Ellen and Eve were best friends. Ellen lived in an apartment with Eve, her cat, while she went to college–Ellen went to school, that is, not the cat. Eve was a pretty little kitty with fluffy gray fur and beautiful yellow-green eyes.
The two of them loved living together. Ellen was always laying out papers and textbooks for Eve to sleep on, and in return for Eve looking cute and being so helpful with Ellen’s homework, Ellen gave Eve only the best cat food. Eve spent most of her time grooming and washing herself, sleeping, or helping Ellen. Ellen spent most of her time adoring Eve and doing schoolwork.
When Ellen went to school during the day, Eve had the apartment to herself. In her free time, Eve would stare out the window at the crazy birds, groom herself even more, or rest up so she could welcome Ellen home later with especial enthusiasm. Eve liked the quiet and the freedom, but she always missed Ellen.
One day while Ellen was at school, Eve was taking a nap on the couch. It was a cozy little warm spot with lots of blankets and good cat smells. Eve fell right asleep. Suddenly, Eve was awakened by a bunch of weird noises! The people who owned Ellen’s apartment were coming into Ellen’s apartment while she was gone to make sure the fire alarm still worked, which they did every year.
But Eve didn’t know this. She didn’t understand who these loud people were who walked heavy and talked with low voices. Panicking, Eve jumped up to run away, but there were legs everywhere and she didn’t know where to go! Eve wanted to hide, to go where the people couldn’t find her. A light appeared behind them, and without thought, Eve ran towards it.
She ran and ran until she couldn’t hear the people anymore. But now she heard new things. Eve stopped to look around. Where was she?
Everything was really bright. She heard those crazy birds, too, but louder than usual. Also, there were so many smells! Eve looked around her, totally overwhelmed. This wasn’t Ellen’s apartment anymore! This seemed to be, Eve realized, The Outside.
Eve sat down and started crying. “I don’t belong in The Outside!” Eve wailed. “I just want to go home and get these dirty smells off!”
Eve continued to sit and cry until a voice stopped her.
“What the heck ya doing here, causing a scene?”
Eve startled. It was a woodpecker, who had approached her. He had a red Mohawk and a blade of grass sticking out the side of his mouth.
Eve glanced at him. The woodpecker looked a little scary and kind of dirty. Eve chose to ignore him, and turned away, her nose up in the air. Birds were crazy.
“Lady?” the woodpecker asked, circling Eve to make eye contact.
“I’m sorry, bird, were you speaking to me?” Eve asked begrudgingly.
“Who else would I be talking to? You’re the only one sitting out in the middle of this field just waiting for a hawk to come swoop you up,” the woodpecker said, chewing on his grass.
Eve yelped and ran for cover, running close to the ground towards the forest line. It would be safer, some part of her felt.
The woodpecker followed her, of course, and once under cover of the trees, he analyzed her once again. “You’re clearly an outsider to The Outside. What’s your deal?”
Realizing how much she reeked, Eve started washing herself. “I’m Eve, and I don’t know how I got here but I need to find Ellen’s apartment,” she said between licks. “Not that I owe you an explanation.”
The woodpecker shrugged. “Classic. Pretty little princess trying to find her way home. Good luck, you’ll never find it. You’re lost now, Your Majesty.”
Eve glared at him but continued to wash herself. There were twigs and grass and dirt all tangled up in her gorgeous fur. “Excuse you, but your opinions don’t matter to me because you’re a bird.”
The woodpecker spit out the grass blade. “You don’t even know me!”
“And you don’t even know me!” Eve retorted.
“Touché,” the woodpecker admitted. “Well, I’m Vick. And I know I’m a bird, but birds are cool. Especially me. And I know you’re a cat but I know what it’s like to be lost, so I’ll help you find your way to…”
“Ellen’s,” Eve finished for him. She was done washing herself and stood up. “Glad you’ve come around, Mr. Vick, but I don’t need your help.” She flicked her tail and walked off.
But soon her confidence turned into fear again and Eve was cowering at weird animal calls, strange mechanical noises, and small creatures, like garden snakes and bumblebees.
“Watch where you’re walking, Fancy Feet!” a little striped snake hollered at Eve for stepping on him when he was under a leaf. Eve was unsettled but thought to herself that her paws really were fancy, and kind of beautiful.
She was tiptoeing through some brush when a loud call swooped by and startled her.
“Vick!” she shouted angrily, having recognized his voice. He landed in a fit of laughter next to her. “You dirty rotten jerk!” She started washing herself to calm down.
“What did you just call me?” he asked.
“Sorry, you just gave me a heart attack. That’s what Ellen calls the people who do bad things to her.”
“How’s the search coming along? Did you make it home yet?” Vick chuckled.
Eve ignored him and washed her back. “I am making progress,” she announced.
“You’d probably be faster if ya didn’t cry every three seconds. You’re a crybaby!”
