Hasti sat next to the boy, his head at almost exactly the same height as the that of the standing human. He sat close, but not too close, knowing each and every nuance of the boy’s movement, breathing, and even facial expression. The cat could not see behind himself but he could see back to a substantially unlikely degree without moving his eyes. He saw the boy reach out behind him, the human’s hand and arm moving slowly and naturally. The cat thought nothing of the gesture until the boy’s hand contacted the top of his head. It took all of the cat’s control not to move, and even more not to whip around and bite the offending appendage. The boy’s hand gently stroked the fur between the cat’s ears, while the cat sat and tried to come to terms with the contact. He flicked his ears, hoping to send a message of personal violation and indignity. Not a violation reaching the level of a violent response, but a violation nevertheless. What was to be done? The cat tried to think of the new experience but had no reference for it. The boy’s hand dropped down and pulled away. The cat felt a strange sense of loss, along with some measure of relief.
The cat and the boy stood nearby the cooking fire, in wait. The fish, filets laid flat on the surface of flat pieces of tree trunk, sizzled and bubbled. The two women handling the fire, and the fish boards, did so with great dexterity and subtle movements. They used strange implements. Sticks tied in a flat array to lift the fish filets, sharpened wood pieces to cut the soft flesh and a long thin spear tip to poke the coals or to snag the meat and move it around atop the flat pieces of wood.