Adage

Bethany was the older cat. Dominic was the younger. They did not call themselves these names. Cats, as you know, have several names, those they call themselves, those they are called by others, secret names. But Bethany was rather glib and condescending so Dominic did not call her anything. Bethany was calling Dominic Arseface that week.

“Have they gone yet?” Dominic asked from under the sofa. The Fairfields, the people that lived in the cats’ house, were taking the puppy to the vet. The Fairfields had made an exotic presumption by agreeing to babysit for their neighbors. The puppy liked Dominic a lot.

“No, Arseface.” Bethany swished her tail from her window seat. It was Bethany’s window seat. Even the Fairfields knew that. The puppy learned it very quickly. She had introduced its face to the carpet and reintroduced its bottom to the carpet and staged a reunion for its face and the carpet in quick succession.

“Tell me when they’re gone,” said Dominic from under the sofa. He found half a mouse near the leg of the sofa, half-fossilized in a mound of dustbunnies. He poked at it but it was not nearly as fun without its terrified head.

“Arseface, a watched pot never boils. Aren’t you familiar with that adage? Arseface?”

“No,” said Dominic. “What does it mean?”

“It means,” said Bethany. She paused. A fly landed on the window in front of her. She swiped at it and it flew in a lopsided circle. She smacked it, and it fell. She stared at it, and stared at it.

And she stared at it, until it died its long, painful death on the windowsill. She stepped on it.

“What does it mean?” asked Dominic from under the sofa.

“It means they’re gone,” she said.

Dominic ran out from under the couch and was immediately intercepted by the puppy, who had waited at the foot of the stair for Dominic’s head to appear. The puppy collided with Dominic and the two of them rolled loudly into the dining room.

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