Once up on a time there was a city, and in the city there was a park. It had trees and birds and flowers, park benches to sit on and a nice green lawn for picnics and near the entrance on the north side a man sold balloons from his little cart for just a quarter each. It might have been a lovely, ordinary park, if not for the cat.
The Scissor Cat, for thats what he was called, was large, rusty colored with big yellow eyes and a broad grin that might have been charming if it werent always seen in conjunction with a large pair of sharp, shiny shears gripped in one of his paws. It was for this that he was named, but it was for his hobby, or personal mission, perhaps, that he became known.
Every day the cat would appear out of a tree or bush, from the top of a fence or wall, brandishing his scissors and snip! a childs brand new balloon would be cast from its moorings and jump up through the air, through the trees, and away towards the bright blue heavens, leaving the mortified boy or girl screeching below.
The cat was indiscriminate. Red balloons, green balloons, yellow, blue pink, animal shaped, none were safe. Young children, old children, dark and light children and every shade between, beautiful children and funny looking ones; the Scissor Cat made no distinction. The general consensus was that he was just a mean, barmy old cat who liked to make children cry.
Any attempts made to capture or evict the cat failed utterly. There existed no evidence of his living in the park nor was he ever seen until suddenly he was there, scissors in paw and the balloon making its escape. Jumping into a tree or around a corner, he was gone again, leaving no trace behind but the screaming child holding a limp string.
The balloon man thought to baffle the scissor cat by putting little chains on his balloons instead of strings, but the next day the wily feline appeared with a pair of bolt cutters and away the balloon flew. The chains became bigger and the bolt cutters became bigger until the balloons wouldnt even float anymore and the children had trouble carrying them and he had to charge three dollars each just to pay for the chain. He gave up and went back to string. The children would just have to take their chances. The cat was there to stay.
One day a little girl was walking through the park with her new, beautiful balloon. She did not know about Scissor Cat and so she was startled when she turned to the nearby tree and found herself staring into a pair of slitted, yellow eyes. The silver scissors flashed Snip! And the string in her hand fell as the balloon sprung away.
She shaded her eyes and watched it for a long time until it was just a little speck of red in the blue sky. When she looked back the cat was still there, sitting easy on his branch, grinning.
Arent you going to cry? he inquired.
No, she replied carefully. Im not.
And why not?
Well, the girl said, considering, It was nice to have the balloon, but its nice to see it fly away into the sky, too.
Yes, the cat agreed. Yes, it is nice.
You cant see that unless you let the balloon go.
Thats true, replied the cat. But now the balloon is gone.
I might get another one sometime.
There will always be new balloons.
They watched each other a while, reflecting.
Well, goodbye, said the girl at last.
Goodbye, said the cat.
The girl walked down the sidewalk, slowly twining the bit of string around her finger. She looked back once to see the bright yellow eyes gazing out at her from between the leaves. With a blink and a flash of his silver scissors, the cat was gone. He was never seen again.