Cat’s New Gown

July 13, 2012

This #FridayFlash fic was written as part of a prompt call themed around saws, idioms and proverbs; inspired by a prompt by Zamdor: “Procrastination is the thief of time”

There was a sense of excitement all over the forest; the air seemed to vibrate with the expectations the animals had for the yearly Midsummer Ball. In every tree, den, and stream, the animals were getting ready for the big day, each in their own way. All of them had a task, each of them equally important, to make sure the day went off without a hitch.

Squirrel was in charge of the snacks, and was feverishly collecting every nut and acorn he could find to make sure there would be enough for everyone.

The birds, led by Blackbird, were in charge of the music, and practised for hours each day. Hearing their song was a reminder to all the animals of what would soon come.

Queen Ant and her children had been charged with preparing the glade where the Ball would be held, and scurried to and fro to blanket the ground with a soft, even layer of fresh pine needles. They enlisted the help of Hare, who stomped the needles flat with his strong feet, and once they were done, Sheep brought fragrant herbs from her meadow to scatter across the top of the blanket of needles.

Spider wove artful curtains to decorate the tree branches up above, and the fireflies saved their glow for a full week, to make sure it would be strong enough for the big day.

Moose wrote a speech, Bear and the bees made peace for once to provide the very best honey-mead to drink, and Otter collected clams for the carnivores to eat. Rabbit brought in carrots and lettuce for the herbivores, and all around, the animals kept busy.

That is, all animals except one.

Vixen had finished collecting wooly fibers together with Raven and Magpie, for the guests to rest their feet on between dances, and was ready to start thinking about how she was going to dress for the dance, but first, she wanted to check in on her best friend Cat. Cat had been charged with spinning fine wispy clouds to float around the Ball and give it the proper magical flair, and so far, Vixen had seen no clouds.

She found Cat dozing on a rock in the sun. “How are you doing with the cloud-spinning, Cat?”

Cat opened one yellow eye, and grinned at Vixen. “The Ball isn’t for another five days, Vixen. I’ll spin the clouds later.”

“Well, as long as you get done on time,” Vixen told her friend. “Just remember you need to finish your gown, too.”

“I have plenty of time,” Cat assured her, and lay back down with her tail across her nose.

So Vixen left her alone, and went to sew herself a nice new set of beaded black silk gloves and stockings. When she came back the next day, she once again asked Cat how the Ball preparations were going.

“Oh, don’t worry, Vixen,” Cat replied, and rolled over to let the sun warm her belly. “I have plenty of time yet.”

So Vixen left Cat alone, and went to finish the last few stitches on her new white silk scarf. The next day, Cat still thought she had plenty of time, and Vixen finished sewing her own ball gown, as delicate as new birch leaves. She was getting very worried about her friend, and went to ask Dog’s advice.

“Cat has always been lazy,” Dog said. “She doesn’t realize that time runs away from her when she’s lying in the sun. She’ll get the clouds spun last minute, like always.”

“But then Cat won’t have time to get her gown ready,” Vixen protested, heartbroken for her friend.

“Maybe then she will learn,” Dog replied. “You can’t force Cat not to squander her time, Vixen.”

“Maybe not,” Vixen sighed, and walked home, her heart heavy.

On the morning of the big day, Vixen walked past the Ball glade, and sure enough, everything was in place except for Cat’s clouds. Now Vixen was getting really worried for her friend, but when she found her friend, Cat was sitting on a tree stump washing her paws.

“It doesn’t take all day to spin some clouds, Vixen,” Cat purred. “No need to be in such a rush.”

“But what will you wear?”

“I’m sure I’ll have time to finish my new gown after I spin the clouds,” Cat said, yawning. “After my nap.”

Vixen could only sigh and shake her head, walking away to get dressed for the Ball. Maybe Dog had been right, and there was nothing she could do to help Cat.

As dusk fell, Nightingale took up the first haunting notes of the evening’s musical entertainment, soon joined by Blackbird, Starling, and Mockingbird. Frog and his cousins provided accompaniment, and soon all the animals were in the glade, laughing and dancing and enjoying themselves. Vixen was there in her new green gown, with her white scarf and black gloves, and she was relieved to see Cat had spun her clouds, which were floating wispily around Moose’s and Deer’s horns.

But nowhere did she see Cat enjoying herself, even though Cat loved the Midsummer Ball as much as all the other animals.

Finally, she found Cat outside the glade, curled up under a root crying.

“What’s wrong, Cat? Why aren’t you at the Ball?”

“I don’t have anything to wear,” Cat cried, and looked very ashamed. “You were right, I should have spun the clouds earlier!”

“Yes,” Vixen said, “you should have. Time doesn’t wait for your naps, Cat. But if you promise to do better next year, I have a surprise for you.”

Cat promised, and Vixen pulled out the most beautiful gown Cat had ever seen, the color of honey and wild clover.

“When did you have time to sew that gown?” Cat asked, stunned.

“You had time, too,” Vixen said. “If only you’d planned it a little better.”

Maybe Cat didn’t stop procrastinating entirely after that day, but at least she never again was the last one to finish her task for the Midsummer Ball.

3 Responses to “Cat’s New Gown”

  1. […] Cat’s New Gown by Alexandra Malmberg ~ @quoting_mungo ~ Fantasy […]

  2. I’m not also prized the cat with the one estimate. I liked how you captured the dog’s prejudices.

  3. I wouldn’t say Dog is prejudiced, exactly – he’s making a pretty accurate judgment based on past experience. At least Cat learned her lesson in the end.

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