Horace is porous, which makes him prey for tears.

But Horace is porous, which means there is hope for him yet.

To the naked eye, Horace does not appear any more absorbent than the typical cat. He is white cotton woven tight with brown plaid, as weatherproof as anything available at L.L. Bean.

But naked eyes are beady. They are prone to squint until they believe in things that do not exist, like “typical cats,” and “ordinary days,” and “vegan ‘cheese.'”

Horace is porous, so he keeps his eyes wide. They bend the light like prisms, taking each beam on its own terms. This sort of sight is reserved for the brave. Look at your life, and you may love enough to cry.

In a schlocky plot, Horace would not be cast as the hero. He hid both his head and his heart. We could not see those green prisms glowing under his raincoat.

But schlocky plots do not tell true stories. They tie up loose ends in thirty minutes, while real life is epic.

Horace absorbed the message of his majesty among the trees and truths. Someone loved him enough to save him. She did not interrogate him. She did not evaluate him. She just treasured him, a task which costs tears.

In a flower bed, Horace would appear to be the bulb that did not “take.” He burrowed behind proud petals. Let Mr. Mustache be the daffodil in a tall top hat. Let Chicken Nugget be the iris rising to every kiss.

But flower beds are patient places. Horace observed and absorbed every dewdrop doted upon another cat. Horace felt the sun of every smile he could not yet return.

Horace is porous, and he took everything in.

This is a dangerous quest, even for a hero. It ranks between “going to Target on a Saturday morning” and “sampling every flavor of Mountain Dew in one sitting.”

When your heart is porous, new friendships pour in. (Horace loves Poppa, and Poppa loves Horace, and the sum total of love in the universe just spiked.)

But heroes do not fear getting wet, even if the rain is their own tears. Horace might tremble, but he would not close his eyes. Horace might flatten himself like tissue paper, but he would not remain dry.

He began experimenting with the wet world of “welcome.”

There were feats of chin-skritching, then panicked retreats under the cabinet. But a chin once skritched will itch for life.

There were grants of stolen kisses, then bailouts to the bunker of his cubby. But foreheads crowned with smooches convince shy kings to reign.

There were friends with longer tails who told the truth. The old red daffodil declared Horace his nephew. Poppa set his kind eyes on the halting hero. Chicken Nugget promised Horace that, on the day dinosaur nuggets finally manifest in Suite D, Horace could have the best triceratops.

Love was torrential.

But the barometric pressure is fickle.

Horace’s beloved Rawlings was adopted. Horace’s kissers had to go back to college. Horace’s pages were never the same two days in a row.

Horace’s life was changing, which meant Horace was alive.

Horace is porous, so Horace accepted the obligation to be alive.

Like love, living is a choice we are free to reject. We may plastic-wrap our hours. We may freeze-dry our feelings. We may deem loss too horrid, and acquire insurance policies against emotion.

Even then, a single drop may change everything.

A single Poppa may burst the bubble of loneliness, as these photos reveal.

It takes just one tear to break hard ground. It takes just one “yes” to harrow the safety of “no.” But before you can protest, a bulb once buried may bloom. A heart once guarded may gallop.

A cat once cautious may absorb the call to be a hero.

Horace is porous, and I want to be, too.

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