Sheba stood in the doorway and looked around the room. As soon as she had everyone’s attention, she made her entrance. Her steps were slow and graceful. She held her head high and her tail at a very proud angle with a very proud little curl at the end. When she sat, it was in a very lady-like way, with her tail curled around to cover her front paws. Her honey colored fur shone in the sunlight.
She knew she was special. A temple cat in Egypt spent her days being beautiful and pampered. Sheba liked her life very much.
She had only one concern—her son. Junior was all she could have wished for in a son. He was handsome and she never had to teach him anything twice. But, lately, he would leave the temple for days at a time. When he came back he seemed different. Unhappy. She had seen him with cats from the Jewish section.
Sheba knew that those Jewish people were causing trouble. One of them had come to the temple. He was different from the others she had seen. He didn’t come to do a slave’s work, but seemed to have some authority. He spoke in a big voice to the King, saying “Let my people go”. She didn’t know why, but he had turned a stick into a snake. Sheba jumped and ran behind a pillar to watch what he would do next. He made the river water turn to blood and back again. And there had been bugs—everywhere! The people who came to the temple these days were upset and they didn’t appreciate her the way they used to. Sometimes she had to reach up and pat them with her paw to get their attention.
As the sun went down she took her usual walk through the temple, making sure that everything was in order. She also checked the whereabouts of each of her children. As she came to each of them she rubbed her cheek against theirs and purred softly. Only Junior was no where to be found.
In the middle of the night Sheba heard terrible screaming. It came from every direction at once. As she walked around she saw several of the priests carrying their oldest child. The children were dead. Several of the priests were dead. As she walked further she found that even animals were dead. She began to search for her children. As she found each one safe she also saw more death.
As she thought about it, all of those dead that she knew had been born first in each family. Junior! He was her first born. Where was he? She became more and more afraid. She searched and searched. She looked everywhere. He wasn’t in the temple.
She paced back and forth on the temple porch. The sun was coming up. What should she do? Where should she go? She had never left the temple and had no idea what she would find outside or where to look for him. As she continued to pace back and forth she heard the crying of those who had lost their children. Where was her son?
She had seen the direction he came from when he returned. That was all she had to go on as she made her decision. She walked down the steps and out of the temple yard. She went in the direction she knew, stopping now and then to sniff the area for signs of Junior. As she followed her son’s trail, she saw more and more sadness. It made her move even faster.
Finally she came to a very different place. The houses weren’t really houses—at least not like the ones she had seen before. They were barely enough to keep the wind or rain out and there was blood on the door of each house. The people seemed different, too. They were peaceful. She saw no crying or sadness here. She continued her search, wondering.
Finally, in a doorway, she saw one of the cats that had been with her son. She ran to him, purring. He purred an answer and went back inside. In the corner of the small dark room sat her son, washing his face. She went to him and rubbed her cheek against his. She purred so loudly that it echoed through the little room.
She spent the rest of the day with that Jewish family. She watched them as they talked of the deaths and of God passing over their homes because they had obeyed Him. She watched as they began to pack the few things in the house.
Sheba didn’t understand it all, but she knew that these people were different. The Creator was here. She had never felt Him in the temple. She began to understand what Junior felt when he returned unhappy all those times. She found that she didn’t want to go back to the temple life either. She returned just long enough to collect her children.
When the parade of people left Egypt that day a beautiful honey colored cat and her family were part of the parade. Sheba made her choice. She stayed close to the Creator—the best life of all.
© 1995, Micki Parkinson