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One Hour

© by Aleta Jacobson
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The hour is one a.m. Most everyone is asleep. I'm lying in bed with the cat at my feet, wondering when I will fall into slumber. A throaty purring drifts up from the foot of the bed. I move to find another uncomfortable position. My cat, Lara, stirs and lets out a meow like she wants to be asleep, and I have disrupted her. With slow stretching movements, she stands, meows at me and walks up to the edge of the bed. I open my eyes to see her giving me a glare. Her eyes look like golden embers in the dark. I stretch out my hand to scratch her ears, and she steps closer. With deliberate steps, she lifts up one foot, a second, third and fourth until she is now standing on my shoulder and side. She collapses and wraps over me like a shawl. Lara's nose is now in my ear, and the throaty purring has started up again. I move my hand around and stroke the soft fur on the top of her head. She lets her claws out. The ones on her front paws penetrate the skin on my shoulder and neck. Her breathing deepens. She nuzzles into my neck and ear. I continue to rub the fur. Some places are so soft it's like there really isn't anything under my fingers. It's like fluffing a cloud. Our bodies are melting together.

I open my eyes and see she is asleep. The temperature is rising to an uncomfortable level. A drop of moisture has collected at the base of my head. I roll my eyes around and look at the clock. The numbers, 1:45 glow red, and I moan to myself. The moisture rolls down from my head, and the furnace that has been stoked in my body since I turned 47 is now glowing hot. Its instant on button has been depressed, and the heat is blazing.

Moving is almost impossible, but my furnace heat has reached the cat. Her eyes pop open, and she looks at me, as if to ask, "What are you doing? I'm warm enough--shut that damn thing off!"

"I wish I could," I tell her. Because of no relief Lara steps off my body, and we are both grateful for the air on our damp spots. I throw back the sheet, and she drops to the floor. As I sit up, I see she is now lying on her back with all feet stretched toward the fan. The clock's red numbers now show 2 o'clock. My feet shuffle me to the bathroom. I step over the fur ball lying in front of the fan. "I'd like to join you," I purr to her, "or would you like to come back to bed with me?"

"Fat chance," she meows back.