Monika stared out of the window. The bright light from inside made it practically impossible to make out any distinguishing features in the dark outside. She was close enough to the glass that her breath created a circle of fog every time she breathed. Small pearls of water would form from it and slowly make their way down onto the windowsill. Monika sniffled and then sneezed.
Her nose and cheeks were burning red. It was quite cold outside around this time of year and to combat that she wore a thickly-knit sweater that was quite obviously intended for a man twice her size. Monika liked oversized sweaters though– it seemed like the perfect marriage between clothing and a blanket to her. As she continued to stare outside at nothing in particular she blindly reached for her cup of hot chocolate and took a long, loud sip from it. The hot brew warmed her nicely from the inside.
Suddenly she heard a faint tapping sound. After a few seconds of silence, another followed. Gradually the tapping increased more and more until finally it faded into constant rattling as hundreds of raindrops hammered against the window. A faint cold now emanated from the window and it rendered the rising steam from her cup and breath visible. The steam floated towards her and seemed to brush faintly against her cheeks. Monika had to sneeze again.
Having experienced all the window had to offer for now, Monika grabbed her mug and shuffled back onto the couch in the middle of the room. She lay onto it sideways and fashioned herself a poncho using the blanket that she had thrown onto the floor previously. Now all she had to do was wait for the warmth to build up while sniffling plenty.
It didn't take long until a level of warmth and comfort was achieved that seemed unprecedented. Monika wondered how anyone could deny that cold Winter days like these were by far the best thing anyone could ask for. Feeling the cold on her face while simultaneously being warmed up by a multitude of clothing layers and a belly filled with hot chocolate ranked pretty high up on her list of feelings that she loved the most. She shuffled a little and sank deeper down into the couch with a sigh. Ah! This was something worth living for!
For a while Monika closed her eyes and didn't think about anything in particular. She just enjoyed the bliss of this perfect arrangement that she had carefully crafted for herself. The faint rattling of the rain hitting the window provided a soothing background noise that slowly lulled her to sleep. Monika nodded off.
In her dream she sat on a familiar patch of grass underneath a large oak tree. Everything was tinted in a warm, welcoming yellow light. The leaves and grass blades moved gently in the wind, but everything was perfectly silent. The hill she was on overlooked a seemingly endless field of grass with some trees speckled here and there. Monika had been here many times before. This dream had been accompanying her for about a decade now.
While this dream seems welcoming and happy at first, it can also be the opposite. It can feel repressing, heavy. Silence has a way of doing that to you. It is also a world that can feel distant and uncaring– unchanging. Monika's presence here was of no significance to it; there was nothing she could do to change it in any way. At the time, Monika didn't know why she kept on returning on this world.
However, her stay in this strange dream world was cut short. She was awakened by a heavy object landing in her lap. A tiger had claimed its territory on top of her. It kneaded with its paws and purred wildly. Monika petted Marlowe on its head. The purring was now loud enough to completely drown out the rain from outside. Monika smiled and urged Marlowe to sit down. His claws had come dangerously close to piercing her skin despite the many layers of cloth between them and Monika was not intending on leaving the couch to patch herself up.
After some resistance, Marlowe finally caved in and curled up into a ball of fur. Monika sniffled again and wondered how Marlowe would look in a poncho. Her cat, that is– not the literary figure. The thought amused her somewhat and she decided that she would try to draw it later. Maybe there was even a story to be made of that. A Western but with cats, or something along those lines. She then proceeded to imagine different cats with a variety of clothes on. The images she conjured up were amusing enough to make her giggle.
The cats in clothes managed to entertain her for about half an hour before she got sleepy again. Marlowe was fast asleep on her lap by now. Monika gave in to the comfort and closed her eyes again. Soon the both of them had wandered off to the land of dreams.
The oak tree did not visit her again this time around and she managed to sleep all the way into the morning, dreaming of cats and cold winter days.
Written by shinmera