“Ok Thistle, today’s a special day,” Tanya spoke to her room at large as he she bustled about, knowing her cat would hear (even if it didn’t understand). “Today I go out to visit where Mommy lives. I need to find some flowers to give to her ground first tho. Will you help me, Thistle?” The little girl clasped a cloak around her shoulders and picked up a wicker basket. She looked at the cat, lazing about it the corner. She took its nonchalance as a sign that it’d follower her through the process and to her mother’s grave.
Tanya had been alone for nearly a year now; her mother had died two years earlier and the older boy who lived with them left almost a year to the day (well, as it can be reckoned by the planet she was on, which had years just over 400 days) after her mother died. She hadn’t seen nor heard from him or any other human being since. Still, the land was fertile with many edible plants and fish-like creatures who slithered on land, and she had a good spring in her room, a large cave well-suited to her purposes. Tanya skipped through the forest, stopping occasionally to pick berries, nuts, and fruits to eat and store for future meals.
There were few flowers on this world; no insects meant that plants pollinated differently. Still, she knew of a small copse of what she considered flowers not far from her mother’s gravesite. In reality, they were fruits in shapes that her mother once said resembled peonies, but they were all the girl knew. She picked a few as her companion stalked through the bushes and between the large plants. The little girl looked over her shoulder and rolled her eyes at her cat. “What are you stalking, little Thistle? There ain’t no fishwalkers nearby.”
She was proven wrong as Thistle left, reflection from the sun glinting off of it mid-air. The cat landed on a “fishwalker,” suffocating the animal. After it died, the cat dissipated around it, reforming together and slithering back to Tanya’s side. As far as she knew, Thistle didn’t need to eat. After all, it resembled a large, sentient puddle of mercury. She knew Thistle wasn’t water; the fishwalkers were amphibious and couldn’t breathe its body. Whatever Thistle was, it was Tanya’s cat.
Tanya didn’t really know what a cat was, of course. This world didn’t have any. But her mother had discussed an old cat she had growing up, and when Tanya discovered Thistle a month or so after her mother’s death near the grave site, she’d brought the creature back to her room. The boy didn’t like it. Sometimes she thought maybe Thistle was why he left.
The cat vibrated visibly, a low tone reverberating off of it. Tanya assumed this was how Thistle purred. She thanked it and retrieved the fishwalker it had hunted for her. Finishing her business of picking the flowers, Tanya turned toward the gravesite, finishing her small trek. She laid the flowers on the stone they’d marked her mother’s grave with and lay down in the dirt beside it. Thistle stalked around the perimeter while Tanya did her monthly ritual.
Maybe someday she’d meet someone else. But until then, the three of them had each other.