In the den of his small, light-blue clapboard house at the end of a lane, a small boy observed a cat pin a bird to the lush green grass in his backyard.
After a few minutes, he turned his attention back to problem number 8 on his math worksheet.
“Jed had a sack of 10 apples, which broke, leaving 4 still inside. How many apples fell out?”
“Cesar,” he called to his babysitter, a college student at the local university.
“There’s a a cat doing something to a bird outside. I think he’s killing it.”
“Really!” said the boy, hopping up from where he sat in front of the TV, playing a video game.
“Awesome,” the man said, peering out the window.
“Should we help the bird?”
“I think he’s dead, dude.”
“It’s cool, it’s the circle you know?”
“Huh? What circle?”
“The circle of life.”
The boy didn’t know what the man meant, but he nodded anyway.
“Can I go outside to shoot hoops?” Will asked Cesar a few moments later.
“Sure. Are you done with your homework, though?”
“Yes, well almost.”
“Okay finish up, then we’ll go outside.”
The basketball hoop was in the front, on the driveway. Cesar carried the basketball out and immediately began doing tricks with it. While Cesar had his fun, Will announced that he needed to get something from the backyard, a ball of some sort.
When he arrived at the spot where he had seen the cat over its prey, he saw the bird, or what was left of it. It was nothing more than a pile of feathers.
He couldn’t remember if he’d ever seen anything dead before.
Or at least so recently dead.
He suddenly remembered that in the movies when someone or something died, it’s soul sometimes appeared and floated upwards. To heaven, he guessed.
He didn’t expect that to happen, but if it did, he certainly didn’t want to miss it.
It was the cat he had seen earlier. It was in the bushes a few yards to his right.
The cat, all black and fairly skinny, walked up to him.
It rubbed its butt and back on his gray pant leg.
He pet it for a few moments.
It floored him how something could be so brutal in one moment and so gentle a few moments later.
The cat purred at the boy’s touch.
The boy looked back over to the bird’s remains.
He waited ten more minutes in the very unlikely case the bird’s soul sailed off.
The cat curled up next to the boy and continued to purr.