Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt

The Cat's Pajamas

May 25, 2021 Susan Quilty Episode 13
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
The Cat's Pajamas
Chapters
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
The Cat's Pajamas
May 25, 2021 Episode 13
Susan Quilty

This week's story, The Cat's Pajamas, travels to a far-off land where a lion has reservations about his newfound friendship with a cat wearing pajamas. 

Suggestions for writing prompts are always welcome! Otherwise, prompts are chosen in random ways. This week's prompt came up because it's a fun phrase and... why not?

More about Susan Quilty

Susan Quilty mainly writes novels, including two standalone novels and her current YA series: The Psychic Traveler Society.  Susan's short stories for Freely Written are created during quick writing breaks and shared as a way to practice her narration skills before she dives into recording audio versions of her novels.

Website:  SusanQuilty.com
Patreon: Patreon.com/SusanQuilty

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/SusanQuilty)

Show Notes Transcript

This week's story, The Cat's Pajamas, travels to a far-off land where a lion has reservations about his newfound friendship with a cat wearing pajamas. 

Suggestions for writing prompts are always welcome! Otherwise, prompts are chosen in random ways. This week's prompt came up because it's a fun phrase and... why not?

More about Susan Quilty

Susan Quilty mainly writes novels, including two standalone novels and her current YA series: The Psychic Traveler Society.  Susan's short stories for Freely Written are created during quick writing breaks and shared as a way to practice her narration skills before she dives into recording audio versions of her novels.

Website:  SusanQuilty.com
Patreon: Patreon.com/SusanQuilty

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/SusanQuilty)

Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 13 of Freely Written, a podcast by author Susan Quilty:

Welcome to Freely Written where a simple prompt leads to a little unplanned fiction. 

[Light piano music]

Hi, friends! I’m Susan Quilty and today’s prompt is The Cat’s Pajama 

As you may already know, I use a simple process for these weekly stories: I choose a writing prompt, write down whatever comes to mind, with no planning and very little editing, and then share that story with you.

I used a little brainstorming for today’s prompt, by thinking about some of the colorful expressions or idioms I’ve heard over the years. The cat’s pajamas is a favorite phrase. I know it means something is really cool or nifty, but I don’t know where the phrase came from. I think I may have looked up its origin at one point, but if I did, I don’t remember it now. 

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to use it as a story prompt, so I did. And here’s what I came up with:


The Cat’s Pajamas 

The lion was not pleased. As usual, the cat was regaling the pride with an epic tale of his adventures with the humans. And, as usual, the entire pride—from the youngest cubs to the oldest lions—were held in rapt attention. Everyone, that is, except the lion who had first discovered the cat watching him from a high branch on a spindly tree. 

The lion had been intrigued by the cat’s unflappable cool. Despite her tiny size, she’d leisurely lounged on the thin branch, craning her neck to eye him critically. Her languid gaze had suggested boredom, yet the lion had been keen enough to catch a gleam of calculation in her pale blue eyes.

Beyond the strangeness of her being in the tree at all, the cat’s appearance was made even more perplexing by the flowered pink garment she wore over her cream-colored fur. 

“What are you doing up there?” the lion had asked, cocking his enormous head to one side.

“Oh, not much,” the cat had called down, swishing her tail against the branch beneath her. 

“What are you?” the lion had tried again, thinking it best to begin at the beginning.

“I’m a cat,” the cat had sighed, rolling over to sit more primly on her perch.

Cat. The word had tumbled through the lion’s mind searching for a meaning. In his world, the term cat referred to all lions and to his many cousins of varying lineages. The leopards, the tigers, the cheetahs. But he’d never come across a cousin that was as tiny as this strange creature. 

“What kind of cat?” the lion had asked after a long pause. 

The cat had sighed, licking her paw and smoothing the pale fur between her dark ears.

“Siamese,” she answered in time, though the lion had sensed there was more to this answer. 

“And you live around here?” He’d asked, still assessing this strange discovery.

“Not exactly,” the cat had responded, standing up to stretch her back with a languorous shake. 

“What does that mean?”

The lion had begun to lose patience with this small creature. He’d been fairly sure she wasn’t a threat but had not yet decided if she might make a nice meal. 

“Well…” The cat had resettled on the branch, keeping a careful distance from the lion. “I’m not from here originally. I traveled to the area with my humans but was separated before they decamped.”

“Humans!” The lion had experienced enough of the humans to know that they were a threat to him and his pride. He had circled the tree then, looking in every direction for signs of the danger.

“They aren’t here,” the cat had reassured, before yawning leisurely. “I told you, they decamped. They’re long gone, probably on their way to Egypt or China by now. They are quite the travelers, my humans.”

“Your humans?” The lion had settled uneasily beneath the cat, studying the pink cloth she wore over her fur. It certainly seemed like the kind of cloths he’d seen the humans wear over their bodies, though softer perhaps. 

“Yes,” the cat had shrugged then with just a touch of sadness. “They were my pets, and they were good to me. I will miss them now that they are gone.”

