Once upon a time, there were two kingdoms. Their beauty overpowered by the beasts within. The castles were golden and shimmered brilliantly under sunlight. It was the darkness that enveloped the insides, lurking in corners and clinging to shadows. Only those inside the castles knew the truth and tried mightily to keep the darkness a secret.
Until it became so oppressive; the stale, heavy air choking the life out of all who lived within.
Two sets of royal couples from two different kingdoms collected their children, four in all, and staggered out into the sun, inhaling in the freshness, breathing it deeply into their lungs and exhaling the dank dark that had settled there.
Years later, when dark became light once again and the inhale equaled the exhale, the King from one kingdom found the Queen from the other. They decided to begin anew, together.
They found their own Kingdom. One that had no residual darkness lurking.
The King brought his Prince and Princess, along with three cats and a dog named Gypsy.
The Queen brought her Prince and Princess, along with three cats.
And they lived in shimmery bliss and golden harmony.
Until one of the Kings cats started peeing on the Queens pillow. Daily.
The replacement cost of these pillows in which the royal rested her weary head was becoming a Kings ransom. Something had to be done. So, the cat was banished to live with the Kings ex-Queen. And then, another cat was banished to live there as well. The reason, long ago forgotten. What happened to those cats, a story saved for another time and place.
That left one orange tabby from the Kings original domestic animal zoo. The Queen, she loved this tabby cat and the tabby loved her. Except, instead of darkness lurking in corners, there was bloody poop left from this cat. So, the cat was adopted by another man. The Queen mourned briefly but occupied herself with all the other domestic goodness within the castle.
The Queen, her three cats were perfect. Of course. But, the royal black cat named Simon fell ill. And sadly, he died in her arms when she was 7 months pregnant with another Prince.
The Royal Family was down to four kids with one on the way, four cats and a dog.
Some might say that is plenty. Others might call the royals insane or crazy.
But the Queen, from all the way back when she was a princess, declared she would always have room for cats and kids. And so, she did. Always.
After the birth of the youngest and final Prince, the Queen felt her cat collection needed newness. The numbers were dwindling due to the advanced feline age. Natasha the Sweet died, her liver failed.
The royals knew, kind of, that there would be no more Princes or Princesses of the non-feline kind. They admittedly teetered back and forth on the idea…briefly. But gave up because five healthy were plenty. Besides, the royal funds weren’t so royal. Kids are expensive, yo. Even for a King and Queen.
Instead of reproducing, the Queen decided to add to her collection of kitties. She adopted Zoey and Coco. Her next door neighbor brought over a beautiful kitten he had found and couldn’t keep due to parental allergies so, the Queen kept her and named her Lily.
The King pretended to put up a fuss but his heart was as soft as the Queens.
Another kitten was found in a neighbors yard, barely old enough to be away from its mother. The neighbor knew of the Queens soft heart and sent word of this kitten. The Queen took it in, fed it around the clock and nurtured it. And of course, kept it.
The King pretended to put up another fuss. In the end, his heart won.
The cat count was at 5. The balance was perfect. The cats got along with each other. The dogs got along with the cats, because by now, there were two dogs. The kids got along as well as kids actually get along. The gods were smirking down at this Kingdom. They were probably winking at each other too. And, they were steering clear of this kingdoms air space because it sometimes smelled like cat urine. The gods know how bad cat urine smells. Even in a Kingdom.
Shadows stayed were shadows should stay. And some of the shadows were cast away, allowing only temporary shelter within the castle.
Life was chocolate mountains and coke zero oceans.
The Queen received a phone call from a friend. The friend had found a kitten that was curled up in a hole in a park. It was tiny and dirty and seemed to be abandoned.
Then, the friend sent a picture of this tiny, dirty kitten to the Queen.
The Queen didn’t see dirty, the Queen saw beauty.
And she requested that the friend bring this tiny kitten to her Kingdom immediately.
Where the tiny, abandoned kitten now resides, amongst 5 other cats, 2 dogs and 5 kids.
The King? Went through his usual. But in the end, soft heart makes for soft mind. Or something like that.
The Queen sighs as she strokes her new kitten, Chloe, and wonders if, perhaps, the King might be crazy.