“But as Dian groggily blinked his cerulean eyes, it was clear to him that he was still at Manhattan Kittens, in his little clear box, with his boring, uneventful siblings, the Grey Tom kitten and the Dark Striped Female kitten. “
Dian groaned at the florescent lighting, a small, black puff writhing from the awakening from his dream, which had starred a peculiar adventure with a pigeon. They had munched New York hotdogs, snuck into an art gallery, and were smack in the middle of a Daring Escape from an evil animal shelter owner. But as Dian groggily blinked his cerulean eyes, it was clear to him that he was still at Manhattan Kittens, in his little clear box, with his boring, uneventful siblings, the Grey Tom kitten and the Dark Striped Female kitten. They were up to their usual time-passing, lying down and playing with their toys: a battered plush mouse that jangled and a few inches of some maroon yarn. It kept them content, but Dian longed for some excitement. Perhaps there was a pigeon waiting outside the window? Maybe he had sat there for weeks, months, waiting for him? Perhaps it had watched him for a while, saw that he was different from the others, and had forever longed to get to know him? Dian knew, of course, that there was none, but it was disappointing nonetheless to glance out the window and see the sidewalk barren of any potential companion.
“Hey, you. What are you looking out that window for? It never changes,” inquired Dark Striped kitten.
“Nor does anything here,” Dian replied dolefully.
“And you can call me Dian.” Dark Striped looked at him as if he had asked her to refer to him as Twinkleton Bluebottom Ceculous The Third.
“Why?” she queried, puzzled.
“We’ll all get proper names when we’re adopted,” Dark Striped stated it as if being adopted was having dinner arrive.
“But when I was younger–” Dian declared. “When I was like an hour old, someone picked me up by my scruff and said that I was dark as obsidian”
“Are you sure? And even if that story happened, so what? That doesn’t mean Dian is your name.” Dark Striped was stubborn that way. She was perfectly satisfied with lazing around, playing with jingling toy mice, but always had to be correct and practical about things like this. There was no “Maybe there is something odd and mysterious out there,” or “We should go exploring!” for Dian’s sister.
“What’s obsidian?” Grey Tom had just awoken from his morning nap, his plump belly sprawled across the bedding like a grey, furry puddle.
“I-I think it’s some kind of rock. Someone once came in here with something around their neck that had a shiny rock on it, and someone asked if it was obsidian.” As Dian said this he began to ponder his namesake. Sure, there was the one occasion with the shiny rock, but were there people named Obsidian? Other cats? Dian sighed as he gazed aimlessly out the foggy window. Raindrops dripped down the window, as Dian watched the umbrella-holding New Yorkers, dashing from here to there, all having somewhere to go. Something to do. At that moment, Dian’s ears pricked up, as the bell that hung above the door jangled. At the kitten sticker adorned door stood a tall, thin man in a scruffed leather jacket.
“Um, hello, would you by any chance have a terrier-sized blue sparkly dress I could borrow?” The stranger’s odd request had not gone unnoticed, for the volunteer at the register looked as if he had asked if anyone had seen a ghost named Joseph holding gardening shears.
“Sir, we mostly cater to cats here, and I don’t believe we sell any clothing items for pets.”
Dian was intrigued by the curious stranger, and couldn’t keep a straight face while watching the conversation.
“I see…” The odd guest pursed his lips in thought. “How about a bow?”
The woman at the register gave a look of shock mingled with hidden laughter.The curious kitten was watching the comical event with wide eyes and open ears. As the volunteer told him that there were in fact no sparkly garments of any kind for sale at Manhattan Kittens, the peculiar man nodded and rushed out. Dian was surprised, to say the least, for anyone who came into Manhattan Kittens was almost always a young child and a parent, or if they came alone, an orderly-looking woman. Never had he seen anyone with messy hair, a jacket that looked as if it had been given to an angry Persian cat, wild eyes, and a request of a dress for a terrier. What even was a terrier? As Dian wondered this, he noticed a tall figure who seemed to be talking to a small dog out the window. An excited and curious Dian craned his neck to see that it was Terrier Dress Man. He was pacing, worriedly, and talked, seemingly, to the small dog. Dian wished badly to hear what he was saying, and pressed his ear to the glass of his box.
