Dead cautious, the mouse peeks out from her leafy shelter, whiskers twitching, nose aquiver in alert concentration, like a runner the instant before the starting gun goes off. Every nerve alive to gusts and scents and rustles. Hunger is her incentive; fear keeps her safe.
On a step above, crouches the cat, frozen. Only his fur stirs gently in the breeze and his tail, out of sight in the shrubbery, gently swishes back and forth, back and forth.
The mouse ventures forward a fraction, pauses, sniffs the air, and again advances.
The cat, unblinking, front half immobile, wiggles his rear end back and forth, faster and faster, winding up for the spring. The mouse, pure instinct, stops dead, freezes and spins, but the cat, an explosion of murderous energy, catapults towards her. In an instant he’s swallowed the distance, but she’s away, scuttling through the undergrowth. She’s still within his reach but he slows abruptly. He’s never sure what to do at this point. Hunger is not part of his experience.
Slowly, sinuously he arches his back both front legs pushed forward to the maximum, then shifts his weight to his front legs and stretches out his back legs in turn, luxuriously wiggling each of his toes. He settles crouched on all fours, eyes closed, soaking up the sun – mouse forgotten
The mouse, still quivering some distance away pokes her head around a stalk and listens. The dangers of the day have just begun.
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