The bookseller smiled, or so Cinnabar thought as he paused while cleaning himself.
Through the window of the bookshop, another day's uncertainty passed with growing agitation, casting bright reflections or dark shadows within. Cinnabar sighed. He was rather tired of being the emotional draw for customers. Tired of being ogled and talked to in a baby voice. Tired of customers touching him while he was in deep meditation. Humans, he wondered, did they ever wash? How greasy and oily were their fingers. How unfortunate their habits. Nicotine, perfumes, hand lotions, food, all combined with the dust from all these old books was, at times, trying.
Cinnabar looked up at the bookseller whose glasses reflected the day. He sniffed. Things could be worse. Those cat shelters for instance. The utter horrors of the shared litter box. Those imbeciles putting their paws in his water dish as if they saw another cat reflected there. Idiots. Cinnabar scratched his side with his right foot. It could be worse. Like being a stray on the street, hungry, cold and vulnerable. There were stories of large-eyed bird creatures who could swoop down and carry you off. Or vicious humans who would toss you to see how you would land on your feet. Barbarians. It is a forest of fears out there.
He stretched ever so gently, extending his arms out before him in the sun's warmth. Or he could be suffering from ill-health. That's no catnip. The stories of kidney problems,pink eye, and worms were common around the cat shelter dinner dishes. Cinnabar sighed again. The bookseller looked down at him and winked with his right eye and after a pause, Cinnabar reciprocated with a calm slow movement of his eyelids. He remembered Jasper. Jasper, what a stupid name for a cat he thought. Really! Humans, what are they thinking? The bookseller had been buying books at a rich country house when the owners offered him Jasper. For free. Really, what was he thinking? Well, Jasper wasn't all he appeared to be. A slinky pure-bred who turned out to be so sickly that it cost the bookseller any profit he might have managed at that sale. Honestly.
He heard his mother's voice, "Cinnabar" she would say, "high or low, your health is all you have." Cinnabar raised himself and stretched deliciously, and as he sat looking up at the bookseller, he made a vow to rub up against a prospective customer at least once a week. After all, things weren't that bad. Hundreds of cats would give up their first mouse for such a position, and with that he wandered into the back room for his morning siesta.