.  It was all far and distant, far, far below them.

            “We are descending!” Announced the mouse.

            “How do you know that?”

            “Because all of those times you were with the Master, I was inside here too, hiding. When the Master wasn’t looking, I climbed up and sat on one of the sandbags so I could hear more clearly what the Master was saying.”

            “Oh, “ Genesis felt a bit silly, since he had not listened to the Master, rather, he had felt comfortably lazy inside the soft bottom of the basket, purring himself to sleep most of the times they had been in-flight.  It was always a beautiful, lulling experience, just that way.

            Now, however, Genesis felt lost and was still very frightened, though he was trying not to show it to the mouse.

            “What is your name?”  He asked the little creature. “You must have a name?”

            “My name is Maya, thank you.  I already know yours, Genesis.” She added.

            A female mouse, no less, thought Genesis. Hmmm. He scratched his head. 

            “Nice to meet you, Maya.”

            “Thank you Genesis,” she smiled, with bright white little front teeth.

            This is a trip, alright, he thought.

            The great blue and red striped balloon cast down on its descent and came to a landing at the top of a small hill within a meadow.

            They were probably not far from where they began but it seemed like hours had passed!

            Suddenly:  Bump! Bump! Bump!  The great balloon rippled all over the place, dragging the basket behind it, and then it came to a sudden stop as it caught on something.  Perhaps one of the stumps or some branches sticking out from under one of the trees.

            “So?” asked Maya, stepping out onto the now deflated balloon atop of soft grass. “Is my life over? I don’t trust FELINES.”

            “No Maya, your life is spared.  You are my friend.” Smiled the big brown cat, his big green eyes glittering peacefully.

            “Now we must find our way back to the Master.” He added.

            “Oh, he is not my Master, I may stay here and live.  I am not fond of the country house. I think I might stay out in the wild for a time.” She gracefully scratched her head with a tiny wistful paw.

            “You are not sure?” Genesis asked.

            “Not really. But maybe I will walk back with you, so you won’t be alone.” She comforted with her little voice.

            Genesis smiled again, quite happy with the idea that Maya would follow him home, wherever home was.

            “I think we came from this direction,” Maya pointed north.

            “Perhaps.” He agreed.

            “Are you getting hungry yet?” She asked.

            “Not for mouse.” He replied.

            “Oh okay,” she laughed, “how about some mushrooms?”

            Genesis chuckled when Maya pointed out some juicy looking fresh growing mushrooms near some underbrush.

            “Those may well do, but do they taste as rotten as they look?” He wondered.

            “No, you will probably like them more than you think, Genesis, being that they will help chase away that feline hunger.”

            “True”

            With that, he swiped some of the mushrooms and shared them with Maya.  Making a face, he said: “Yes, they do taste quite rotten but I can see they will fill my growling stomach.”

            “That is a good thing,” winked Maya, still unsure of him, but definitely becoming more sure of him than before.

            The two unlikely friends walked side by side in the direction that Maya was sure they had blown in from, hoping to find their way back to the Master’s country house back in the valley.

            As they walked, Maya’s little legs grew tired, so Genesis placed her on top of his back and continued the long walk.  It remained a slow pace for him, and anxious to get home where life was safe and warm, he had no intention of stopping.  He simply continued onward.

            They walked over more hills and through a bit of a thick woods, until finally there was something recognizable nature, which was the town.  Neither animal had been there often but both knew it.

            “Yes, I think we are heading in the right direction!”  Maya announced.

            “I agree.”

            They sauntered by some shops and nobody seemed to notice the little brown mouse perched on top of the brown cat’s head.  Except perhaps the mice in town, who gasped and staggered in fear, but at the same time, they knew not to be afraid.  Genesis was a changed animal; it seemed, like no other cat they had ever seen.

            Genesis and Maya continued on, through a small forest again, and finally to the open fields of the Master’s estate. Yes indeed, they had gone in the right direction and now were truly headed for HOME.

 

Moral of this story: Know who your friends are and treasure them.

The End