How Anthony Met the Stars

Prompt: Setting: At the top of a tree by Rabia Gale. Who Me? Out of Prompts?


Liana Mir

How Anthony Met the Stars

What are the stars?

Tiger is a watchcat charged with keeping Anthony safe, but she was the self-contented sort, certain that if she is chaperoning, a visit to the stars is not unacceptable.


Miscellaneous Fiction Fantasy
Flash Fiction Short Story

At the top of a tree, a little boy sat, face uplifted to the night sky and eyes screwed up to better see the stars (he was myopic, don’t you know?). The little boy’s name was Anthony, and the cat in his arms was named Tiger despite being a greyish white stripeless wonder with one blue eye and one green. The cat purred in her little boy’s arms but seemed most undisturbed by it being night out at the top of the tree and quite cold. Never mind the bright gold collar gleaming at her neck. She was a watchcat and should be piteously meowing and howling Anthony back inside to his nanny where he belonged, but Tiger was a rather self-satisfied watchcat and felt her presence was sufficient to make night outings acceptable.

“Anthony!” a voice called out below, far below, invisible beneath the cloak of leafy branches between the top of the tree and the bottom. It was his nanny’s voice, and Anthony must be obliged to holler back down said tree, “I’m star-watching.”

“You should be pillow-watching, child!” the woman called back again. “Would you like a young dragon to snatch you away?”

Tiger purred.

In fact, a young dragon would interest Anthony greatly, but it was the stars that fascinated him most of all. Their winking light, their tiny faraway clarion voices like distant bells singing through heavens to meet him. “Tiger, do you know who made the stars?”

Tiger purred. She did indeed know, as should he, that the Creator made all things.

“Do you know what stars are?” Anthony asked further.

At this, Tiger’s tail bushed out and she hissed, but she leapt out of Anthony’s arms with the most dignified grace imaginable and set off lightly over the tree branches.

“Wait for me!” Anthony called softly and tread behind her.

She led him to the edge of the tree and onto the edge of the next and so on until they came to the greatest tree at the very center of the city, where she climbed up, up, up, and patiently waited and guided while Anthony climbed up, up, up with her. Once, she was obliged to catch him by his collar and pull, then swat him with her paw in chiding for missing the branch with his hands. At last, Tiger and Anthony sat at the very top of the highest tree and below them spread the forest over the city in which they lived and above them spread the stars.

A wind blew gently. Tiger meowed, softly, then louder, in as melodious a tune as a cat can manage (watchcats were still cats, after all), and Anthony listened as the starsong swelled back.

“Are they cats?” he asked, whispering with wonder. But no! Their bell-like voices were more melodious than what a cat could muster. Their sweetness was loud, so loud, and he drifted off to sleep.

When Anthony roused, slowly, not eagerly, a faint shivery sound like chimes drifted over him. He was bedded down on some sort of soft stuff.

“The treasures of snow!” an airy, chimey voice informed him, reproachful but laughing, as if he should know and she did not mind so much that he didn’t.

“Tiger?” Anthony rubbed his eyes and sat up, but Tiger was a warm bundle of white-grey fur at his feet, and his bed was cold, shivery, delightful snow, and the lady staring at him with sparkling eyes was tall and too bright to look at it in her white-blue glory.

“You wished to meet us?” And the lady was crowded about by her brothers and sisters.

Anthony could hardly look but he wondered at what loveliness could be seen through their brightness. “You are so beautiful!” he said. And warm. Their nearness kept his bones from chilling, for each put off such radiant heat.

They laughed and the first lady leaned over and kissed him, and it seared his forehead but felt so, so pleasant. “There,” she said. “Now you are a star’s child,” and he fell back into sleep.

~

“Tiger, how could you!” Mother demanded of the watchcat curled up in a white lump of fur on Anthony’s chest.

Her boy had been out all night, but he had not caught cold; he was warm and dry and safe at home in his bed now; and he was none worse for his adventure, having only encountered such people that Tiger considered quite good company. Anthony sat up in the bed, rubbing his eyes, wondering at how warm he felt, and unaware of the soft, bright, thoroughly healed sun-kissed scar on his forehead.

“Good morning, Mummy,” Anthony said.

Tiger purred.

#


Miscellaneous Fiction Fantasy

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