The Knight and the Damsel

To my little furry ball: you have made my life so much easier. 

*   *   *

The night has never been this freezing, well… in fact, it has, but for a new-born kitten who up until this point had been nurtured by her loving mother, Mury only had a cardboard box in the corner of a dingy storage room as reference. She could barely walk in the howling wind that pounded her roughly – so much so that her feeble body shuddered. There must have been 10 grocery stores and restaurants that she has walked by, but no one even noticed her petite silhouette against a backdrop of hazy and gloomy sky.

She was cast away from her mother by some jackass who owned a barber shop. He didn’t want any more female cats to take care of since they would eventually give birth to more kittens, so Mury and her sister had to be gone. But to where could they go? Her sister had vanished into the darkness long before Mury realized what was happening – between her and her mother, the door to the barber shop was shut, and for the first time in her life, her mother was not around. She was just too young to understand the word “abandonment,” but that was, cruelly, the very first story of her life.

She kept aimlessly walking down the street looking for a shelter of any kind to survive the excruciating cold – nothing turned up. Snow began to spiraling down in a manner that seemed to mock Mury’s most unfortunate fate, as if the biting wind wasn’t enough already. However, for a city as far north as Hailar, Mury was just one of hundreds of stray animals who were about to freeze to their deaths in December, unless, she would vow to become someone’s guardian and spend her life borrowed from the fickle higher-dimension figure – whomever that may be.

The sky grew darker and the night got even colder. Mury lost the strength to walk any further and collapsed by a heap of snow that, to some extent, shielded her from the roaring wind. This was it, a powerless creature at the mercy of everything around her was reaching to the end of her fleeting life, in which she was born, barely learned to walk and then discarded by a douchebag like some basic piece of garbage. Mury exerted the last bit of her willpower to curl up in order to preserve warmth, or what’s left of it, and the rest was no longer up to her.

People started to walk by when the rush hour began; Mury wanted to meow at them to get their attention but it was simply an exercise of futility – her voice was too weak and her white fur blended right into the snow. Her whiskers, crystalized; her tail, frozen; then her chest, stopped heaving.

The street light slowly receded to an infinitesimal point on the horizon; the noise quieted down and turned into a melody so soothing that all the pains went away. Mury found herself inside a bright gossamer tunnel with an ethereal figure looming at the end and she was traveling toward it.

“Did you know what love is?” A voiced echoed.

“No, I was cast away from my mother. I was one-month old and I died.”

“If a family were to take you home and gave you unconditional love, would you spend the rest of your life trying to protect that family?”

“I would!”

Mury’s paws twitched, she felt a poke on the forehead and looked up: a boy was dusting snow off of her body and wrapping her in a scarf. She was saved. The next thing she knew was a bowl of milk with bread crumbs in it, and a world of blacks and whites regained color.

Mury wasn’t quite ready to trust another human yet, but the family gave her compelling reasons to start to. The mother began making whipped fish for her the day after she joined the family; the boy always brought back little toys for her and played with her; the father initially didn’t really want a fur dispenser running around and scratching expensive furnitures, but nothing an overdose of cuteness couldn’t fix. Just two weeks into the family, Mury has gained herself a corner on the father’s workstation where he sketched and scribbled.

With the blissful addition to the family, there was more laughter and joy. It was as if Mury wasn’t a cat, but a genuine human being – she understood a large part of the family conversation and often reacted to different cues accordingly. For the longest time, the boy thought bringing Mury home was the best decision he has ever made. For Mury, although there was nothing to compare with, she couldn’t have asked for anything better from the family.

One night Mury was sneaking around, as always, in the boy’s closet, leaving a trail of hair behind. Suddenly the ethereal figure she had once seen emerged out of thin air.

“The family saved you gave you a home; now you shall bless the family and save them from any harm.” The figure said.

“But how? I am a cat.”

“Not anymore, you now have the power of a guardian.” The figure said and then dissolved into nothingness.

From then on, Mury possessed an ability to foresee any ominous future and forestall it, or turn it into auspicious signs. The family was involved in a car accident that could have been a deadly car crash had the father started the engine one second sooner; the mother has had a streak of good lucks which she couldn’t explain; the U.S. embassy in China was having a system break-down for the student visa applications during one summer, but the boy’s application somehow came through without any hindrance; the father was promoted and given a rather profitable project.

People believed in chance, coincidence and hard work, not knowing somewhere in the higher dimension, our life had been carefully orchestrated by beings beyond our comprehension. The one that brought Mury back from death could be just one in a million, above whom, maybe there were orders more complex that not even the brightest mind on earth could begin to understand. The family have always seen Mury as an adorable house cat who answered to treats and laser pens, but to her, they were the creatures who needed protection.

In the winter of 2016, the eighth year into the family, Mury sensed a fatal disease was about to befall a member of the family. But this time it was different from any other instances in the past – the force came from a foreign realm that was unknown to her, it was inimical, and it was scornful. Mury asked the ethereal figure about the shadowy premonition but even the figure didn’t have an answer.

“The universe is an equilibrium. For one to live, another must demise. I am fortunate enough to handle life, but somewhere out there, a force must co-exist to counterbalance me. But I am sorry, I don’t have an answer to your question as I, too, don’t fully understand the force.”

“So you are saying you don’t know if there is a way to stop this from happening?”

“No, I do not.”

But Mury didn’t give up hope and she tried everything she could to protect the family from this unprecedented malevolence. She didn’t sleep for days on end just to fight back the dark force circling the house; like a medieval knight she would defend the family with swords and shields. The battle has attenuated her strength but not her soul – they assailed, she fought back. Being a mortal against a higher dimension, Mury stood no chance for the long haul. Knowing that she would eventually fail, she offered herself to the dark force.

“For one to live, another must demise. I will be the one to demise!” Mury cried, “I swore to be a guardian, I will die before anything happens to the family – my family!”

“Is it even worth it?” The darkness growled.

“I owe my life to my family. I died without dignity in a heap of snow the last time; this time I will die with honor!”

“So be it.”

*    *    *

Just last night I got the grim news from my parents that Mury has contracted cancer. She can barely walk; she lost her appetite; she is emaciated from the illness; she squirms on the couch every single day but she still fights to greet mom and dad every evening at the door. I don’t know if she will ever recover. What I do know is that my family have been safeguarded by this little furry ball since the day I took her home.

Thank you Mury, you have been the valiant Knight of my life and I, was the damsel in your story.

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