More people came in Manhattan Kittens, some with children. Dian didn’t get ecstatic like the other kittens, he was wise enough to know that he wasn’t cute and playful enough to be wanted by children, and not graceful and elegant enough for older adults to want him. It usually didn’t bother him, but lately he began to wonder what would happen to him. Was he doomed to stay in the clear box forever? Would he be kitten-napped by some villain to be stroked on his lap in an evil lair? But Dian didn’t have time to worry about that, he had to think of a plan to do something drastic, something big, something adventurous.
Okay, so after I start to meow and whine, somebody is bound to come to the box. Dark Stripes and Grey Tom will be deep in their pre afternoon rest nap, so they won’t be a bother. After a volunteer picks me up and tries to see the problem, I leap out and make a dash for the door.
Dian knew it was risky, he knew it was dangerous, but he knew it was the only way he would ever get out of the clear box. He found himself becoming a bit downcast at the thought of leaving Manhattan Kittens forever. Finally, Dian had mustered up all the courage in his little heart, and began to meow. Not those little, cutesy mews that other kittens give, loud, screeching yowls that everyone in Manhattan Kittens found quite bothersome. A volunteer quickly rushed over, and grabbed Dian by his dark fluffy scruff. Dian hadn’t been held by a person ever since he was given his name. He could feel the rough fabric used to make the Manhattan Kittens tee, the psychedelic sky blue of the shirt and the yellow letters reading MANHATTAN KITTENS giving him a mild headache.
He quickly tried to squirm out of the volunteers arms, and glanced out the window to see Terrier Dress Man still pacing and jabbering on to the unsuspecting dog. The volunteer began to scold Dian, and placed him back in the box, closing the lid. Dian let out a frustrated cry, and pouted around the box.
“Why can’t they realize I need to leave?” Dian began to let out his anger on a sleepy Grey Tom. “It’s like they can’t even think of anything other than themselves!” The mild throbbing in Dian’s head started to feel less like a quiet bell and more like a person with a hammer had taken up residence in his head. He really felt like sulking and having a good long rant, but he so badly wanted to escape. Just then, he heard a mew followed by an awww. He looked around and saw a small, fluffy, dark grey kitten being held by a little girl. The kitten buried its little head in her jacket, as the girl gave a pleading look at her mother, who let out an exasperated sigh and asked a nearby volunteer, “How much is he?” The girl left the store wearing a grin and carrying a kitten. Normally Dian wouldn’t have taken much notice of this; it was really quite a common sight at Manhattan Kittens. But this gave him an idea.
As soon as the next child came in, Dian started up his act. He began to snuggle into the bedding, and as the child came closer, he began to mew and paw at the glass. The child was instantly drawn to Dian’s box, but much to Dark Stripe’s surprise, she had come for Dian.
“Oh he’s so cute!” The girl then opened the box and grabbed Dian, despite the quite clear “WANT TO HOLD A KITTEN? ASK A VOLUNTEER” sticker on the lid.
“Daddy Daddy! I want this one!” The child ran up to a distinguished-looking man, holding a very frazzled Dian.
“That one?” The father looked at Dian as if his daughter had chosen a worm for a pet. “But there are so many other nicer, purebred kittens.”
“No!” the girl pouted. “This one!” The father reluctantly agreed, and the girl twirled out of Manhattan Kittens holding a black fluff of kitten. Dian saw in the next door bakery window a familiar, messy haired acquaintance. He couldn’t help feeling the tiniest bit guilty wriggling out of his self entitled owner’s arms, and dashing to Pain Incroyable. After all, they had paid for him. But as Dian found himself underneath Terrier Dress’s table, he didn’t regret his decision one bit.
“I’m honestly not sure what to do, Travis! We’re going to need that dress if we want to compete in the Prettiest Pup Pageant and win the $200 prize!” Terrier Dress sighed at the little dog nestled in his jacket pocket.
“Felix, I know you need to pay back your grandmother but maybe you could take her advice? You know, about getting organized, dressing well, and getting, you know, a job?” Travis rolled his eyes at his oblivious owner. “And it’s not that I’m absolutely thrilled at the prospect of dressing up in a glittery dress and bow so that we can pay our rent, but maybe it’s time to live like a normal person and stop trying to make it as a graphic designer. Let’s face it, nobody wants Courier New on their business cards!”
“Um, I don’t think he can hear you.” Dian had decided to try and talk to Travis to see if he could find out more about Terrier Dress — sorry — Felix.
