Linlin couldn’t wait for the fireworks to start. While her parents
watched the New Year’s special on TV, Linlin sat by the window, never
taking her eyes off the sky.
A loud wail cut through the cool night air. She didn’t know they made
firecrackers that sounded like alarm clocks, and she looked around to
find out what part of the city had already started celebrating. The
sky was still dark. It was as if the whole city was holding its
The ringing continued. She looked down and was surprised to find a cat
nestled against a big alarm clock that was ringing so hard it
The cat was fast asleep.
It was not every day that she saw a stray cat on her balcony (they
were on the 15th floor, after all) and this was certainly the only cat
she’d ever seen with an alarm clock. She shook the cat gently. “Excuse
me, Mr. Cat, wake up, wake up…”
The cat yawned and mumbled, “Just a few more minutes, Mouse…”
It then turned over and went back to sleep.
A talking cat! She talked to animals all the time, but this was the
first time one talked to her! New Year’s Eve was really magical. She
wanted the cat to wake up and talk to her.
Linlin had a great idea. She went to the kitchen and got some cat
food. She didn’t think her cat Yumyum would be angry if she gave the
strange cat something to eat. After opening the can, she went back the
balcony and waved it near the cat. “Wake up, wake up, I’ve got food
A lazy eye creaked open. The cat’s nose twitched and dove into the
food, followed by the rest of the cat as it slowly woke up.
After finishing the tuna, the cat sat back and licked its paws.
“You’re not Mouse,” the cat said.
“No, I’m Linlin. Pleased to meet you.”
“Thank you, Linlin. I’m Cat. If you hadn’t woken me up, I would have
been late for an important New Year’s party. Hey, would you like to
come? I think the Jade Emperor would be happy to see you.”
“Jade Emperor? Party?” Something clicked in her head. “Who else is going?”
“Don’t worry, it’s just the usual gang: Rooster, Ox, Goat, and lots of
other people… Even Dragon is taking time out from his busy
The animals from the calendar! Her teacher had told that story on the
last day of class. Cat and Mouse used to be great friends, he said,
but then Mouse tricked Cat by not waking him up even though Mouse
promised. That’s why the Cat isn’t part of the Chinese zodiac,
the animals that protect each year.
Maybe this year Cat could make it!
Cat flicked his tail impatiently. “So, would you like to come?”
She really loved fireworks, but how many times did she get to go with
a talking cat to a party? “Let me ask permission first.” She turned
toward the living room and shouted, “Mom, Dad, can I go with Cat to
the Jade Emperor’s New Year’s Party?”
Without looking away from the television set, they said, “Sure, have fun.”
She grinned and turned back to the cat. “Let’s go!” Cat held his paw
out to her. When she took it, she found herself in front of an
elaborate palace. She was shy, but Cat urged her along and introduced
her to the whole gang. They feasted for what seemed like hours and
Linlin made many friends.
When she got back, she was surprised to find out it was still night.
She looked at the alarm clock on the balcony. It was just a minute to
midnight! As Cat bowed and waved goodbye, the sky exploded into
“Wait! Your alarm clock!” She scooped the clock up and held it out to
“Keep it to remember me.” Cat smiled and disappeared.
As the second hand on the alarm clock hit 12, she grinned to herself.
No one would believe her if she told them where she was last night!
(Written in response to the “Last Night” prompt on flashxer)