by Sharman Horwood
Never underestimate the persistence of an ordinary cat when it wants to make you feel better. For the nineteen years of her life, Tinkerbell believed I needed to be looked after. When migraines clamped down, for instance, the pain driving me to a dark room for the day, Tink came too. She’d curl up next to me, staying until the pain left, often leaving just as it subsided.
One day I wrenched the muscles in my back. The pain was unbelievable. I don’t know how I did it, whether lifting heavy boxes or just twisting the wrong way. But I was in agony. I took pain killers, muscle relaxants, and laid down on the couch, waiting for the pain to go.
Tink didn’t have her own cat door, but she did know about an unlatched basement window which served the same purpose. Shortly after I laid down, I heard it go thunk. Tink pattered quickly up the stairs, jumping up on my chest. This was odd. She was on me, not curling up at my side.
I pushed her off. But there was something else that didn’t go with her. And it moved! I flicked on the light. Blinking up at me, its nose near my chin, was a mouse. Alive.
I shrieked. I’m not afraid of mice but I’d never had one quite this close before. I grabbed it, jumped up, and tossed it outside. Tink followed, a little unwillingly. I shut the door, lowered myself cautiously back down to the couch, the pulled muscles all the while screaming with pain.
Fifteen minutes later the basement window thumped again. Tink trotted up the stairs, and jumped up—again, dropping the stunned mouse on my chest.
I caught it by the tail and hurled it out the door, Tink following at my firm request. I laid back down, pain receding. I sighed gratefully. The painkillers were finally kicking in.
Two minutes later, the window thudded again. Tink barely landed, mouse in mouth, before I lept to my feet. The mouse flew out the door, followed by one very persistent cat muttering a few things about humans not recognizing a good thing when they had it. Or that’s what I imagined she was saying. She was never one to mince words.
This time I quickly hobbled downstairs to lock the basement window.
As I laid back down on the couch, though, I noticed the agony in my back had faded. I tentatively twisted my shoulder. Definitely much less. I could move it easily; the pain was a weak memory. All my leaping about had worked where medication hadn’t.
Apparently, Tink was right. A live mouse is the best medicine for what ails you.
Sharman Horwood is a science fiction/fantasy writer who teaches ESL in Seoul, South Korea. Her first published short story is in CATFANTASTIC IV, and she has written a textbook published in Korea for ESL, titled NORTH AMERICAN DISCUSSIONS OF TODAY. In between writing two novels, one of which is a sequel to an Andre Norton novel, she has also collaborated on an alternate history novel, QUEEN OF IRON YEARS, with New Zealand writer, Lyn McConchie.