Julienne Trent

Many years ago, when all cats were still feral and roamed freely in the forest, there lived a dark brown tabby kitten with bright eyes. Her eyes were as green as sorrel, and that was what she was called. Sorrel, in addition to having bright eyes, was also bright in the sense that she was clever and curious about many things. This curiosity often got her into trouble; her mother was constantly reprimanding her for getting into things she wasn't supposed to touch, saying, "Why can't you just go and take a nap in the sun with your brother? He never gets into trouble!"

She was right, of course. Poppy never did get into trouble—that was because he never did anything but eat, sleep, and dip his paws lazily into the river to watch the ripples. Sorrel liked her brother just fine, but he was awfully boring. He never wanted to play, and if he did he never wanted to climb trees; he said it hurt his paws.

One morning Sorrel, already bored just as the sun reached its greatest height in the sky, followed her mother out on her hunt. After a few minutes her mother set her sights on a mouse in the undergrowth, just as Sorrel spotted an unfamiliar brightly-colored bird she had never seen before. It had glimmering iridescent plumage with golden highlights that glittered like the sun. Sorrel was instantly curious, as was her nature, and so she turned and said "Mommy, look!" just as her mother was about to pounce on the mouse. The momentary distraction caused her to lose her balance and land in the dirt on her side with a soft thud, and Sorrel's shrill mew had scared away both the mouse and the bird.

"Sorrel!" Her mother snapped. "You made me lose that mouse!"

"I'm sorry," she said meekly. "I just wanted to show you a bird."

Her mother sighed. "Why don't you go play with your brother?"

"He's boring," she said sulkily.

"Sorrel." Her tone was a warning, gentle but still firm.

"Fine," Sorrel sighed and padded back to the rocks outside their den where Poppy was already lying fast asleep in the sun. His dark brown fur rose and fell softly with his breathing, and the gold sunlight sparkled on the clear stream of water that ran a few feet away from him. It reminded her of the bird, with his feathers so bright they seemed to reflect the sun too. Sorrel suddenly felt unsatisfied with her own blandly colored paws. She was just dark brown with no variation, like every other cat. She wanted to have beautiful plumage like a bird. And suddenly she had an idea.

If the bird's feathers were tinged with sunlight, all she had to do to change the color of her pelt was climb up a tall enough tree and touch the sun with one paw. She would catch a ray and break it over her fur, and then her pelt would be as beautiful as the bird's. It was a perfect plan.

A determined young soul who always went after what she wanted, Sorrel immediately set off on finding the tree. She soon found one that was at just the right angle to reach the sun as it was on its way down, but it was much higher than any Sorrel had climbed before. With only a flicker of hesitation, she took a deep breath and began springing with all her might up the tree. Her short legs made it a slow process, and before she was even a quarter of the way up every muscle in her body was aching. But she persisted and eventually she was balanced on the highest branch, just as the sun was starting to set. As it passed, the blazing light so close to her face momentarily blinded her, so she shut her eyes. Still, she hadn't forgot what she came her to do; Sorrel reached out with her extended claws and snatched wildly for a sunbeam. Just as she managed to clutch a searing hot ray, the branch snapped. Sorrel yelped and flailed as she fell through the tree branches and lost hold of her sunbeam; it shattered above her and scattered golden-orange light across the trees, immediately causing several leaves to flutter to the earth along with her. The crunchy leaves just barely softened her fall, and her ears were ringing from the impact for several minutes before she could stand up again. Nonetheless, Sorrel stood up and dusted herself off, and abruptly realized that her pelt was now glittering golden orange. She felt a thrill of exhilaration in her chest—she'd been successful! She couldn't believe it! But what on earth had happened to the trees?

Leaves still fluttered down around her in varying shades of red, orange, and gold. Now other cats were emerging from their dens, all of them with unique patterns from the scattered sunbeam. They were looking up and at each other, perplexed by all the new colors and patterns they were seeing. Then, after a few minutes, every one of them seemed to lose interest simultaneously. They just continued about their business, not seeming to mind that they were suddenly new colors all around her. Sorrel wasn't much surprised; most of the cats she knew had very limited levels of interest in things like this, and they were all busy with their own lives. They just accepted this new development without much questioning and kept doing whatever they had been before.

Sorrel was a bit worried that she'd done something awful when all the trees lost their leaves for a few months, but eventually they grew back and did the same thing a few months later. Again, no cats seemed to mind. A bit strange at first, sure, but soon it just became a part of the natural rhythm of life for them all. And ever since then, cats have been born in all different colors, and have never paid much more attention to it than they did when it first happened. They take even more naps in the sun now, and sometimes their fur glows in the sunlight. Sorrel would be proud to see what her young escapades have led to; even if she herself found naps in the sun boring, she would be proud to have made a mark on the world.

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