A big parcel arrived for me yesterday.
It was very exciting. Big parcels are the stuff of which dreams are made.
They are on a par with rainbows and sunbeams and chocolate.
For me, at least. For certain felines (naming no names), they are the embodiment of nightmares.
Mouth took one look at the box and was filled with a mix of terror and incomprehension.
His initial reaction was to panic and flee.
I knew better than to go after him. Sympathy would only reinforce his despair.
Sure enough, eventually he slithered back downstairs with a look of forced bravado. He gave the box a tentative sniff.
When this did not result in his immediate demise, he got brave enough to jump on top of it. (This process alone would be a separate post; Mouth believes he is built for climbing rather than leaping. He never really got past the curtain-clambering kitten phase. When he tries to propel himself upwards with his hind legs, like a normal creature, he becomes a flailing mess of limbs and claws and fur.)
For a while, Mouth sat bravely astride the box. He kept giving little show-off grunts in Tail's general direction.
When at last he hunched down like a tabby blancmange, I knew he had conquered the box, and I was proud of him. It was a small step for a cat, but a giant leap for Mouthkind.
I did a few jobs around the house, and when I came back downstairs I noticed how much the box was cluttering up the hallway.
Mouth had abandoned his new cardboard friend and was busily growling at an ant, so I moved the box into the lounge.
Little did I realise how catastrophic this act would prove to be.
In its new surroundings, the box was a greater and more deadly enemy than Mouth had previously imagined. With thuggish conspirators like sofas and tables, the threat multiplied a thousandfold.
You can guess what happened next.
When, some hours later, his pride got the better of him, Mouth slunk back into the lounge.
He sat on the beanbag, a safe distance away, and regarded the box the way a banana might regard a smoothie-maker.
G-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y, he inched closer to it.
When he was about a metre away from the box, an unfamiliar expression crossed his face. It was an expression of vague recognition.
Needless to say, the expression was accompanied by the Sideways Head of Confusion.
Even comprehension confuses poor Mouth. He does not expect to understand things.
I'm pleased to say that Mouth has now come to accept the box. He rubs up against it. He licks it. He uses it as a sunbathing pedestal.
I hardly dare tell him that I need to open it.