“You got that right” Travis snorted. “Wait a minute–”
“Hi! I’m Dian and I just escaped from that kitten place your owner was just in.”
Travis was a mix between baffled and enraged at this. “Well, what are you doing here?! How long have you been there?”
“Shush, Travis!” Felix said as he flicked his pet’s ear.
Dian whispered “Look, I know it sounds weird but I got this spoiled kid to adopt me to get here!” Dian had not thought the dog would be so skeptical, but as he said his story out loud, Dian realized he sounded insane.
“But why here? To us?”
“Well, you see, I was always kind of bored and lonely in the kitten shop, my siblings were no fun and I had to spend all of my time in this little clear box.”
“So?” Travis seemed puzzled. “Isn’t that what all kittens do? Just wait to be adopted?”
“But I didn’t want to wait in there forever just to be adopted and lie around in some person’s house.” Dian tried very hard to whisper but to still get his point across. “I’m not really like other kittens. And well, you and Felix kinda seemed like the opposite of boring and lonely, and–”
“You want to tag along with me and Felix for a while?” Travis seemed to understand. “Well, you seem like a good cat, but Felix is kind of in a phase right now–”
At that moment, Felix finally noticed the little runaway under the table.
“Well hello there little cat!” Felix picked up Dian and plopped him on his lap. “You must be lost. But you don’t have a tag or anything.” Felix looked at Dian thoughtfully. “I guess you’ll have to stick with us for now” Felix lifted Dian onto his shoulder. “Don’t worry little guy, we’ll get a cage thingy for you.” Travis watched with dismay.
“Are you crazy? You can’t afford to buy pizza toppings! Nevermind have a cat!” Travis gazed up at Felix. “And besides! You already have a pet.”
“Well, come on, we gotta go see if anyone has a dress for a terrier.” Felix’s face lit up. “Wait a minute! We’ll use you, kitten! We can get a dog costume for you! We’ll decorate it as best we can.”
The next few hours were spent clinging onto Felix’s shoulder while they went from costume store to costume store trying to find a dog costume that would fit Dian. There was quite a bit of confusion between Felix and an employee at Kool Kostumes 4 U. They were greeted quite cheerily.
“Hey! I’m Kimberly. Welcome to Kool Kostumes! What can I do for you?”
“Hello. I’m Felix, and we’d like a dog costume.”
“Sure, I can get’cha a dog costume! How old is the kid?”
“If it was for a kid, I would have asked for a kid costume. This costume is for a kitten.”
Now Kimberly was confused. She tilted her head to one side, her curly strawberry blonde hair falling down her shoulder.
“Um… I’m sorry sir, I thought you wanted a dog costume for a child. Not a dog costume for a cat.”
Felix scoffed at this. “Well, by the establishment’s name I assumed I would be provided with a cool costume for me! And the costume I would like is a dog costume for a cat!”
After this, Kimberly told Felix that she was sorry sir, she couldn’t help him, but that the next time they went to Kool Kostumes they’d be given a coupon for a whole $5 dollars off their next purchase! (As long as it was over $45 of course)
Now, as Dian gripped onto Felix’s jacket shoulder while he asked an elderly woman on the sidewalk if she knew of any stores that sold costumes for cats, Dian wondered if he had made the right decision. Had anyone at Manhattan Kittens missed him? Did his siblings care? Did someone walk in minutes after his Daring Escape, asking for a black fluffy kitten with a wish for adventure? Dian grimly remembered that he had never had to worry about anything happening to him in his little clear box. Out in the Big Bad City, there were fast cars, noise, yelling, not to mention he was trusting his little kitten life to a man and dog he had only met hours before.
Dian’s woes were loudly interrupted however, as the elderly woman exclaimed excitedly, “Oh yes! I know a lovely shop that has little outfits for cats on the East Side! It’s called Claire’s Costumes for Cats and Kittens. Here, I’ll give you the address… I’m sure whatever you get will look wonderful on your little cat.” The woman patted Dian’s head, leaving a scowling Travis peeking out of the jacket pocket.
After Felix hopped out of the cab, having paid only $10 of his cab fare, Dian gazed up at the shop in front of them. It had a lilac-colored oval sign, trimmed with a pink lacy pattern. On the lilac oval read,
Claire’s Costumes for Cats and Kittens.
The first C was adorned with a belled kitty collar, and the K with two cat ears and whiskers.
