Her cats supported her with all the tender love an care she could ask for. She did her best to love them all equally. She would never tell Princess Butter Biscuit that she may never reach her dream of being hairdresser on account of not having thumbs, so Denise let her do her hair. Why would she ever leave anyway? Whenever El Capitan picked on Nunu, she would be there to break up the fight and comfort the combatants. Every month at the cat town meeting, they elected her “Human of the Month” for the past twenty-five months running. She had a long streak going before that, but a storm blew a branch from a tree in the backyard down giving access to a before unreachable tree. Denise calmly tried explaining that branches cannot win “Human of the Month” because they are not human. The cat representatives called her logic campaigning and jealousy. Regardless, Denise’s homemade treats made sure she won the award the next month. She did.
It was hard to say when Denise started hearing animals talk because she had always done it as long as she could talk. She didn’t know it was weird until she started learning curse words from the dog. Her parents were appalled by this and blamed television. She tried telling them that Sneakers was something called a ‘self declared white supremacist’ and they got her classified in school. Denise never much liked dogs after that.
School was dreadful. The other kids weren’t nice. They made fun of her glasses and when she used to feed the pigeons at lunch and talk to them, even though they were so interesting and so nice. Paul and Georgette were a nice Jewish couple from New York that had been living on the school grounds for years. They could tell you more about the comings and goings here than any teacher, principal, or janitor dreamed of. They gave her pills to make school easier, but they made her head feel like it was full of cotton and it made her stop hearing the animals when they spoke. She quickly learned how to tongue pills and she stopped taking them.
One day during lunch with the pigeon couple, Paul let it slip about the body in the woods.
“Paul,” Georgette snapped. “Denise is a sweet, young girl. You have no business telling her about all that mess.”
“Now, Georgette,” said Paul. “She has the right to know. The kids are playing around it all the time.”
They explained that a boy was kidnapped many years ago and accidentally killed by the man who took him. In a rush, the man buried the boy in the school yard and ran away. Denise was deeply disturbed by this story and not sure what to do with the information. So was the lunch aid, and so was the principal, and so were her parents. At first she was suspended for the rest of the week and told she had to stay home from school. Denise was actually quite excited that she wouldn’t have to go to school and she wondered if she could do it all the time. That was until the cops showed up at the door of Denise’s house. She cried for hours because she thought she was going to jail.
However, it turns out that her story matched something they had been looking for for a long time. The police wanted Denise to show them where the body was. She pointed out a spot in the brush behind the monkey bars, and they led her away. She wasn’t allowed to see, but they found the boy. Her parents and the principals and the police all asked her over and over again how she knew the body was there.
“Paul and Georgette told me,” she would answer perfectly honestly.
“Who are Paul and Georgette?” they would ask.
“The pigeons who live in the gutter behind the cafeteria!” she would say over and over again, but they couldn’t seem to understand.
When news reporters started coming to the house, her parents thought they should move. Denise was excited to find out that she didn’t have to go to school anymore. She would be homeschooled and she learned a lot quicker from that.
In their new house, police would occasionally come to the door and her father would yell at them. She wasn’t used to people talking to police like that, but the officers always seemed sad. When she would ask, “Daddy, why do those men keep coming to the door asking for me?”
“No reason sweetheart,” he would say, still gritting his teeth from yelling at the cops. “They think you’re someone that you’re not. But you’re a perfectly normal little girl. You’re just like everyone else.” That’s usually when he would start drinking.
But children grow up fast, and Denise quickly realized she was not a ‘perfectly normal little girl’ anymore than dolphins were fish. She occasionally made ventures into acquiring friends (especially when it came time to be interested in boys), but it turns out people don’t take kindly to you having full conversations with their house pet. One time when she was alone with a boy, she told him that the mice in his walls giggled and made fun of him. She couldn’t understand why he stopped answering his phone. Maybe he moved away.
As she grew up, it became apparent why she wasn’t normal. And that was okay. She had plenty of friends everywhere she went. Most animals were delighted to talk about humans. They have a lot of opinions about how we live and they’re very eager to share them. The squirrels on the street and the birds were on the powerlines were buzzing with conversation. Cats seemed to come from everywhere and had stories of their travels, and wherever you walked, a dog was surely walking there too, overjoyed to introduce themselves. Eventually, when her parents moved to a retirement village, she lived on her own.
The story of the ‘psychic girl’ who had solved a murder mystery had faded into obscurity over time. But that didn’t stop the animals from telling her things. This rat saw the face of the man who robbed a bank. These spiders watched drug dealers cook. The animals knew where people were hiding and how to find them. Eventually the burden of the knowledge became too much for Denise and she began calling in these reports. She was commended for her accuracy, but she would never give her name. She had been known in the local paper as the famous psychic named “The Third Eye of Arkham”. She was defamed by experts, but her results were undeniable.