“Your pets?” the lion’s head had begun to hurt. “What are pets?”

“Oh, dear,” the cat had sat up straighter, injecting her words with an air of pity. “You’ve never had a pet? Well… pets are creatures that you keep for companionship. They bring you food, entertain you, and generally do your bidding. My humans also took me around the world on magnificent adventures. It was quite a nice relationship.”

The lion had taken that in slowly, considering what it might be like to have pets to do his bidding. As the leader of his pack, he was revered by his pride and feared by their prey. Yet, he’d never had another species bring him food or strive to entertain him. 

Certainly not the humans who came in with their fearful weapons that could fell a lion with a sudden explosive force. He’d been impressed by the idea of a creature that could master such powerful predators, especially one so small and unassuming.

“You’re alone then?” the lion had asked, noticing a gleam in the cat’s eye. “Would you like to spend some time with my pride?”

And that was how the tiny cat had become part of the lions’ daily life. 

There were some ground rules to be set before the cat was introduced, and the lion was careful to impress that the cat was under his protection. Yet, it hadn’t taken long for the rest of the pride to accept the cat without that admonition. 

They enjoyed the cat’s colorful stories and were enchanted by her swift motions as she darted throughout the grasslands. Her pink cloth—pajamas as she called them—were another source of both amusement and admiration. Amusement because it was strange to see an animal in human clothing and admiration because it signaled her mastery of the humans. 

While the rest of the pride grew to adore the cat, the lion began to begrudge her place among them. The cat did not hunt with the other lions. She did not provide food for the pride, and she was certainly incapable of being a mate to even the smallest lion.

She distracted the cubs from their lessons and the older lions from their work. Though she was never distinctly rude, she made often light of his leadership, teasing him to lighten up and have more fun. 

Worst of all, she had won the pride’s hearts in a way the lion had not. 

The lion was not pleased by her presence and wanted to show it in some small way. His opportunity came when he happened upon the cat’s pajamas stretched on a rock by the watering hole. 

The cat, wearing nothing over her fur, was fishing a few feet away and looked even smaller without the pink fabric swathed around her body. 

The lion patted the pink fabric, feeling its dampness and seeing the trails of water that trickled off the rock. The sun was high overhead and no one else was about.

“The trouble with pajamas,” the cat called over casually, “is that they need to be washed from time to time. And it’s so much nicer to let them dry in the sun before putting them on again.”

“Ah,” the lion replied, not entirely understanding but grasping that the cat’s pajamas were unprotected as she focused on catching a fish. 

Without her pajamas, the cat seemed to lose some of her magical air. She also blended into their surroundings more easily, which could make her safer… or could make her more easily mistaken for their natural prey. 

It would only take a quick swat of his paw, the lion realized. He could push the pajamas into the watering hole and let them float away before the cat returned. Losing her pajamas might not take away her stories or her charm, but it was one thing the lion could take away and he wanted to take something from her. 

The lion raised his paw, about to push the pink pajamas into the water, when a shot rang out in the distance. Birds flew up from a nearby tree and the ground shook with a rumble of approaching doom. The lion had felt that rumble before and knew it preceded the arrival of humans in wheeled vehicles with explosive weapons. 

“Run!” the cat shouted, forgetting all about the fish that had been in her sights. 

The lion took off across the dry grass, bounding away from the danger, before a nagging worry brought him to a halt. He spun around to see the cat still at the water’s edge, squirming her body into the damp pajamas. 

“What are you doing?” The lion roared, leaping back to her side. “You have to run!”

“No, you have to run,” the cat hissed, shoving her front paws through two of the pajama legs. “I have to get dressed. I have to show them where I belong.”

“But…” the lion studied the cat in confusion. “You belong with the pride.”

The cat looked up at him, her tiny face still in the shade of his shaggy head. 

“You don’t want me in your pride,” she told him plainly. “I don’t hunt for food and I can’t mate to expand the pride. I don’t have anything to offer you.”

The lion shook his head, seeing the humans’ vehicles rumbling into the distance. 

“That doesn’t matter,” he insisted wildly. “You teach us about the humans, you entertain us, you… you… Well, I don’t know. But we like having you around.”

The cat sat back on her haunches, considering her options carefully, as if they were not on the verge of being attacked by a human hunting party.

“You want me around?” she asked in disbelief. “Truly?”

The lion glanced at the approaching vehicles, seeing an explosive weapon being raised toward their position.

“Yes, yes, you silly cat!” he cried in fear. 

“Well, okay, then.” 

The cat leaped onto the lion’s back, climbing high enough to grip his unruly mane. 

“Now, run!” she yelled, and he did, carrying them back to their waiting pride. 

 

The End

 

Thanks for joining me today. If you have suggestions for future writing prompts, please let me know. 

To learn more about me and my books, you can visit my website, SusanQuilty.com. You can also follow me on social media or support me through my Patreon page. Until next time, try a little free writing of your own. Let go of any planning and see where your imagination takes you. 

[Light piano music]