Ennis, my cat, studies chaos theory.
As I lie upon my bed, reading, she approaches, nuzzles her face against the edge of the book three times, gnaws on its corner, then jumps to the floor, measuring the distance between the socks I flung there when I first came into the room. Or, down in the basement, Ennis stands -- ears pinned back -- before the noisy dryer during the last of its throes. When the cycle stops, and the buzzer sounds, Ennis goes into a jittering tribal dance, her eyes aflame with something I cannot read.
She is a tuxedo cat -- black and white: yin and yang; Romulus and Remus; Jesus and Judas. From her black face extend whiskers white as tusks; divining rods; tools of measurement and analysis. Her eyes are green as the moon in fairytales; wide, feral, capable of conducting oceans. Ennis carries on her work as I have read Da Vinci carried on his: taking small meals through the day and night, sleeping for no more than an hour at a stretch. Then she's back on the prowl of projections and calculations, tabulating elements and currents I cannot see. Portending disasters in the making; calculating the day the Rapture will begin.
When I've yawned one too many times over my book, I clap my hands, and call through the house, "Bed time!" Ennis will emerge from under the bed where she uses the untreaded carpet like an abacus. One look at her and I know her day is not finished. The project goes on, ceaselessly.
I may wake through the night, and find Ennis crouched on my chest, counting my breaths. Do I somehow figure into the Rapture's approach? Into plane crashes as yet uncharted? Into winning lottery numbers?
Ennis' eyes glow in the dark -- she seems aware of this fact. As she rolls onto the bed beside me, I wish to make inquiries about my mortality, my destiny, my past. The cat's eyes glow, unblinking; taking in readings I can't even imagine. Questions rise in my mind, supplanting sleep. No matter how I phrase my queries, Ennis watches me as though from another dimension.
Whatever she knows, she's not telling.
About the author:
Matt St. Amand's poetry and fiction have appeared in The Toronto Review, Kaleidoscope journal, Generation, and Eyeshot.net. His first book, As My Sparks Fly Upward -- a collection of short fiction set in Ontario and Ireland -- was published in 2002 by The Fiction Works. Miscellaneous notes: Matt finished writing his latest novel on St. Patrick's Day; "St. Amand," Matt's namesake, is patron saint of bartenders, wait staff, beer- and wine-makers; Matt is an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church and a full-time Information Architect with an IT company.