How did he get in? The same way he got out, I guess. Slowly, really feeling borderline silly, I got down on all fours and crawled to the cat door. My legs felt heavy and cold and as the circulation started to work again were starting to tingle. I ignored them and bent my face down to the cat door as if I was a cat. Of course I knew that I wouldn’t fit through the small opening, just wide enough for Plinius, not even, after some adjustments, wide enough for the neighborhood raccoon who, attracted by Plinius cat food bowl, had twice raided the kitchen. I felt cold night air on my hand pushing up the slot and then on my face. I pushed closer to the opening and peeked out.
I felt like Alice in Wonderland after she had tumbled down the rabbit hole. I could see Plinius’ world bright and clear. Too bright actually. There was daylight out there, in front of my kitchen door, bright sun light reflected off the silver ripples of the lake. Plinius sat, back to me, at the shore, and washed his coat thoroughly with his cat tongue as if to cleanse himself of my human touch. I knew the lake by the characteristic shape of the mountains that surrounded it. The place existed. Only it was not in my backyard where I had, only moments before, watched Plinius through the doorglass as he was diving into the night. The lake glaring in the sunlight was far up in Vermont, Lake Willoughby, a deep glacial body of water wedged between two mountains with biblical names where my mother, Phoebe and I had spent our summer. I had not the first idea why I would see it through the cat door.
Plinius seemed to think nothing of it, and he just continued to lick his lower back, proceeding systematically to the tail. He paid no attention to me and would not have either if he had cleaned himself on the kitchen rug behind me. I turned back for a reality check, back to see the night kitchen in my own house, closing the cat door gently as if to protect the night in my house from that other wordly daylight. Or the daylight out there from the night leaking out of a cat door in my world. Because in my spacetime it was still night, my kitchen was still dark except for the weak glow of the night light.
Out there where Plinius roamed, it was not only bright day but an entirely different geographical place altogether. Not New Humble Jersey. I pressed my face again the cat door again. Plinius had taken advantage of my distraction and had removed himself from the scene. It was dark out there, the smooth, velveteen darkness of our own backyard. In the distance over the black leaved silhouettes of the tree tops I could see a star. My own backyard and starlight traveling over a distance of 430 light years.