Chapter 5: Prudence and Sybil

The next thing Ellowyne knew, she and Midge were at the Academy back in Ello’s freshman year. The bell rang and the halls filled with teenagers scurrying to their lockers so they could get to the next class on time. “Oh, look! There’s Pru!” Ellowyne exclaimed. Although Midge kept some distance between herself and Prudence, Ellowyne floated through the throng off students to get a closer look.

Midge’s blue eyes widened and she gasped. Ellowyne, who heard Midge, gawked in disbelief. Prudence, who had always been known for her eclectic style, looked even—funkier—than when Ellowyne knew her. Ello and Midge then heard someone shout,

“Hey, weirdo!” as Pru was shoved into her locker. Ello was shocked. Several of the teenagers in the hallway made fun of Prudence while others stood by and laughed.

Ellowyne then spied a familiar face. “There’s Rufus. He’ll stand up for Pru.” But the lanky teenager seemed not to notice the commotion and he continued to hurry to class.

“Ello, they never knew each other. They never met and they never became friends. Rufus had his own crowd while Pru, well, she had nobody”

Ellowyne closed her eyes momentarily and when she opened them, she found herself and Midge hovering above Prudence the day she found a stray cat caught in a fence. Pru freed the scruffy black and grey cat, who hissed and scratched her in return for her assistance.

“Well, aren’t you a cranky kitty?” Pru sighed. “No wonder someone dumped you. I’m not the happiest person in the world, so maybe we’ll get along just fine. I’ll take you to the vet to make sure you don’t have rabies or something. And I think I’ll name you Sybil. That seems to suit a psycho kitty like you.”

Suddenly, Ellowyne and Midge were back in the musty storage room, but this time they had a laptop computer. Midge seemed to be frustrated. “We didn’t have this kind of technology when I was your age,” she grumbled. “I’m looking for something about cats who eat cheeseburgers and all I can find is gossip about a bunch of people named Kardashian.”

Ellowyne took the computer and quickly found one of the most popular humor sites on the Internet. Together, she and Midge looked through the pictures until Midge finally found the meme she wanted Ello to see. “Does this look like anyone you know?”
Ellowyne’s eyes widened because she recognized Sybil! She read the caption:

“‘Psycho Kitty is in your Christmas tree and’—-oh my!,” Even more surprising, the creator of the rather vulgar meme was none other than P. Moody!

“And that’s how it all began,” Midge murmured.

In a blink, Ello and Midge were transported to 2017, the height of the Psycho Kitty craze. Midge made Ellowyne get online because she had no conception of personal computers. Every website seemed to have a Psycho Kitty meme. Psycho Kitty appeared on political sites, social media, and YouTube. Her face appeared on Psycho Kitty T-shirts, coffee mugs, calendars, and refrigerator magnets. Children and adult collectors clamored for Psycho Kitty beanbag toys. Psycho Kitty appeared on talk shows, in cat food commercials, and even her own Christmas special. Midge then drew Ello’s attention to an article posted on a news site. The headline read: “Psycho Kitty’s Psycho Owner Won’t Allow Cat to Appear for Charity”.

Puzzled, Ellowyne continued to read the article, which included several accounts of Prudence refusing to allow Sybil to appear at fundraising events for animal shelters. Ellowyne scowled; that doesn’t sound like the Prudence she knew. Why, Pru volunteered at shelters and often tried to convince her friends to adopt just one more cat or dog.

Ellowyne clicked on a link to a video of Prudence defending her decision not to participate in the animal welfare fundraiser. “Hey, if I do one freebie benefit, pretty soon every shelter in this country will want a piece of Psycho Kitty. Sybil is a star. She doesn’t get out of her cat bed for less than $10,000 a day. Sheesh!”

Ellowyne looked confused. “This isn’t the Pru that I knew.”

“Of course she isn’t. Prudence is completely different without having had you in her life. She was bullied through all of middle school and high school, even into college. She became angry and resentful and eventually dropped out of college. Instead of doing fun things with other people like line dancing or karaoke, she moved into her mother’s basement and spent nearly all her time on the computer. Once she created the Psycho Kitty memes, she found the acceptance she’d always wanted. But then she was wary of people wanting to befriend her, because she feared they were simply after her money or fame. Without you, she became cynical, bitter, and selfish. She became obsessed with making money and never did find any real friends.”

“I can’t believe this,” Ellowyne asserted. “Pru didn’t care about money. She cared about her friends and family and people everywhere—-and animals, too. I simply cannot conceive of Prudence as a nasty, horrible person.”

Midge shrugged. “Would you believe me if I told you that fame and fortune did not change Sybil? She remained cantankerous—nasty and horrible if you prefer—for the rest of her life.”Sybil? She remained cantankerous—nasty and horrible if you prefer—for the rest of her life.”

That was indeed something Ellowyne could easily believe.

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