Noah and Night

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So at last they knew the reason for those continuous sniffles, and those hands that bled from so much scratching. Noah, aged six, is allergic to cats.

It was a dismal return home, stunned by the news, at supper-time.

Noah swallowed a bowl of Corn Flakes mechanically, occasionally looking up, and did not notice his father’s worried silence, as he hid his dismay by looking out the window, nor the misty eyes of his mother, sitting opposite him at the kitchen table.
From the top of the dresser, the cat observed the scene with a severe expression. She had been there first. Noah was born two years later, almost by chance, one first of October (exactly nine months after New Year’s Eve), causing a great upheaval in the hushed happiness of that ménage à trois where no one seemed to be missing. One novelty was particularly unwelcome: the noise – Noah is not a quiet child.

She is called Night, because of the color of her fur and the time when she came into their life, freezing cold at the bottom of a dustbin, at 2 o’clock in the morning. For eight years she has been enchanting them with her golden eyes! How poetic they look on those evenings when, after her stroll around the rooftops, she responds to their call in little fluting voices into the gloom – “Night Night” – like you say “Puss Puss” or “tweet tweet” for a bird, when the child is asleep at last!

The allergy specialist had been blunt, “You will have to get rid of it.”
It was November and night was falling; their eyes met and looked away, moving from Noah to Night, and from Night to Noah, Noah who was scratching himself and sniffling and snivelling. The kitchen was full of the muffled sound of crunched cereal.
If they were pushed just a little bit further, an idea would come to them.

Translated by Wendy Cross

53

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