Guest post by Phoebe and Hawkeye Banks, as told to T.J. Banks
(Phoebe and Hawkeye have had their own little office romance going for a few years now. And, despite a bumpy beginning, they’ve managed to make it work. One morning, they shared their story with me. –TJB)
Hawkeye: For the longest time, the office here was all mine. Well, I shared it with the Older Human, of course. I went over her manuscripts, tended her plants for her (plants have to be cropped back periodically, you know), and studied the birds at the feeders outside the window. She writes about the oddest stuff sometimes, and I figured she might need to know about birds. I got a paw on her routine very quickly: within a few weeks, I was able to set up shop in the mail basket on the table…right next to her desk so that I was available for consulting. A lot of the papers had been there a long time, and I felt pretty sure that the Older Human had forgotten all about them. The basket was just the right size for a cat of my inches.
Sometimes the Younger Human would come in and use the computer. But mostly it was just the Older Human and myself. And I liked it that way.
Phoebe: To tell the truth, I didn’t pay much attention to Hawkeye or the office when I first came here. (Hawkeye looks a little discombobulated by this comment. Phoebe lowers her charcoal-gray head and gives him a sidelong glance.) I had been a stray, you know, so I was just glad of a nice warm house, regular meals, and humans who fussed over me. Besides, there was so much to do. Circe was here then (she looks wistful, remembering her Blue Aby friend who died a few months ago), and we were busy running races, climbing cat trees, and just having a good time. And I started fostering Cheshire and Derv Jr. – they’d been abandoned under somebody’s deck and needed lots of looking after. Then Keisha died, and I took over her duties as Chief Cat. So, my paws were pretty full. But after awhile, I began thinking that I’d like having a quiet place to go to, especially when my boys got too rambunctious. And the study was the only place I could think of.
Hawkeye: So she just sashays in here, waving that plumy tail of hers. (Tries to muster up a good scowl but can’t keep a bit of a purr from burbling up.)
Phoebe: I was very respectful of his space. (Wraps the aforesaid plumy tail around her paws.) But I couldn’t help noticing things. Like the silvery flecks scattered throughout his black fur – very distinguished, especially when combined with those crescent-moon markings around his eyes. And the way he would suddenly leap up on his hind legs like a kitten. It showed me that he had a playful side, too. And I think that’s very appealing in a man, although (she looks at him reprovingly) you weren’t very nice to me in the beginning. You used to snap at me when I tried to wash your ears.
Hawkeye (shifting from one paw to the other): Well, I was used to being on my own. And Phoenix was always better with the girls than I was. (His voice wobbles a little, for his friend has passed over, too.) I didn’t know how to respond at first. But, then…well, one day, it just kinda hit me that I liked your doing it. That it was nice. (Embarrassed, he begins to wash the top of Phoebe’s head a little too vigorously.)
Phoebe (flattens her ears): Ouch! That’s rough! (Hawkeye looks surprised but goes more gently.) Much better. (Blinks up at him.) Anyway, after awhile, he realized that I didn’t have any designs on his basket, and we worked out who did what. I tooth-marked the papers that I thought needed seeing to immediately and paw-blocked things on the computer screen. Hawkeye did the final edits and the more creative stuff. The rest of it all fell into place, especially after I gave up fostering.
Hawkeye (pretends to growl): Took you long enough.
Phoebe: Well, it was hard to stop. After all, I was good at it. But my boys are all grown up now, and now I have more time for us. (Does the blinky thing again.) There is an ‘us,’ isn’t there?
Hawkeye: Yeah, I guess. (But he is purring and looking very male, very smug.)
T.J. Banks is the author of A Time for Shadows and Catsong. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Single Parent’s Soul and A Cup of Comfort for Women in Love. She lives with her son Zeke and their cats in a sometimes peaceable, but always interesting kingdom in Connecticut.
Photos ©T.J. Banks, used with permission