The Cat, His Fiddle, and His Sold-Out Concert
Alisa Lu | Art by Catherine Li
The little boy tugged at Grandma’s culottes, and the delicate shift in her lap rocked the sleeping kitten awake. It pawed at Grandma’s knitting needles, then decided to leap onto the floor in search of its prey. The dangling strings of yarn dared the kitten to pounce—and so it did.
Grandma rocked back and forth, her wrinkled hands working away at her scarf, directing the needles with the confidence of the years of her experience. Her voice escaped in feeble breaths. “Why aren’t you in bed, boy?”
“Grandma,” called the boy. “Grandma, will you tell me a story?”
Grandma smiled, reaching down to hold his hand. “Of course. Will you bring me a cup of tea before I start?”
The boy bolted away and came back in a flash, the tea splashing over the mug’s brim as he set it onto the fireside table. He settled into Grandma’s lap, wriggling himself under and through her arms. Clinging to her warmth, he smiled as Grandma kissed his forehead. The clicking of knitting needles served as the rhythmic pedal point to Grandma’s melodic voice as she began her story.
“We return to Monsieur Alexandre the cat, his fiddle, and his sold-out concert. Today, he sports a warm tweed peacoat and a quaint little top hat.”
She continued, “Monsieur Alexandre stands on a glossy stage. A bright light from above illuminates his smiling snout.” The kitten looked up at the two as Grandma waved her scarf around.
Grandma’s voice shifted to a low baritone to emulate that of the cat’s, “This is my fiddle, and I love my fiddle with all my heart.”
The boy could imagine the fierce glimmer in the cat’s eyes. He looked up at Grandma, then down at the kitten. “Magic,” he whispered, a glimmer forming in his sleepy eyes. “I want to see the magic happen.”
Grandma closed her eyes, and a quiet, knowing, smile grew on her face. “The concert is going to start in just 15 seconds. Let us count together, shall we, dearest patrons?”
Soothed by the slow hum of Grandma’s voice, the boy gave a tiny nod. “One, two…” Monsieur Alexandre’s rich tone was complimented by the wisps of the child’s voice. “Three, four…” The boy’s eyelids began to feel heavy with the soft diminuendo of their harmonization.
“Five…” The boy was drifting into sleep; Grandma counted alone now. “Six, seven…” She hoisted the boy up, careful not to startle or awaken him. Her footsteps were as light as a feather as she carried him up the stairs. The kitten gave a soft meow as it watched the two leave the living room.
“Eight, nine…” Her counting continued, softer now, as she lowered the boy to his bed and tucked him in. She kissed his forehead, hoping to bestow upon him the magic of a good night’s sleep. Careful not to make a peep, Grandma shuffled out of the room as her count reached ten. She gave the boy one last glance, making sure he was asleep before closing the door, leaving him drifting off into his dreams in bliss.
“Eleven, twelve, thirteen…” Grandma continued to count as she glided down the steps, back into the living room, where she took a sip of her tea and picked up her knitting materials once again. With one fell swoop of her fingers, the intertwined mass of yarn and needle fell into place: the magically finished scarf into the grasp of the kitten, who now sported a peacoat and carried a fiddle, and the needle and ball of yarn back into her hands, the threads metamorphosizing into a broomstick upon her touch.
“Fourteen…” Grandma left the house and flew into the cold air of the night, with Monsieur Alexandre riding on her broomstick. “Fifteen.” The soft notes of Alexandre’s fiddle, combined with Grandma’s quiet humming, intertwined as strings do in a scarf, their melodies meandering through childrens’ dreams.
At last, the concert had begun. The boy smiled in his sleep as his heart sang to the music of the night.