The Boy & the Kitten

by Mikhail Strannik

The Boy and the Kitten

A pack of dogs was chasing a small kitten who was running away from them at full speed. The kitten ducked down a side street and came into a short alley that ended in a cozy courtyard with several medium-sized trees. He immediately ran up one of them. The dogs surrounded the tree and barked angrily. The kitten was out of their reach. They raged for half an hour, but then, convinced of the complete futility of their efforts, the dogs left the alley.

About five minutes later, a boy of about ten, named Roy, came out into the courtyard. He noticed a kitten who was afraid to come down from the tree and mewed plaintively. Roy smiled and, after spitting on his palms, started to climb the tree without hesitation. The kitten went up a little higher until the branches became so thin that they sagged under his tiny weight. The boy made another effort and almost reached the kitten.

“Come here, come!” Roy beckoned him.

The kitten did not move, and suddenly the boy met his eyes. In an instant Roy found himself on the seashore, which was covered with sand and pebbles. The boy looked around in surprise. The sun was going down, and the waves were breaking in spray at Roy’s feet. A narrow sandy spit stretched into the distance, and a very small house could be seen not far away. Near the house, there was a half covered with sand old fishing boat. The boy took off his shoes, and his feet felt the pleasant chill of the sand.

“Where am I?” Roy wondered.

“You are inside me,” a quiet voice replied.

“Are you going to climb down the tree?” the boy asked.

“It’s scary,” the voice said guiltily.

“Come into my arms.”

“Just look away!”

For a moment Roy saw the kitten’s eyes in front of him. The boy withdrew his gaze and found himself on the tree again. The kitten slid down into his hands and then got on Roy’s back. The boy began to slowly descend and soon jumped to the ground. Roy took the kitten in his arms, and together they went to the boy’s home.

On entering the door, Roy exclaimed, “Mom, I brought a kitten!”

“Pour him some milk,” a gentle female voice said, and a young woman peeped out of the kitchen. “Why are you barefoot?”

February 13, 2023.

Translated from Russian by Maxim Sviridenkov.

About the author

Mikhail Strannik

Mikhail Strannik is the pen name of Mikhail Dymshyts, a Russian poet and fiction writer. Born in 1969, he graduated from the First Moscow State Medical University in 1995. His first book of poems On the edge of reality (Na grani realnosti) appeared in 2010. Since then he has published more than a dozen books of poetry and fiction for children and adults. Mikhail is a member of the Writers’ Union of Russia. For his literary work, he was awarded several Russian prizes, including Nekrasov Prize and Chekhov Prize. He lives in Moscow, Russia.

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