Travis muttered something about how this was no place for Felix, seeing as this looked a very expensive shop, and how they wouldn’t have had to come here if it weren’t for that nuisance of a cat.
“Hello?” Felix said as he opened the door and a little bell jangled, painfully reminding Dian of Manhattan Kittens.
“May I help you?” A young woman in a pale yellow dress with a minimal cat face on it looked at the three of them curiously. Of course, she only knew of Felix and Dian, Travis had buried himself in the jacket pocket, as even he could tell this shop was not welcoming to dogs.
As Dian glanced about he saw that that Claire’s Costumes for Cats and Kittens was just as dainty as the sign. The walls were the same shade of spring lavender, little cat-sized dresses and costumes embellished the walls. Some glittering blues and greens, some silky violet, and one or two that were certainly unsuitable for cats.
“Yes well, I would like a costume for this kitten here.” Felix held out Dian.
“Ah, then you’d like to go to the Kitten Section. Come with me.”
She lead Felix to some lilac shelves that contained garments similar to those in the front of the store, but slightly smaller and more shiny. As she pointed out the right shelves to go to, Dian noticed her long, sharp, sky blue glittery nails that almost look like cat’s claws themselves.
“And of course here we have the shiny, sparkly dresses, if you want her to really stand out, and–”
“Actually,” Felix interrupted patiently. “He is a male cat, I believe.”
“Alright then, there are some tuxedos over there, but our specialty here really is dresses and bows, so if you’re entering a pageant or competition, I’d really buy one of those.”
“Alright, we’ll buy one of those sparkly bows then, and could you tell me where the costumes are? Like, for Halloween?”
As Glitter Nails helped Felix chose a costume that would fit Dian, Travis had a good chuckle inside the jacket pocket.
“Imagine! You’ll have to wear a dog costume! And a bow!”
Dian took no notice of this, he was far too concerned with what would happen after the pageant. Surely Felix would get tired of him? And Travis wouldn’t blink an eye to see Dian go. Would he have to live on the streets as a stray? Would he have to beg for bread crumbs just to survive? Would he ever find a home? A friend? Or would be be lonely forever?
Felix interrupted Dian’s worries with a flourish, holding up a hanger with a spotted dog costume. It looked a bit big for Dian, but Felix was so ecstatic that Dian didn’t protest when he asked Glitter Nails where he should pay for it. At this moment, however, when everything was looking fine, Travis had had enough of being crammed on the jacket pocket and peeked his complaint filled head out.
He gasped, thirsty for air, “Honestly Felix! What were you thinking? A closed pocket is no place to keep a pet! I could have suffocated! You–”
Glitter nails let out a shriek at Travis’s sudden appearance. “You brought a dog?! This is a place for cats and their owners! Not for filthy dogs!”
Frazzled Felix was more concerned about his purchases than the store’s policies. “Okay… so should I just leave the cash at the counter…?”
Glitter Nails was not amused at this. “Out! You and your pets!”
Felix simply stood, dumbfounded for a moment, before quickly grabbing the costume and bow, and dashing out the door (Don’t worry, he still left his crumpled $32 at the counter).
Felix has made his own Daring Escape, thought Dian as Felix jumped out of their hastily paid for cab and calmly strolled into Central Park.
“Well, at least we got your costume, kitten!” Felix pointed out cheerily.
“Yeah, and all it cost was going to that awful shop, getting kicked out, getting yelled at, and $32!” Travis scolded.
“You know, kitten, we should give you a name.” Felix looked at Dian, thoughtfully. “You know, I can’t just keep calling you Kitten, seeing as you’ll probably be hanging around for a while.”
“My name is Dian!” the little kitten meowed, eagerly. Dian was frustrated when all Felix did was look at him, confused. Right, he can’t hear me, Dian thought, irritated. He would have to show Felix who he was.
“How about… Shadow?” Dian huffed at the suggestion.
“Alright…Raven? Midnight? Asher?” Dian turned his head at all three.
Felix leaned back on the park bench, sighing. “How about Onyx? Phantom? Obsidian?”
Dian joyfully nodded his head. “Yes! That’s it!”
Travis scoffed, “I wish you had found this name giving ability sooner! Maybe I would have a name like Buster or Mahogany.”
“Obsidian it is!” exclaimed Felix proudly.
“Sometimes I wonder where you came from, Obsidian.”
