Everyone was crowding her home that morning, pushing each other out of the way to gaze at the note nailed to the door. Curious, I walked up to read it, though not without provoking the sneers of the townsfolk.
“Tough luck! Ye can’t catch a maimed oxen if ye wanted to!” a gruff man yelled towards me amidst laughter.
I tried to ignore it, keeping my eyes focused on the note. After pushing my way through the throngs of jeering people, I could finally read it.
“Though many seek my hand and heart; With these I do not easily part; A quest I have for those who yearn; A cat’s prize for me you must earn. -S”
At that moment, a small black cat jumped from the roof and touched ground merely feet from me; Around his neck, a small golden key.
The horde gave chase immediately, running to catch the poor cat with the key to the house. I watched for some time, both amused and disheartened, before walking back to my abode. For an instant, it seemed the cat was watching me as it jumped from roof to roof avoiding the mass of hands and feet stampeding after him.
I sighed as I shut my door.
“There’s no way I could ever win her heart with a test like this.” I thought to myself, “I’m neither strong nor quick, and if the cat can avoid the others it shall surely easily outpace me.”
I could still hear the crowd chasing after the cat, though many had given up already. The cat didn’t seem too bothered by all this activity. In fact, the cat looked like it wasn’t tired at all. It looked up at me as I gazed out my window at it. There was something familiar about it’s eyes, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I decided to go to bed, and deal with that idea in the morning.
As I awoke, I could already hear the desperate footsteps of townsfolk chasing the black cat again. Poor thing probably just wanted to relax. I smiled as I watched it out of my window. I strolled to my kitchen and pulled some pink salmon from my icebox, cut it down to small bite sized strips, and went outside. I wandered a ways into the forest, away from the dysfunctional lot that were my neighbors. The pond was a nice, quiet spot to unwind after a long week. As the morning turned into the afternoon, and the afternoon into evening, I sat with my assortment of snacks and stared off, lost in thought as the breeze made the trees sway and the water ripple.
Suddenly, I felt something soft brush against my leg. I nearly jumped at first, but then noticed it was the black cat, with the key around its neck. It stared up at me for what seemed like an eternity before softly meowing and cleaning itself. I reached forward but it shifted just out of reach.
“Shhh.. I won’t hurt you. Here,” I reached down and picked out some salmon, “Would you like some? You must be hungry after being chased like that for so long.”
The cat stared at my hand, then at my face before reaching forward and taking a bite out of the salmon, pulling back quickly as if to avoid being swept up. I chuckled as I put the piece down and continued gazing at the water in the pond.
“Beautiful here, isn’t it, little cat?” I sighed, “You’re lucky you know, you get to see her everyday.”
The cat glanced up at me, as if understanding. I smiled, “She’s everything someone could hope for in a lady; She’s absolutely stunning, smart as can be, and one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. She really is quite something, eh?”
The only response was a few blinks from the cat before it placed a paw gently on my leg. I gingerly reached forward and managed to pet the cat’s fluffy head for a moment. It started purring and closing its eyes as it all but melted into my hands.
After some time had passed, and the light of the day was all but gone, I stood up to head home and looked down at the black cat. It was just sitting there watching me as I picked up my things. Before I could start heading up, it meowed at me, lowering its head and dropping the key by my feet. I knelt down to pick it up, and when I looked up again the cat was gone.
“A cat’s prize you must earn. Huh.. Thank you, small feline.”
I walked up to my home, tucking the key away in my pocket to hide it from the others. They’d probably kill me to get this key. I entered and closed my door, noticing the cat was back outside teasing the townsfolk.
“Funny it chose me. But will she truly love me tomorrow when I open her door? Or will I just be another failed suitor? I suppose there’s only one way to find out.”
I smiled as I drifted into my dreams.
The next morning, I awoke with the sun and made a nice breakfast. After eating I stepped out of my home to find much fewer men out and about. It seems the cat was nowhere to be seen, and the others were searching for it. I had to get to her house without having the others see the key, so I set out, tucking the key into my belt.
As I approached her home, some townsfolk approached me with snarls on their faces.
“Oy! Did ye scare off little whiskers? O’ course someone like you could never be with her, y’er too weak!” He and his gang laughed at me before walking off in search of the cat.
I walked up the steps to her porch, stepped towards the door, and slowly pulled the key out. I stared at it for some time before inserting it into the lock and turning. The tumblers sounded like cannons, the scrape of metal on metal echoed through my head. The lock gave way, and the door opened to reveal a small black cat.
I looked down at the cat and chuckled, taking the key and placing it back around the cat’s neck.
“Here ye go little cat. I think this is your key.”
The cat meowed at me, before jumping back into the shadows of her house. I stepped forward only to be stopped by a soft, gentle touch on my chest. My jaw dropped and my heart raced as I followed the arm up to her beautiful face.
“I knew you could do it. Only you have true love and patience in your heart, and thus only you can share mine.” She quietly said with a smile on her face.
I stared at her eyes, her nose, her lips, and as my gaze drifted further down I felt her soft touch on my chin, pulling me towards her, and with a rush of ecstasy we kissed.
Some townsfolk had taken notice and stood just beyond the porch. As she released me, I glanced over, expecting hate and spite, but received only happy smiles and applause. A joyful grin crossed my face as I turned to her once again, grabbed her around her waist and pulled her in for a passionate kiss.
And that, kids, is how I met your mother.