Illustrated by Toni Donelow Stewart
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
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
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
“That is a good thing,” answered the
little brown mouse, “because you cannot eat me.
We have just survived a terrible storm
“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
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
“Why wait then? Eat me now if you so
“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
remarked, to his new friend.
“Wherever the winds will blow us,
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
“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
They were probably not far from
where they began but it seemed like hours had
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
“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
“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
“Not for mouse.” He replied.
“Oh okay,” she laughed, “how about
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.”
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
“That is a good thing,” winked Maya,
still unsure of him, but definitely becoming
more sure of him than
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
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.
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
Moral of this story:
Know who your
friends are and treasure them.