“Excuse you!” Eve said defensively. “There is nothing wrong with crying!”
“Well maybe sometimes, but other times you gotta act tough to get by! Then you cry later.”
Eve looked at him suspiciously, not totally buying what Vick said.
“Really! I bet you have it in you to make it in the wild, if you really believed in yourself. You can’t be helpless, you gotta stand up and tell everyone not to mess with you!”
“Noted,” Eve said, “but that sounds an awful lot like you helping me, and I’m pretty sure I already told you I didn’t want any of that.”
“Your help. Goodbye.”
Eve walked off. She was pretty sure she had picked up a scent that could get her back to Ellen’s. Ellen always smelled salty and warm, and Eve smelled something in the air much like that. As she approached the source of it, Eve started hearing more and more machines. She began feeling nervous, but she thought of Ellen’s tender pets and sweet voice and kept going. She could make out a giant yellow and red sign in the distance. Maybe that marked Ellen’s apartment.
Suddenly Eve heard snarling. She looked over, and it was coming from a dumpster about thirty feet away from her behind the building with the sign. There were some people walking around the parking lot on the other side of the building. Maybe they knew Ellen! Eve was sure that they would know about her, because Ellen must tell everyone about her amazing cat. Eve felt hopeful.
But as Eve was making her way across the parking lot, the snarling from the dumpster got louder. She looked at it nervously and paused. What was that noise?
Eve jumped up as a fat, rabid creature popped up, spotted Eve, and started sprinting towards her. It looked like a cat, but it was fatter and had a long snout, and dark circles around its eyes. Eve started running back to the tree cover, and away from the parking lot, to her disappointment. She had been so close! But now a ferocious monster was chasing after her and she didn’t know how long she could keep the full sprint up.
However, as she was running as fast as her short legs could run, she remembered one of the really weird noises she had heard earlier. The trees were looking familiar, so she cut left and ran straight up to the cave of a bear! At the last second, she leaped to the side, and the raccoon that had been chasing her bumped right into the butt of a bear! Eve didn’t stick around to see what happened next, but she stopped running to catch her breath as soon as she was out of sight.
“Oh my god, don’t scare me like that! I mean, I know I told you to believe in yourself, but taking on a rabid raccoon twice your size?! Are you crazy?”
Eve looked around frantically, and Vick landed next to her, talking a mile a minute.
“I was so scared! I wanted to help, but if YOU can’t take on a raccoon, certainly I can’t! I mean, I’m tough, but size matters a little bit in the pecking order of things! And the pecking order of things is my speciality, as a woodpecker! And so I was gonna get my friends, but I don’t have those, and so I felt helpless…”
“Vick!” Eve said, laughing. “It’s fine! I made it!” She sighed and smiled. “And it felt really good to save myself.” Eve paused. “Wait, have you been following me this whole time?”
Vick looked at his feet bashfully. “Uh, I just wanted to make sure you made it all right.”
Eve frowned. “You didn’t need to watch over me like that.”
“I know that now,” Vick admitted. “Well, now that you know you’re tougher than you think, I’m sure you’ll be just fine now.”
“I’m sorry I doubted you because you were a bird, since we’re ere apologizing now,” Eve said.
Vick shrugged. “It’s okay. We both know better now.”
They sat there in quiet for a minute, listening to the background sounds of nature.
“Well, I still need to get back to Ellen’s.”
“You still haven’t figured that out yet?” Vick said, astounded. “It’s right over there!” He lifted his wing to point.
“What?! You mean you knew where it was this whole time?!” Eve cried.
“I’m a bird, for crying out loud! Of course I’ve got this whole town mapped out!”
“Why didn’t you tell me!” Eve shouted, smacking herself in the face in disbelief.
“You didn’t want my help, Big Shot,” Vick countered.
Eve couldn’t argue with that, and by then she was so tired after her crazy day that she just wanted to go home and warm up. Vick led the way and Eve followed.
Soon enough, she could see the familiar old window Eve used to sit at and glare at the birds.
“Funny how I used to sit there, not having any idea what all was out here,” she commented out loud.
“Don’t be a stranger now that you know,” Vick said. “You’re kind of the coolest cat I know.”
They arrived at Ellen’s door and Eve turned to Vick. “And you don’t have such a bad brain for a bird. Wanna wait with me until Ellen comes home from school? I can’t really open doors.”
So Eve and Vick waited on Ellen’s porch for an hour until Ellen got home, the pair just sitting and talking about their lives and experiences. When the headlights finally pulled up, Vick flew away back to his tree, promising to stop by every now and then to stay in touch.
“Eve! What are you doing out here!” Ellen cried, getting out of her car and running to pick up Eve. Eve purred and rubbed against Ellen’s face, as Ellen quickly whisked them inside.
“How in the WORLD did you get out? You must have had such a wild day! Oh, and all these twigs in your fur…”