This is a piece I wrote back when I was in college for a storytelling class. The assignment was to take a story and tell your own version of it. If you’re unfamiliar with the original folk story, you can read a brief version of it here.
Here’s my retelling:
Aphrodite and the Cat
Once, there was a very sick girl living in a small room with her husband and her cat. They were very poor, and the girl was stricken with an incurable, but not deadly, disease. Her little cat loved her so very much. He would come sit on her lap or cuddle up to her side whenever he could tell she was feeling particularly bad.
Her husband never seemed to be at home, and it broke the cat’s heart to see her crying and in pain all alone. “What sort of husband is he?!” The cat asked. “How can he leave her alone all the time? He must not care about her at all.”
The cat tried his best to take care of her, but he just didn’t know how. He nuzzled her face and purred for her, and he always made her smile – but that was about all he could do.
“If only I were a human!” The cat lamented. “Then I could take care of her.”
That night, the cat stared at the moon and prayed “Oh please, moon, please turn me into a human so I can take care of the girl I love.”
The moon answered him: “You are only a cat. What makes you think you could be a good husband to this girl?”
“Because I love her!” retaliated the cat. “Much more than her real mate, who leaves her alone every day.”
“Perhaps you do not understand fully what humans do for eachother.”
“Of course I do! I watch them all day every day! My girl needs help, please!”
So, with some reluctance, the moon turned the cat into the likeness of the girl’s husband.
The cat, now looking like his girl’s mate, ran straight to her bedside. The girl was very surprised. “What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I’ve come home to take care of you!” said the cat, whom she believed to be her husband.
At first, the girl was somewhat happy, but as time went on, she became distressed. She began to ask about money and work, of which the cat knew nothing about. And while the cat was very kind to her, and cooked for her and stroked her hair, she was still not getting any better. One day, she found her pill bottle empty. She told the cat she needed more medicine. Now the cat was really in a pickle! He didn’t have any money for medicine, much less any knowledge that he would need money at all. Not wanting to admit his ignorance, the cat stammered and babbled, trying to find some words of comfort…
Suddenly, the cat spotted a mouse outside the window. He excitedly darted away from her bedside mid-sentence, gleefully chasing the mouse. The moon saw this, and caused the girl to fall asleep. The moon turned the cat back into his true form. “You are no better for her as a human than you were as a cat!” The moon cried.
The cat looked over its shoulder and saw the girl’s real husband come through the door, weary from a long day’s work. He set a new bottle of medicine on her nightstand, and gently woke her. He kissed her cheek, and she muttered something about having the strangest dream…
The cat went to them and nuzzled the husband’s leg, purring. Now he understood the husband’s true love for his wife, and accepted that all he could be to her was a cat.