why is it, that you hate kits?…” always observed, hardly asked. Some cats liked kits, and any who don’t, tend to avoid them- right? Then there is me, Thistleback who openly despised the vermin.

" some things are unbearably apparent, some things mysteriously obscured. The eyes and ears of a child know nothing of such tedious detail " Thistleback tapers off the flaky skin of the pine stick he had plucked from Skyclan forests. He lays on his belly against the cool steel of a kittypet’s fence- across from him, a heavy-set ginger tabby with curious ears waiting. “ so- you don’t like kids…because they don’t understand things? ” the kittypet is looking down his nose quizzically at the daylight warrior, to which he draws a long sigh with an amused chuckle.

" I don’t hate children, I just never was one. Such is the fly to a bee- they have nothing to do with another " thistleback threads his words but the kittypet only looks more confused. “ everyone was a child once! , even you- strange cat ” the ginger tabby argues the logic, a reasonable response anyone with common sense could meow.

" that’s where you’re wrong " Thistleback draws out a claw and points to the kittypet’s chest with a tongue trailing across his lips and a smile peeking from his ghostly face. " everyone was young at once, but not everyone was a child " he rumbles out to which the kittypet shakes his head violently. “ when does this start making sense!?” he protests with a wide spread of his pink toes with exasperation spelled out on his plump face.

" it’s a long story till then- perhaps you’d rather get back to your upwalkers " Thistleback warns, obviously ready to carry on with his whimsical ways and perhaps traipse back to the forest where he kept his secrets in that tangled head of his. “I have time…” the kittypet tucks his yellow paw back under his fluffy chest and waits.


“ My name… is Tommie, well, at least that’s what the stray mums call me. They aren’t my real mums, my real mum is dead- so’s my father. I say that bluntly because to be dead is to be asleep forever, right?. Being tired is something I know well now, sometimes I hope I fall asleep forever.

I miss my sisters, but i’m starting to forget what they looked and sound like. My older sister, I didn’t know her well but I promise myself and Gooplie that I’d remember her fur and face. Black and spiky like mine, and green eyes. Who’s Gooplie? she’s my friend, my best friend. I found her cold and alone- soaked to the fluffy bones from the rain.

[ “ What an odd name, Gooplie… ” the kittypet interrupts, “ was she a stray kit found by the mums like you? ” Thistleback shakes his skull, " a stuffed toy- an upwalker made her… she was a brown and white tuft with six long legs, four eyes… like a sort of spider… at the time, she was about as big as I was- but I carried her everywhere " ]

Angie and Bitz they are sisters and orphans themselves, they had several kittens like me- we all had weird names and assigned sleeps, cardboard boxes lined the brick wall of the alley. Barely kept the rain out, definitely kept the cold in. Mum Angie often told us we should be thankful for a home, that they weren’t offered the same when they were young and abandoned like us. I always ignored her chatbacks, because I wasn’t like her- mum and father would never abandon me!

I begged mum Angie if I could keep Gooplie when I found her. I’d give her half my meals!, I promised. I kept my promise, but she was never hungry. You’re never going to get big, I told her- but Gooplie argued she’d grow too many legs if she kept eating. Silly fluff spider. I told her how I wished I’d get big, because I was too small and I kept getting hurt easy by the bigger kits.

I slept in the furthest corner of the box with Gooplie, there’s a small hole to peek out of- you can always see mum Bitz and Angie talking. They talk about big stuff- I can’t understand them, but they were always upset. Nothing ever made them happy, and they were always mean. Well, mum Angie was- she had a pug face and she never held me when I asked. I have nightmares, and she says they aren’t real. They are I swear!

they always made me nose to stones, when they caught me awake. That’s when you have to put your nose to the wall and stand there till sun-up. It hurts my paws but mum Bitz- she’s just a little nicer, she only makes me stand a few hours.

Gooplie said if she could stand and had a nose she’d do nose-to-stones for me. I said thank you, I have good manners and so does Gooplie.

Rhinnon is my new friend, he is really pretty looking. Angie found him on the side of the road, he was abandoned. The stray mums think they can find him a home really easy because the fleas haven’t got him and he has the purest white fur! I think so too, but I hope he gets to stay. He’s really nice to me and he has nightmare’s too.

Rhinnon is a curious kitten though and he almost got in trouble. When the mums brought back prey, he had accidentally eaten it in the sleeping box and got it all messy. “ I didn’t mean to ” he said, but I took the blame for it- because a swing from mum Angie’s paw would hurt Rhinnon, and I don’t want him to hurt. I took the swing, and it made my eyes sting with tears but I was getting tougher. I can tell because I got big calluses on my paws! Rhinnon says they are cool, that only big cats got them so I must be getting big. Gooplie likes Rhinnon to, she says he’s got pretty eyes, I agree.

