Something is wrong. Tiffany just knows it. The cat-human is taking too long to clean herself. Tiffany chastises herself for not having the foresight to teach the cat-human the finer workings of her bathroom. She had said she hadn’t been a human for some time so she might be having problems in there. The more Tiffany thinks about it, the more it seems necessary for her to check on cat-human in the bathroom. Even if it’s being intrusive.
“Oh my cat.” Tiffany gapes at the water on the walls, floor. There’s even water on the mirror opposite the bathtub. And suds. Suds on the bottle rack, all around the bathtub, the floor around it.
“Meow,” says the cat sitting in the middle of the bathtub with its pink furry ears pricked up.
Tiffany is torn between scolding the suds out of the cat and squatting down to give it a good rub. The cat’s good-natured almost-smile and its swaying tail win out on the tussle and she finds herself leaning over the edge of the bathtub to rub it. The cat purrs and Tiffany smiles. It’s just too adorable to scold. And the thought that this must be the first bath it’s gotten in a long while diminishes the anger inside.
“You’re really enjoying the bath, aren’t you?”
The cat nods. “Meow.”
“Oh well, I might as well give you a good scrub and groom you properly.” Having said that, Tiffany sets off to complete the task.
Moments later, the cat stands on a towel, dried and brushed. Its fur is still a kind of dirty pink but that must be its natural colour and not due to dirt as Tiffany thought it was. Well of course, cats clean themselves all the time, don’t they? She should have known. The cat purrs as Tiffany strokes its body and she can’t help grinning at the affectionate way the cat leans into her hands when she does it. It is such a lovely, pretty cat.
“What’s gonna happen when you change back into a human?” Tiffany asks. “Will you be clean?”
The cat jumps off the counter and walks out of the bathroom, into the bedroom. There, it twitches its nose and this time Tiffany is all prepared with a bathrobe for the naked girl. The girl slips her arms into the sleeves and wraps the bathrobe around her body, securing it with the sash.
“Thank you,” she says.
Tiffany looks closely at her and she backs away, alarmed. “Don’t worry,” says Tiffany. “I’m only checking up on you.”
“I’m clean,” says the girl. She seems a little unhappy with the little pout on her face.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad.”
Her apology seems to be all the girl needs to smile again. She nods and walks back to the cookie jar. “May I have one now?”
Tiffany smiles at the hungry look on the girl’s face. “Tell me your name again and I’ll give you a cookie.”
“My name is Taengoo. May I have a chocolate chip cookie, please?”
Tiffany nods and almost laughs when Taengoo opens the jar and pulls out a cookie with a look of bliss. “Why do you like the cookie so much?”
“I haven’t had chocolate for months. I’ve been eating leftovers from the restaurant down the street. There’s a nice man who feeds me scraps and I hunt for more food if I’m still hungry.”
Tiffany’s heart goes out to Taengoo upon hearing her explanation. She can’t imagine eating scraps from a restaurant. With her arms outstretched, she gives Taengoo a hug. The girl pulls back slightly at first, but does not resist. Neither does she hug Tiffany back, however. Tiffany releases her and looks into her gentle eyes. “Are you uncomfortable when I hug you?”
Taengoo thinks for a moment then shakes her head. “No, I’m just not used to it. But it’s quite nice.”
“You didn’t hug me back so I thought you didn’t like it.”
Taengoo shakes her head. She smiles and shows Tiffany the cookie in her hand. “I didn’t hug you back because I didn’t want to crush the cookie.”
Tiffany begins to laugh as the absurdity of the entire situation sinks into her. First, she brings home a pink furry cat. Then the cat turns into a pretty woman. And she just gave the cat a bath and left her bathroom in a mess. Yet, this cat-human would rather protect her cookie than return a hug.
Absurd. Absurd. Absurd. How very absurd.