Tommy looked into my eyes. My heart turned a big flip, and I couldn't stop staring back at him. He knew I'd fallen for him even before I did, and walked towards me, still holding my gaze. We exchanged the usual murmured pleasantries. I was still unsure of the handsome stranger, and turned to leave. He reached out and gently, lightly touched my hand, a tiny plea to stay, or at least to come back. "Maybe I'll see you tomorrow," I told him.
That night I dreamt of him, and woke in the morning wishing he was with me. In the mirror as I brushed my hair, I watched my mouth say his name aloud. "Tommy." How unusual the name sounded with my voice around it! I tried a rising inflection, as though I was asking him if he'd just returned home. "Tommy?" Blushing madly with my foolishness, I called his name as though I could make him hear me out in the kitchen of my apartment. "Tommy!"
I sighed. At that time, I didn't even know if I would see him again. "Oh, Tommy."
He was waiting for me in the same place, but this time his expression changed to glad recognition as I offered him my hand. The sound of his voice was like the song of angels, a song I wanted to echo around in my apartment, mixed with the music of laughter.
I let him follow me home. I made him a sumptuous feast for dinner, and sat beside him afterwards, telling him the story of my life.
None of my friends has a room-mate as easy to live with as Tommy. He usually sleeps later than I do, but I don't mind -- I love watching him sleep. His dreams must be heavenly, because he always looks as though he's smiling. He awakens when I come back from the shower, so I always sit on his side of the bed. He strokes my back, and sometimes nips my bare arm ever so gently, making certain that I still taste the same, that I still belong to him.
Neither of us can believe our good fortune in finding each other. We bump our foreheads together in gentle play; who would have believed that one day I would grow to look forward to his fishy breath in my face? And had we never met, who would have rained kisses on his striped head or tenderly combed his belly with a flea comb?
Tommy never tires of my company. He follows me room to room when I'm home, making use of any opportunity to stroke my legs with his whole body, wrapping his tail around my calf. On winter mornings he frequently stands with his cold black toes on the top of my foot to warm himself, looking up at me to see if I will speak to him. Of course I always do, and he answers with short bursts of affirming conversation.
In the evenings, we lie together on the couch listening to the radio. Well, I listen to the radio; I don't believe that Tommy cares if it's on or off. He curls himself on my chest and listens to the sound of my heart, purring in a two-toned pitch as he breathes in and out.
Sometimes, when I read a book, he becomes jealous of the focus of my attention. He reaches out a paw and places it on a page so that I can't turn to the next. If that doesn't dissuade me, he'll climb bodily onto the book and lie on it so that I can't see the letters. If I try to push him off the book, he snatches my hand in his front claws and bites it, kicking my arm with his hind feet, pricking my skin, but not drawing blood. Still holding my hand, in sudden repentance he rubs his face against it, eyes shut. If I hold still, his grasp will relax; if I try to pull away, once again he becomes furious that I might leave his touch for even a moment.
Who else would love me like that, with his whole skin and passion? Who else would desire my company even when I don't comb my hair, even when I have a miserable head cold that leaves my nose shiny and red and my face as lumpy as fallen dumplings? Who else would be so constant in his affection, so uncritical of my actions even when I succumb to baser tastes and read The Weekly World News or an Anne Rice novel?
To Tommy, I am the purpose of the entire world. He doesn't care about the stock market, or current fashions. He waits to see me when I come home from work, leaping from the back of the couch with a joyful trill in his voice. The birds outside the window lose his interest the minute I set foot in the door. I pick him up, and he rubs his nose and cheek against my face, kissing me for no other reason than that I have returned to him.
As I hang up my clothes, he paces back and forth on the bed, chatting with little crisp meows, standing briefly on his hind legs when I reach out to him, meeting my hand with his head.
Later in the evening, we'll play a game with a piece of string attached to a crumpled piece of paper. He'll make me laugh again and again, being by turns a dangerous jungle hunter, crouching to attack his prey, and a wild-eyed buffoon who fluffs his tail and gallops from room to room, rocketing off the furniture. And then we'll close the day with quiet, his green eyes watching mine again, reminding me of when we first met, adoring me, worshipping his only goddess.
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