A moon later and Gooplie said we should run away. Mum Angie was mean to me because no upwalkers want me. I asked her if it was because I was small, she said it was fleas. She said she had to drown the fleas so she grabbed me by the scruff and pushed me under the water. I was so scared, I accidentally clawed her. She hit my belly and it hurt bad, called me a rat and I think that hurt worse. She started putting Gooplie in a separate box at night and no matter how much I cried, mum Angie would only snarl in my face. “ the creature must be caged at night ”! a new rule to follow. A new rule among too many.

I learned quicker not to make the mums mad anymore, but Gooplie says it’s no good. They don’t love you like I do, she says. I agree. So I told Rhinnon, that me and him should run away. Gooplie would take care of us.

So we left, and after two days of walking. Gooplie was heavy, and Rhinnon carried her a little to. She kept him warm at night, but without mum Angie catching prey- our tummies hurt. So I followed my nose to a upwalker home- and I did something bad. Really bad but Rhinnon wasn’t feeling good. I stole a kittypet’s food, and we felt much better. I did a bunch of that- stealing. I’m too little to catch a prey though. One day I will big enough, and I’ll catch Goopie and Rhi the biggest mouse in the forest. Their tummies would never hurt again!


“ you can’t just end it there! ” the kittypet was bristling but not in anger, they were on the edge of the fence with pure intrigue spearing Thistleback in the form of two walnut brown eyes . " It’s my story to tell, I may end it where I like " The daylight warrior chisels another piece of bark from the stick with a delicate but razor claw. “ But- where’s Rhinnon… where’s Gooplie?… what ever happened to the other kittens under the Mums?…. ” The tabby fires off reasonable questions but Thistleback shrugs.

" Dead, misplaced, rehomed, and probably dead " he tips his head to and fro listing off musically. " Rhinnon found a home " that answer, made the concern wilt a bit from the tabby’s face. “ oh that’s good… oh but you were left alone? ” they ask, Thistleback nods and it waggles his nicked ears. " He deserved a home. He never changed, he was sweet and always offering kindness where it didn’t belong. " Thistleback’s eyes seemed to travel away from the stick he was toying with idly. " but in the end, that same home- smothered him, quite literally… they killed him " The warrior’s words make the kittypet flinch so hard the bell on his collar chimes.

“ twolegs would never! ” they exclaim- " yes but twoleg negligence did " Thistleback growls, and it vibrates the fence under him. " He died- slowly- painfully. Alone. Buried in the dirt with only ME to tell his story. And what story to tell? " Thistleback’s narrowed pupils pull back to the listener. " A dead stray tells no tales- even if he dies a kittypet " Thistleback chuckles darkly but it’s humorless and cold.

" You see, I don’t hate children. I pity them in a way- Their purity is smothered, by one way or another. I think it should be quick. The odds of survival are greater. " he speaks from the soul but did this fat tabby understand?

" I never got to be a child, I learned how to breath with broken ribs- discipline, survival, and hate. I had a childish brain but it was chewing adult problems- it built me and destroyed what it was to be a kid. I wasn’t smothered, I was starving and alone. When Rhinnon found a home, I started to think I had hallucinated him. Why not?. Gooplie had a voice just as clear as yours to me. Was it so farfetched to have childishly fabricated Rhinnon? " Thistleback looks like a starved animal, crazed as he spoke with wide eyes but they go slack and he smiles as he sees the confusion masked over the tabby’s face as he tries to understand.

Understand what cannot be understood. What had no reason to be comprehended- what just is. Thistleback is reminded of why he kept these things to himself. Why the creature must be caged at night.

“ what about Gooplie? ” the kittypet looks startled but pensive. " she is me. Always was. I took care of Rhinnon and I. I’m the only one I had. Only was I too young to understand she was me and I was her… only I was too young to understand it was I who was caged at night. " his barbed tongue tickles the edge of his sharp teeth.

" the story continues, and I continue to learn… the memories however- are as faded as the emotion I once felt in them. Now- I feel numb. vengeful, but that’s like thirst in a world of no water. " Thistleback himself looks pensive for a moment.

" I should return to Skyclan, there are- things to do " Thistleback removes himself mentally and emotionally as easily as one could flatten a dry leaf. “ b-bu… h-… I’m as confused as I was before your story! with only more questions! ” the tabby is on his paws as if demanding answers. " what makes you think I have the answers? " Thistleback cackles again and disappears into the thicket.