I want a story with a mama cat named Jane, three kittens, a daddy named Bingley, and Crabapple. And the wind!
There once was a mama cat named Jane who had three kittens named Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail. The kittens’ daddy was named Bingley. They lived in Iowa.
Every day Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail would play in the backyard with their next door neighbor Crabapple. The four kittens would blow bubbles, run, jump on the jumping tire, swing, and make sand cakes.
One day while the kittens were playing Flopsy said, “I climbed the highest mountain!”
Mopsy replied, “I climbed the tallest tree!”
Cottontail said, “I climbed the biggest crane!”
Crabapple had never climbed anything at all. Embarrassed, she left for Mount Pleasant, where she caught a train heading east on its way to Chicago.
As the train crossed the Mississippi River, the Conductor came by and asked if she had ever been to Chicago. Crabapple said she hadn’t, and he replied, “Did you know the tallest building in the world is there?”
Crabapple shook her head.
“The Willis Tower! It’s right across the river from Union Station. If you go out on Jackson Street, you can’t miss it.”
When the train arrived in Chicago, that’s just what Crabapple did. On Jackson, she looked up. The Tower was the tallest building she had ever seen. If she squinted, she could just make out the top. Birds flying near the roof looked like dust motes in the sun.
Crabapple went inside to look for a way up. She found the stairs. One flight, two flights, three flights—she was alredy winded. How many stairs can there be? she wondered. Ten, twenty, thirty flights … sixty, seventy, eighty flights … one hundred flights later, Crabapple, exhausted, stepped out onto the Skydeck.
She gasped at what she saw. Chicago stretched out far as she could see to the north, west, and south. Nothing else came anywhere near as high as she was. To the east the bright blue waters of Lake Michigan sparkled in the sun. The white sails of sailboats on the water looked like small triangular ghosts.
Crabapple was excited. She had climbed all the way to the top of the world’s tallest building! She sat down in a chair to rest and enjoy the view of the city before she went down again. Then she overheard a guide talking to a group of tourists. “The Skydeck is located on the 103rd floor,” the guide said. “The Tower is officially 110 floors, and then there are the roof antennas, which rise another 300 feet.”
Crabapple knew that she had to get to the roof. She jumped up and began searching for stairs, an elevator, a ladder—anything that could get her higher. She looked all over the Skydeck. The stair she had come up went no higher. The buttons for the elevator only went down. There were no ladders. Crabapple’s last hope was a locked door off to the side of the elevator.
Where was the key? Frustrated, Crabapple sat down to think. As she did, the guide passed by. He was telling his group about the farthest sights a person could see from the Tower. She listened absently, then she heard the jingle of keys. A keychain was attached to the guide’s belt. Having no other ideas, Crabapple joined the group and pretended to listen. When the guide was pointing north toward Wisconsin, Crabapple grabbed the keys and ran. Before the guide even knew what had happened, she had the door open and had disappeared through it.
Crabapple was light on her feet as she climbed the last few flights of stairs. Through one more door at the top, she was on the roof of the Willis Tower.
The first thing she noticed on the roof was the wind. It was strong, nearly knocking her over. Then she saw the taller of the Tower’s antennas. She headed toward it, ready to climb to its the top.
She hadn’t noticed the pigeons. One stepped in front of her. “Not so fast, Cat,” it said. What are you doing here?”
A second pigeon interrupted her. “You shouldn’t have come.”
“I … I just want to climb the antenna,” Crabapple stammered.
“Too bad you won’t get to,” said a third pigeon. The others agreed. The pigeon motioned to the side of the building. “Your only way out is down.”
The pigeons began to crowd around her. Some pushed; others grab her fur in their beaks. Slowly but surely, they were pushing her to the edge. She had to think of something. In desperation, she said, “Did I just hear someone buy a bag of popcorn?”
In a rush of wings, the pigeons were over the edge of the roof and gone.
Crabapple lost no time in reaching the antenna. As she climbed, the wind whipped harder. One gust was so strong she almost lost her grip, but she dug in with her claws and held on. The roof of the Tower grew smaller, and the city streets became so many faint lines. She could just make out the pigeons making circles over the river.
Finally, Crabapple reached the top of the antenna. She looked out. She could see the curve of Lake Michigan east, the refineries and factories of Gary, Indiana. She turned around to look west.
A gust of wind hit Crabapple so hard and so suddenly it knocked her off her feet and she was suddenly falling in a great arc out, away from the antenna and the Tower, and down, down into the city below. Crabapple thought, This isn’t how I wanted to lose one of my lives! She shut her eyes; she couldn’t watch what was about to happen. The rush of air as she fell was so fast she couldn’t feel her whiskers. She kept falling. I hope it ends soon, she thought.
Crabapple felt like she had been falling for a long time, but she still hadn’t hit the street. Something was wrong, but what? She opened one eye, then both, wide: she wasn’t falling at all—she was flying!
Past Dekalb and the western suburbs of Chicago Crabapple flew, over cornfields and railroad tracks, highways and soybeans. West-traveling cars on the highways below were no match for her speed. Over Rochelle and Dixon she flew, and then her path turned southerly, following the Rock River. Soon on the horizon she saw a bright spark which gradually grew larger and longer, stretching as far as she could see in a long, wide ribbon: it was the Mississippi River. She crossed it, for the second time that day, over the Quad Cities.
In Iowa again, Crabapple slowly began to descend. When she sailed over the I-80 Truckstop she could see everything for miles; by the time she reached West Branch, she was barely higher than the trees. She worried she might have to walk a long way to get home, but soon enough she was in Iowa City again, landing on her street right in front of her house.
It had been a long day. Crabapple was hungry and very tired. But before she could go home to eat dinner think about everything that had happened, she had something to do.
Crabapple walked to Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail’s house. The kittens were playing in the backyard. Crabapple said “Hi,” hand she told them all she had something to say.
She paused. Then, speaking clearly so all the kittens could hear her, she said: “I climbed the tallest building.” With that, Crabapple went home and ate her dinner and never talked about her trip again.