The old man reclined in his chair and lifted his feet onto the poof that he shared with the cat. He popped open a can of Lemon Fizz and slurped loudly from the can before setting it down on the small table beside him. He adjusted his robes, brushing away the dust that had gathered over the afternoon. He looked at the cat. The cat looked bored, having grown tired of grooming itself near to death. It startled at the fizz of the can being opened, its eyes all dark and slitty and its tail switching about in the evening air.
“Where’s mine?” the cat asked.
“Your thumbs painted on?” the old wizard asked. The cat had been born with opposable thumbs. Many thought it a peculiar and unusual thing for a cat to have working thumbs. Strangely, no one thought much of his ability to speak. The cat lifted itself from the chair and stretched itself into an arc before leaping from the poof, in search of a drink.
“So where’d you put them?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder toward the wizard.
“The blue esky, and make sure you shut it properly tonight. I woke up to find slush in the thing this morning…” he chastised the cat. The cat leaned back on it haunches and wrestled with the lid of the esky, eventually freeing it from its locks. He drew out a can of Orange Tang and as instructed to do so, he replaced the lid and secured it firmly. He lay the can on its side and proceeded to roll it back to the poof.
“It will fizz everywhere, you know that,” the wizard informed the cat.
“What’s up your robes tonight, old man?” the cat asked. It was true. The old man had been grumpy since lunchtime.
“Nothing much, thanks for asking,” he said, watching the cat tilt the can upright to crack it open with his infamous thumb.
“This is me you’re talking to,” the cat retorted, jumping back up onto the poof.
“There’s nothing up my robes, I’m fine, really…,”
“Yeah, right…talk to the paw,” the cat replied, holding his paw toward the wizard whilst deliberately looking the other way.
The cat dropped its paw and swung its head back toward him, staring at him with its large china blue eyes.
“Wanna talk about it?” he asked
The old man drew a deep breath and wriggled about in his chair.
“You remember the tablet we dropped on the Earth…the one with the pinch of goodwill and all that?”
“Yep – October 21 - .8:26 pm. I told you it wouldn’t work, remember?” The cat took a long swig from his can and then belched.
“Yes. I remember. And you were right. It hasn’t made a scrap of difference it seems. I just thought that maybe this year it might…” his voice trailed away.
“You’re not going to give up, are you? Just because you made a bad batch?” the cat asked.
“It’s Christmas Eve. Its too late to do anything now,” the old man sighed. “Tomorrow they’re going to get drunk and fight with their relatives and half of them wont remember the day and I guess I just wanted it all to be just that little bit different for once,” the old man lamented. “You know, make them see beyond all the catalogues and bottle shop sales.” he added.
“Well, its not all bad. Why don’t we rustle up a cracker of a sunrise instead? That wont take long to mix up and toss over the edge.”
The old man’s face softened a little as he considered the cat's proposal.
“You wouldn’t mind helping. Really? I just want to do something that I know has made some little difference…”
“Come on…’ said the cat, jumping down from the poof.
Together they toddled off to the wizard’s chamber and in record time had concocted a perfectly set Christmas Sunrise in tablet form. They rolled the tablet from the room, down the narrow hall and out the back passage toward the edge of their world.
“Same deal..on three..”said the cat.
“On three,” agreed the old man.
“One…two..three…” they shoved the tablet over the edge and peered after it, watching it spin through space and time.
“How will we know?” the cat asked.
“We’ll have to watch tomorrow’s weather, I suspect,”
“You wanna know what I would have got you if we did presents?”
“Sure – what would you have got me?”
“Socks and Jocks,”
“Oh. Thanks. That would have been good. Want to know what I would have got you?”
“Gloves. With thumbs.”
“You’re welcome. Merry Christmas then,”
“Yes. Merry Christmas.”