“Walker, you’re not cleared to go on this mission. I’m revoking your clearance and sending you home.”
“But, Director. I’m perfectly able to carry out my mission. This is not my first rodeo with a cold.”
“Your lab tests came back, you have pneumonia, not a cold. You’ll forgive my indiscretion, the file was on your desk, plain to see. I am not risking my best man in the field in these circumstances. I will not hear any objections. Now go.”
This was how August had found himself back home, having taken a hot shower and changing into some comfortable, warm pajamas and warm socks.
He had stopped by the pharmacy and by the grocery store to get his prescription meds and to buy food for the week. He had had to cancel the cat sitter’s services too, now that he was going to be home indefinitely. Sloane would not take him back until his tests showed that he was infection-free.
But his upset and guilt at being excluded from the mission only lasted until Dot and Lizet came to settle on him, happy that Dad was home at daytime. They duked it out on the sofa backrest, deciding in battle who got to snuggle in the L formed by August’s neck and shoulder and who got to curl up on the tummy.
Pretty soon, August dozed off, lulled by the sounds of the series he was watching on TV and the stereo purrs from the two kitties.
The next day, he woke up feeling stiff, from having slept on the living room sofa. The cats were extremely happy to see him awake and greeted him with headbutts and tiny adorable sounds.
He got up, went to pee and then to the kitchen, where he got coffee started while he opened a can of something yummy and filled the two cats’ bowls.
He briefly contemplated going for a run, but in his state, it was wiser not to. He could go, but that would mean risking the infection growing stronger and prolonging his sick leave.
Instead, he decided to tackle a very difficult Ashtanga yoga workout in his own home, which seemed to be going great and to be a fantastic way to engage both his muscles and his mind - until Dot caught sight of the string on August’s track pants while August was in a handstand. The kitten rushed towards him and jumped, clawing at the fluffy end of the string, his claws dangerously close to softer, more vulnerable parts of his human.
But, once August tucked the string into his pants and Dot lost interest, it was Lizet who came and climbed on him, fluidly jumping to sit on his back while he was bent forward and refusing to hop off regardless of what position August switched into.
No one was going to be better at yoga than cats, August thought. Feeling exertion catch up to him, he ended his workout and gently lowered himself to the floor, allowing Lizet to leave. At first, she walked up his back and made biscuits on the back of his neck, but then she hooped off and let him catch her and hold her in his arms, giving her a kiss on her furry forehead.
“You’re very graceful, little girl.” August told the cat, holding her as one would a baby against his chest. “Do you like that I’m home? You do, don’t you?”
Lizet replied with the usual “Mrrpt!” sound she reserved for August and August only, a sound which marked the beginning of a long and usually loud conversation.
“Who is daddy’s favourite girl?”
“Who’s my little princess, hm?”
“Would you like some treats?”
“I thought so. Dot! You too.” August said, getting up and fetching the treat bag.
Once he finished distributing the treats evenly between the two felines, he went and played some relaxing music on his sound system, returning to his mat for a few minutes of Shavasana, to soak up the benefits of his workout.
As he listened to Buddha bar music with his eyes closed and spread out in the corpse pose, August felt Lizet and Dot trample him, again seeking the best spots for curling up for a nap.
Shavasana ended up being longer than a few minutes, because he felt sorry to upset the cats so soon after they had settled.
But it was soon time for him to make breakfast for himself and he regretfully got up, going to the kitchen, followed by the two cats.
He was going to make an omelet with herbs, mushrooms and cheese, and the cats were going to watch. Lizet and Dot loved watching him cook, even though they never got anything from the pan, but August figured they were simply curious and enjoyed watching him do stuff.
His cats were allowed on the counters and even on the table. There was no point in trying to set rules and punish the cats, they knew not to crowd him on the rare occasions when he had someone over and they were clean and considerate, never knocking down things from the surfaces where they climbed and sat. He just had wet disinfectant wipes handy at all times, to clean after the cats if they sat on the table. But most of the time, he didn’t feel the need.
As he ate his omelet in front of the TV with a nice cup of fragrant coffee and the cats chasing each other around the sofa, he picked up on a warm, overpowering feeling that took over him from the inside, like he was suddenly filling up with sunlight, despite his being sick.
He felt happy. It was simple as that. He was home and warm, getting to recover instead of risking his life and long term health, and he had his beloved kitties with him. It was strange to feel complete and peaceful just from that, but he figured someone like him, who saw a lot of the darkness that lurked under the surface in people and the misery it brought, only needed a small sliver of joy to find a contented balance.