When you are full of light, you are not afraid to fall.
When you are Photini, you are not afraid, full stop.
You are not afraid of Olive‘s foul language or phenomenal volume.
You are not afraid of the rumor that there are people who do not butter their grilled cheese sandwiches.
You are not afraid of your own heart.
You are not even aware that this makes you unusual among cats and humans. You are too busy specializing in life to recognize that you have Special Needs or special skills. You don’t want pity. You don’t need reassurance.
You are, after all, Photini. You are the cat the colors of apple strudel, and you have rolled your diagnoses into the dough of “so what?” The world worries, but you come from a land of light. Kind hands flutter around you, and noble hands contain poultry cookies, but trembling hands need to take heart.
Photini forgets why we worry. We look away rather than remind her. What good could come from pouring cayenne on her sweet cinnamon? She does not need to know that her heart is weak as water. She does not seem to experience her own syncopal episodes, brief horror films where she goes completely flat. She simply leaps back to her lithe, laughing feet, leaving us shaken like peppercorns.
We try to wash the shadows from our faces when she’s not looking. It’s only thirty seconds of her day, after all. What’s a little fainting between friends? The one-cat Department of Power and Light restores her electricity in the time it takes to melt butter. She returns from the dead to pole vault the 5′ gate into Jonathan’s office, just to see the look on Marcia‘s face. She takes a U-turn from the unknown world so she can harass the hippopotamus we call Hips.
She lures us back into laughter, the skinny spice cookie clobbering the tailless white whale. She cures us of our fear.
Until it happens again.
And lately, it’s happening more and more frequently.
Metaphysically, Photini’s heart is pure light. It cannot be touched by disease, cheese deprivation, or infomercials. It forgives all, welcomes all, expands the definition of “all” to include every glum human and every improbable adventure. It runs up and down the halls, sneaking through the door to Quinn’s Corner, breathlessly trying to catch up with Photini’s hooligan body. It researches Ph.D. programs in “hooligannery” after we all go home.
Physically, Photini’s heart is in trouble. Her syncopal episodes are also known as “sudden aborted death.” The more often they occur, the more likely it becomes that the terrible task will be completed. The more I think about it, the more my eyes fill with tears, and the less Photini understands me.
She can only try to comfort me.
So she unscrews the lid of the cinnamon shaker and dumps herself into my lap. She campaigns for treats, making full use of her fawning fold-over ear. She hurls her heart like heat lightning, a tiny cat who thinks she is Thor and is not incorrect.
She skips directly to dessert, day after uncertain day.
Perhaps Photini knows all about the peril under her ribs. Each time she faints, she rises as though she’s been given fresh batteries and new high-tops. She is virulent merriment, infectious light. Could she be making the most of her days because she can count them on her toes?
Or is she simply here with all her heart?
Photini has purchased the only moment fear can’t afford. Once she has lived it fully, she will buy the next, and the next, and the next, until…who can tell?
Who would mortgage a single moment for self-pity?
Who would miss the opportunity for this hour’s hooligannery?
Not Photini. And, if she has her say (which seems certain), not you, not me, not even Hips and Olive.
Let’s play as long as we have light.