The Cat Text

A reader couldn’t find a copy of this, so I’m reposting it here. It’s a story I wrote using only words found in The Cat in the Hat.

My mother was gone. It was a bump on her head, a big bump. I did not know; mother did not tell me. When she did, I fell. “No,” I said. “No, not you! Do not go!” But there was no way. She sank fast, that was good. I let her go.

Then one day I saw Sally. We went out for fish. I had cat fish; Sally had something funny, with a big tail.

“What is that thing?” I said.

“This?” A bite. “Fish!”

“Good?”

A shake of the head. “No.”

We sat, said nothing. I should be back in the house. I looked down. “What is it?”

“You know. Sad.”

“Have your cat fish.”

“I should. But it is no good. And my milk too.”

“You and your milk!”

“I like milk,” I said.

“Not now!” Sally said. “Here. Look at me. Hold my hands.” I did it. “Tell. All of it.” I said all there was to say. The bump, the bed in the home. My deep shame. “Shame? Why shame? You did not do a thing.”

“That is it.”

I have to say one thing here: it is not fun to be with me. I like books and things. Tame: that is I. I get no kicks, fly no kites, play no games. Hops and pot are not my things. If you are here, I want you to go away. So what should this fox want out of me? I sat and picked at the fish and looked at those hands, so white.

We said not a thing, we two. And then: “What now?”

“I do not know. All the things mother had that I have to rid the house of: a ball, a little ship, a kite. Playthings, fun things from back then. I can box them up, and…and… give them away, to, to, to…” And then I shook.

“No, do not shake, you.”

“So how do you do it?” I said. “You do something all day, do you not? Have you made it big?”

“No.”

“So what then?”

“Tricks.”

“No!”

“Tricks! Lots of them! Things are not a ball, you know! I do a trick and…and…and then I wish I could shut down. I get high as a kite on pot. But a new day can do no good. I wish that I could stop, but I can not. Another day, another trick — like a net, a big bad net, and, and…and there is not any way out. And you think this is fun, I bet. I bet you like to see me look this way, like a fish — a fish that jumps in the sun, a fish cold with fear, a fish on a hook.”

“Not so, not so!”

“What do I do? I hook and I hook. If some cat should say jump, then I do so. If his will is that I hop, then to hop is the thing. Bent to his will: that is the thing. Go down on some cat and then get him out of the house. In, out, in, out, in, out — what would mother have said? Run away! But to what? Look — you like this, to look at this, this mess?”

“Oh, not — ”

“A cat could pick good fun tricks, but cat after cat will take tricks with this mess. Call them Dear, make them a cake. Play house. ‘Put that thing in here, you rake, you!’ A little bump, a little thump, then they get good and gone. This will be my down fall, you know — all in all this is a kind of game. Oh, the…the…”

“What?”

“Something. Have your fish. You look a lot like your mother. The look you have. The hat. The hat and the…something.”

I should not have a hat on in here. I like the hat so… “This hat?” With a little tip.

“That hat. The one like the hat your mother had. Do you know Mat? The man I have? Did have, that is. He would play with you, that one! Box, fly fish, fun fun fun! He said and said, but hear? Not! Shut up, he said. He saw red, that one!”

“You can pick a cat.”

“Can I pick you, then? We can have fun — a little bump and some thumps? Can you ball?”

“Sally!”

Sally sank as she sat, like a bad cake. Said, “You make me down.”

“Not that! Sit up!”

“Why?”

“We can ball, and fast!”

“Can we?”

“We will do the can can!”

And so, away.

Then, at the house: “Put on mother’s new gown,” I said.

“Not — ”

“Yes,” I said. “Now.”

Sally did, then let it fall. I got wood. “Oh my,” I said.

“I like to be wet.”

“I see.”

“Oh, you!”

We did it then, in the hall, near the fan. I gave it to her like she asked — fast and deep. The things we did — I bit.

Sally said, “Hit me!”

“No, I cannot.”

“Do as I say!”

I did it but I did not like it.

“Oh, oh! Now! Now! Now!”

“Not yet — ”

“Come!”

“No!” I said, but I came. “Mother! Oh, Mother!” And then the cold came up.

“Sally? Sally?” She said not a thing. Something ran

red. I do not know what I did. I did not know what to do. My mind was a mess. Mother’s gown was pink and wet. I shook Sally. “No, no!”

But this was always the way, you know. Things got away from me, that is all.

Now I sit. I hold the good book. I think of the fish we bit. I look at the wall.

Mother in a box. Sally in a box.

I, in a box.

All in a box.