The Odyssey & Opus of a Wandering Artist
— a travel journal by Sarah Mari North —

  • Sarah Mari North

Pantalimon: Carpet Shark

Escape is like a game to me. Every time I figure it out, Mom makes it harder. I love puzzles.

Sometimes I don’t figure it out, and so I'll poop just outside the litter box to let Mom know she won. I nibble on some kibble (leaving some crumbs for the dog), knock over the water bowl, then find myself a nice hiding spot to snooze. Come bedtime, Mom puts my sister Oda and I back in our cage, and tidies up the floor. Come morning, the game begins anew.

I used to be skinny like Oda, back when I was a runt and nothing but a skeleton, alone in a box on the side of the road on a dark and stormy night… (I’ll pause here so you can say, “Aww.”) Then Mom rescued me and fattened me up into the fattest female ferret you have ever seen.

Well, Oda is not quite as skinny as I once was, but she is light enough to climb up the clothes in the closet and get herself stuck on the top shelf. I have to carry around all this warm blubber, you see. Oda climbs. I dig. Give me a sandbox and I will dig dig dig dig dig dig dig

Carpet is less forgiving.

You probably need context.

You see, when I see a Door, I don’t care if it leads inside or outside or into the shower, I must get through. It's like my life depends on seeing what's in that next room. The Bedroom Door is the worst of the lot. One day, though, I swear I will make some progress: One fuzzy strand of yarn at a time. One day I will complete my infamous Shawshank tunnel and escape…until I come to the next Door, of course.

Let it be this day. I lance my nails into the carpet, and begin scratching.

The Bedroom Door opens with a whine.

“Come on, Pantalimon!” Mom calls.

“Well, fine,” I say, “You just saved me a lot of trouble.”

Before Mom changes her mind, I race down the hall, dooking sillily. Carpet turns to tile and my feet slide out from beneath me. I fall flat on my stomach and chin like a pancake. I bounce back up and dook dook left and right until I find another Door. I sniff at the crack between the door and the floor. Dust leaps into my nose and I sneeze. And sneeze and sneeze and sneeze. A whole body involuntary twist and sneeze! Once that excitement is over, I refocus on my task and begin digging. The tile is smooth like ice, and I make no progress.

Mom stares down at me and folds her arms. I stand on my back legs like the good fat girl I am and stare at her, waiting.

“So you going to get the door or what?” my face says.

Mom picks me up and attaches the purple harness with the annoying ding ding cat bell. The ding ding ding at which same time I love love love, because it means we get to go outside. Mom opens the Door and carries me into a strange room of brisk silent whiteness. I sniff the air. It smells… clean? Hm. I’ve never been in this room before! I must explore.

Wiggle wiggle wiggle, I squirm in her arms.

“Let me down, let me down, let me—”

Mom sets me down. I sink to my eyeballs in white carpet. Wet…cold…white carpet?

Um… Mom…


"It's your first snow, Pan! What do you think?"

I scratch scratch scratch at Mom’s leg. I wish I didn’t have all this blubber. If not to keep me warm then what is it good for? (Absolutely nothing!) My butt bounces as I try to escape the freezing white stuff. Oh, how I wish I was skinny like Oda so I can climb up up up into Mom’s armpit like a whittle baby kit! (“Aww.”)

Please let me back inside where it is warm and dry! I promise I’ll never scratch at the carpet ever again, Mom, honest!" (Until I "forget," of course.)

For the winter snows will melt, and spring with come again, and the Door will be waiting… once again.

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