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Seating Arrangement
by Janet Yung

The cat has laid claim to the newly assembled office chair, refusing to give an inch once she’s parked herself on its padded surface upon completion of her morning meal and toilet.

“Where am I supposed to sit?” Allen is standing in the doorway to the spare room carved out as his workplace. Sunshine is streaming through the window overlooking the backyard, the sill one of the cat’s favorite spots to snooze on chilly winter days, soaking up the warmth of the sun, waiting for the occasional squirrel to peek inside or bird to sail by, enroute to a branch on the ash tree. Favorite until the contents of the box were emptied and spread out on the floor, Allen reading the instructions and Ginger watching intently as the piece came to life.

“Well, you can’t move her,” Susan says, feeling smug while he ponders the dilemma. Allen, sensitive to Ginger’s needs, has had little sympathy with Susan when the cat has scrambled across the table in the middle of fixing dinner or munched on a fern as if the houseplant was there solely for her benefit, only to cough up bits of wholly swallowed fronds.

Quick to Ginger’s defense, Allen is always there to scoop up the calico, nuzzle her and point out the cat has overcome much adversity in her short life. Discovered abandoned along a major thoroughfare, undernourished and suffering from a severe case of ear mites, the couple brought her into their house and lives late one fall where she quickly made herself at home.

“But I need that chair,” Allen tells Susan while they watch Ginger do a couple of turns before finally settling in comfortably. “And, she has her bed.” The bed, purchased by Allen after Ginger’s brief stay in the animal hospital for minor surgery, sits forlornly in the corner, suffering from neglect.

“You could share the chair,” Susan suggests.

“I don’t think so,” Allen says with resolve and, walking softly towards the chair, picks  up Ginger. “Here, precious,” Allen deposits her gently on the bed’s thick cushion covered with faux fur and coos, “why don’t you sleep in your bed?”

It takes a fraction of a second for Ginger to realize she’s been usurped from her new, special place and before Allen can settle back into it, Ginger has reclaimed her spot.

“Now what?”  Allen is looking at the cat who goes through all the previous maneuvers in preparing for her nap. Before she gets too comfortable, Allen repeats the process of relocating Ginger. Squatting to take possession of his chair, the sound of claws sinking into upholstery heralds Ginger’s return as she scrambles up the back, plopping on the seat in unison with Allen.

“You could try again,” Susan offers and, for a second, Allen considers that possibility.

Ginger snuggles against the back as Allen teeters on the edge trying to adjust to the seating arrangement. “I give up,” he surrenders.

Patting him on the shoulder, Susan smiles, “Sharing is good.”