Harold loves the back porch in summer. The sunlight, so glaring on the unprotected grass, is soft and diffused on the gray wooden floor. He watches the patterns of light and shadow created by the leaves of the ancient oak as they whisper in the imperceptible breeze.
The old wicker rocker with its green-gray cushion is his favorite. He prefers the texture of the real wicker to the newer resin chairs. It’s got a roughness where the paint has worn through, which comforts his back in a way that plastic can’t seem to match. A faint mustiness tells him of past summers and of creatures who have called this chair home.
Harold is lulled into sleep by the sounds of suburbia. He tunes into the whoosh of traffic on the highway, a sound so constant he almost forgets its existence. The whistle of the commuter train as it crosses each roadway is hypnotic and unexpected. Cardinals, robins, and doves sing to one another, telling tales of family, food, and danger. Squirrels chatter nonsensically as they run through the yard. A small girl walks down the street with a spotted dog nearly as big as she is. The dog stops, turns his attention to the porch, sniffs the air, and stares. She pulls his leash, impatient to move on.
He’s startled awake by the roar of the garbage truck. Its brakes squeal to a stop. An acrid whiff of rotting things makes its way into his nostrils, disturbing his morning meditation.
Now that he’s awake, he becomes aware of a faint scratching on the floor. Slowly turning his gaze, he sees an ant out for a morning stroll. He watches, fascinated with the tiny, segmented creature and the way its thread-like legs scatter across the wooden planks. He stretches and quietly leaves his chair to get a closer look.
The ant, oblivious to the voyeur, continues its journey home. Harold has other plans for the ant. His black paw darts out, smothering the ant in darkness and heat. He feels movement under his foot and presses firmly until all is still. Curving his claws and toes around the ant, he brings it to his mouth. He feels a sting as the ant makes one final attempt at freedom before it is crushed between his sharp teeth. Not much on taste, Harold thinks, but a satisfying crunch and a sense of accomplishment.
He stretches one more time, digs his claws into the floorboard, jumps back onto his favorite cushion, curls his feline body with his back to the sun, and yawns. It’s been a fine morning.