I planned to write about my hopes and dreams for the New Year.

Unfortunately, I must instead begin 2021 with a disturbing story. 

On Christmas day, my parents had a gift for my cat, Blinker.  I accepted the crinkly stuffed marshmallow and cup of hot chocolate on Blinker’s behalf, as she was practicing extreme social distancing and refused to leave our house.

Due to heavy snow and ice, I spent the night at my parent’s house.  I was away from home overnight for the first time in a year.  As a consequence, Blinker missed her Christmas Eve dinner.

This is when the trouble began.

If you have a cat, you know they always let their owners know when they are displeased.

She shunned me, of course.  Sure, she purred a bit when I first came through the door to make sure I served her missed meal, but afterwards she had her tail in the air and her butt in my face.

I decided to hold off on giving her the crinkly marshmallow and mug.  I’d wait until she was in a better mood, ready to play instead of sitting around giving me the stink eye.  When she was out of the room, I hid the toys.  She knows she isn’t allowed on the kitchen counter, and even if she went up there, she’d have no reason to explore the top of the microwave, especially since I sandwiched the toys between the loaf of bread and sleeve of English muffins I keep there.

After a few more hours of snow, I suited up and went out to shovel the driveway.  The snow was heavy, and I helped a few neighbors, so I was outside for nearly an hour.

When I walked in the front door, I heard whimpering.  I ran up the stairs and found Blinker, curled around a red object, her claws sunk deep into the soft fabric.

“Oh no,” I said.  “No, it can’t be.”

She’d found my hiding spot.  She was torturing the poor whimpering hot chocolate mug, kicking him with her claws, biting him, licking him until he screamed.

Reader, it wasn’t pretty.

I left him to his fate.  There was nothing I could do.

I ran into the kitchen, which appeared undisturbed but I knew better.  I flung aside the bread and English muffins and raised my hands to my head in terror.

The marshmallow was gone.

“Where is he?” I demanded.  “What have you done to him?”

She didn’t reply, just looked at me with that one eye and an expression that said it all.  It was retribution for her missed Christmas Eve dinner.

Like any good mob boss, she hadn’t taken her revenge on me directly, but on the ones I was sworn to protect.

I searched everywhere for the marshmallow—beneath the bed and the couch.  I searched her bin of toys, and the basket of blankets, and behind my office desk where she likes to bat my pens when I am working.

No marshmallow.

She resisted my interrogation.  I offered her head scratches, an extra can of Fancy Feast, a new Amazon box.  I promised to ask for brown paper bags the next time I went to the grocery store.

Nothing worked.  She didn’t cave.

Even a night in the clink didn’t weaken her resolve.

As of this hour, the marshmallow is still missing.  I fear he has come to a bad end.

Pray for him.