She sat quietly under the table. Her mother and the 3 other female canasta players eventually forgot she was there. She held her breath as long as she could each time, in case they should suddenly glance to see if the children were about. Holding the table leg that was unencumbered by knees and hand bags she followed the curved line to the claw foot. Above, the voices droned on about local gossip interjected by canasta “calls” and she let her mind wander into imagination, into the lion’s cage, no, into the jungle where she lived within the protective warmth of a lion clan. She nuzzled the lion mother and felt safe at last. The purring of many cats filled her head and let her be… without thought, without worry, without words.
“There you are! Oh dear, the child has been under the table this whole time.”
She is pulled out by her arm and made to stand on her two human feet in the full glaring light of amused and reproachful human eyes. The busy chatter of women worried about what they revealed during the last hour catches the wind and seems to float out the window into the streets of Buenos Aires… or New York, or Kansas City.
She hops away to play in her room. Hopping is what is expected of a 4 year old. They will not think twice about her. Their voices return to a rhythm that has forgotten her. She would mull over what she heard and not understood. How did she know she was not supposed to hear certain things?