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Instrumental - a Short Story

By Germaine

As quiet music filled the house, a cat black as night crept out of her basket. Pausing to stare at the nearest window, she watched the sun slowly burst out of the horizon. Warm light filled the room. Purring, she turned and padded downstairs to greet the pianist, who stopped playing only to stroke her.

The cat nudged back his hand. In return, he smiled and continued to play. The cat rolled her eyes. Upstairs waited for her. When she reached the top, a white cat with bright green eyes met her. The black cat’s striking blue eyes flashed with recognition as she mewed a greeting. “Harpsichord! Finally, you’re awake.”

“Woodwind, you were always an early riser. It’s no wonder that you’re already up.” Harpsichord answered.

Woodwind purred at the compliment. “Come on, let’s see if Oboe and Bass are awake yet.”
Oboe, a raven, was sleeping on her perch. Flashing Woodwind a mischievous grin, Harpsichord let out an ear-piercing screech. Oboe's eyes flicked open and she squawked loudly. Her wings flapped frantically in the air as she attempted to regain her balance. When she did, she glared at Harpsichord, who began to laugh.

Woodwind’s whiskers twitched in amusement and sympathy.

“The nerve of some people,” Oboe muttered.

Harpsichord only laughed harder.

When Harpsichord had stopped laughing, Woodwind led them to another room. With her snout, she pushed open the door. “Bass?  Are you awake yet?”

Bass, a dalmatian, yawned, sat up and looked sleepily at Woodwind. “Is it breakfast time yet?”

Woodwind gave him an insufferable look. “Food, food, food. It's always food." When she saw Bass's pitiful begging expression, she relented. "Soon.”

Bass nodded, and followed her outside.  “Should we go out for a walk?”

“That sounds delightful,” Oboe replied, “except I won't be doing any walking.” She snickered at her joke. No one else laughed.

“Harpsichord?” Woodwind looked to her friend.

“I wouldn’t mind going out for a walk,” Harpsichord answered.

“And that means I’m going too,” Woodwind announced jovially.

"Let's do this," Bass said.

As Bass, Woodwind and Harpsichord sneaked out of the cat flap, Oboe flew out of an open window the pianist had forgotten to close.

Woodwind led the way, until she saw a tall woman in high heels red as apples step out of her house. The woman shrieked when she saw Woodwind and Oboe. Hoping to block out most of the sharp sound, Woodwind flattened her ears.

“What’s going on?” Bass demanded once he finally caught up with them.

“I don't know.” Woodwind’s voice trembled as she got over the shock.

The woman hurriedly got into a car and drove away. Suddenly, Bass yelled out. “Yes!”

Oboe looked puzzled. Tail wagging, Bass began to explain. “Woodwind, you’re a black cat. And Oboe, you’re a raven.”
Woodwind tilted her head to one side, puzzled. “What’s that got to do with it?”

Oboe sniffed disdainfully. “And what’s wrong with being a raven?”

“Let me finish,” Bass said. “You see, the thing with some humans is that they think black cats and ravens are unlucky. They’re… What’s that word again?... Ah, yes. Superstitious. They’re superstitious.”

“People think that I’m unlucky?” Woodwind exclaimed, outraged. "That's so - so - speciesist!"

Oboe said nothing, but she was clearly not pleased.

Harpsichord, who was standing behind Bass, suddenly gasped. “Um… guys?”
“Yes?” Oboe snapped impatiently.

“I think I’ve seen that car before." Harpsichord pointed with her tail.

“It’s her,” Woodwind gasped. Anger crept up her chest and she stomped it out.

Harpsichord shook her head. "It can't be. She just left."

"Well, maybe she got lost," Woodwind retorted.

“Maybe we could follow her - you know, for fun?” Bass suggested.

Woodwind nodded. "Sure." Harpsichord and Oboe muttered quick agreements.

“After that car!” Bass yelled, breaking into a run. Exchanging amused glances, Woodwind and Harpsichord followed after him.

The woman got out of the car when she reached a tall building. Woodwind tilted her head towards the cloudy sky so that she could see the building better. “Where are we?”

Oboe, who’d only just caught up with them, looked pleased to see that she knew something that they didn’t. “We’re at a bank,” she said smugly.

“Ohhhh,” Bass and Woodwind said simultaneously.

Harpsichord looked puzzled. “What’s a bank?”

Oboe, exasperated, shook her head. “I’ll tell you later.”

They saw the woman go in and come out minutes later. She was holding a green sheet of paper. All of a sudden, the wind snatched the precious sheet of paper from her hands, sending it flying into the sky.

“Catch it!” Harpsichord shouted. Woodwind stared at the sheet of paper, unsure if she should act. The woman hadn't done anything good to her. In fact, she probably hated her. So why should she help?

Heroically, Oboe leaped into the air and caught it with her beak. She dove towards Woodwind, who grabbed the paper in her mouth. Woodwind hesitated. But just because the woman wasn't nice to her didn't mean she wasn't supposed to do the same. Careful not to tear the delicate sheet, Woodwind tentatively held it out for the woman to take.

The woman gasped and gently took the sheet of paper from Woodwind. The woman patted Woodwind on the head. “Perhaps you’re not bad luck after all,” she murmured. The woman pushed the green paper into a machine and drove away in her car.

“How come I don’t get any credit?” Oboe complained.

“I’m sure she wanted to thank you too,” Woodwind reassured her.

A faint smile touched Oboe’s beak, but then she rolled her eyes and rearranged her expression. "Yeah, right."

Woodwind, Harpsichord, Bass and Oboe turned around.
“I think it’s time we went home,” Bass said, staring at the sky. "I'm hungry." When no one replied, he added, “If we hurry, we may be just in time for breakfast."

They were.


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