It’s a weeknight at the cottage and Steph and I are sat on the couch talking about our work day. Willow jumps up the step into the living room and sits herself down with a short, sharp meow.
As Steph and I both stop our conversation and look up at the black figure in the doorway she stares back at us expectantly and sounds another short, sharp meow.
Has she had first dinner? Steph asks.
Yep, I reply.
Has she had second dinner? Steph asks.
Yes, she has, I reply.
Willow walks a few steps towards us and sits again, her gaze unbreaking.
Steph looks down at her watch and everything is clear – it’s bed time and Willow knows it.
Now, I must make one thing clear. Willow has little tolerance for circumstances that may rob her of her precious sleep. And, although a cat may have many preferred sleeping spots around their home, at this hour, for this cat, only one place will do. Not even the blanket that covers our laps would suffice.
Steph and I continue talking, hoping that we can bide ourselves a short moment to finish our conversation. But, Willow is insistent.
She steps forward once again with another short, sharp meow, and Steph and I know we must concede.
As we stand up, discarding the blanket, Willow sprints out of the room as we follow at our own pace. In the hallway she waits, her tail swishing from side to side, until we have brushed our teeth.
As we climb into bed one might expect this little cat to be waiting there for us at the end of the bed, after all, is it not her objective to lay there on the soft, warm blankets and fall asleep?
If this were the case then she would have made her way there herself, without pressing Steph and I into another early night.
Her objective, so it seems, is to have her humans with her as she tucks herself in at a reasonable hour. For a cat knows not of the sincere importance us humans place in bad TV, evening work emails, and online realestate browsing on blinding screens that melt our brains.
No she does not. But, she knows of the sincere quality of time.
Those moments between moments where the cottage is quiet except for the wind that rustles the trees and the possum that scurries across the roof.
Steph and I are tucked in now with the warm blankets up to our noses, and one might expect that Willow is there too, but this is not the case.
It is not until we switch off the light that she does one last lap of the cottage to check everything is as it should be, before jumping up onto the bed and settling by our legs.
Willow has now achieved her objective. She has won, and she can fall asleep now knowing her humans are where they need to be.
Out of the silence Steph and I contemplate for a moment the notion of a cat enforcing our bed time, but as we hear Willow lift her head we hush.
Goodnight Willow, I whisper.
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