As Felix wondered this, fear shot down Dian’s spine. Is he going to find out I’m a runaway? Will he return me? Dian’s mind whirled.
“Well, wherever you came from, you couldn’t have been that happy there. I reckon you’d have tried to back by now if you were!” He took another bite of his hot dog, the mustard dripping down the napkin onto his wrist. “Its ‘kay, Obsidian. I kinda ran away, too. No one really got me when I was younger, including my family. So as soon as I could leave, I rushed outta there and tried to get some work as a graphic designer.”
Dian gazed at him, amazed at how similar they were.
“Well, it’ll be getting dark soon, so we’d better get going if we want to get to the pageant on time.”
Dian wriggled into the dog costume as Felix stuck the sparkly blue bow on. “I’ve registered you as Dancing Curls, my favorite font, just so you know, Obsidian.”
Dian was starting to get a bit worried about this pageant, seeing as he couldn’t see a thing out of the dog costume’s tiny eye windows. And weren’t the judges observant enough to see that he wasn’t a real dog? Why couldn’t he be more stubborn and complaining like Travis?
“Aaaand now we have Dancing Curls, and her owner, Felix,” an unenthusiastic but booming voice said as an excited Felix ushered Dian on stage.
“Good luck!” hiss-whispered Travis.
“Hello, ladies and gentleman! This is Dancing Curls, my purebred… Schwartz..ing…ton…hound. Yup! And tonight we are going to show you some tricks. Dancing, jump.”
Felix held out a hoop that seemed to have appeared out of thin air. Dian did as he was told though, and attempted a jump. As he lept up, he could feel the costume about to rip, and made a tumble-ish, fall-ish landing. All he could do was thank his lucky stars that it was dark, and that the judges didn’t seem to be paying attention all that much. There might be a chance they don’t notice the costume! The audience wasn’t a problem, it was a bored crowd of about 20 people sitting on uncomfortable chairs.
“Um… Dancing! Dance!” Dian tried his best, getting up on his hind legs and attempting to dance about. But his little kitten legs were short, not like a dog’s. And Dian sort of succeeded. He just looked a bit funny. Like a dachshund trying to get a treat from a giraffe. A few audience members chuckled, which had to have counted for something.
“Alrighty then, Dancing, paw.” This Dian could do effortlessly. He lifted up his paw, and high-fived Felix. But as he did, he heard a dreaded rrrrripp, and looked down to see a tuft of soft black fur among his polyester costume fuzz. Felix noticed this as well.
“And that’s all, folks!” Felix briskly picked up Dian, and rushed backstage. “I don’t think they noticed,” Felix comforted.
Dian felt ashamed. He had let Felix down. He knew it.
“Aww… it’s okay, buddy. You did it! You went up on stage, and you did it. Not flawlessly, but you still did it. And trust me, sometimes, that’s okay.”
“Hey, cat,” Travis said, turning to Dian. “You’ve helped Felix today more than I ever could. You did a huge favor for him, and you barely knew him! Do you think I’d have danced around in a costume and bow? No siree.”
Dian was about to reply when Felix called for him, “Dancing! C’mere!”
Dian ran as fast as he could to the stage, next to Felix.
“And the first place winner is…” the booming voice paused, dramatically. “Cecelia Holiday, and her corgi, Fluffers.”
A euphoric blonde woman holding a little dog shook hands with Booming Voice and took the golden trophy and a giant check.
“The second place winner is… Lucy Brighten, and her dalmatian, Hero.”
As Lucy took her silver trophy and her check, Dian couldn’t help feeling disappointed. He knew he wasn’t the best, but these things always ended with the Good Guys winning, right? Even though they didn’t know a thing about the other contestants and technically they cheated but…
“And the third place winner is… Felix Silversmith and his Schwartzington, Dancing Curls?”
Dian was just as confused as booming voice. But Felix was just off the wall. His eyes brightened as he was given the smallest bronze trophy, and the smallest check that read $210.
“Thank you, thank you!” he beamed, proud as punch, as Booming Voice led him off the stage onto the grass.
Travis rushed towards them. “You did it!”
Felix unzipped the dog costume, leaving nothing but a very thankful Dian.
“Thanks a bunch, Obsidian,” Felix said as he embraced Dian tightly.
“You know,” he said, holding Dian up. “We oughta find a shorter name for you. How about Dian?”