I was walking downstairs with a basket of laundry in my hands, headed for the basement laundry room in my apartment complex, when I happened to glance out through the glass-paned front door. Sitting on the sidewalk, looking at me with what seemed an intent glare, was a small, pale cat.
I stopped. When something is paying attention to you, it draws your attention. When that something is attractive, as most cats are, it tends to draw your attention more surely. At least it draws mine. I stopped, put down the laundry basket, and looked back at the cat.
It was simply sitting in the middle of the sidewalk leading up to the front door, gazing out of the darkness of the evening into the light of the foyer in which I was standing. It looked right into my eyes, seemingly unafraid. When I turned to face the cat, its head dipped, just slightly, in a way that suggested to me that the cat was considering moving closer. Was it hungry? Thirsty? Simply curious what would be inside this brightly-lit foyer? I thought about letting the cat in, getting it a bowl of water (I don't generally keep milk).
I took a step toward the door, and the cat reacted. Not to move forward, but to step to the side. Now, suddenly, it was wary and cautious. I paused, but my own thoughts had overridden any conception of what the cat might be thinking, and after a moment I continued toward the door, reaching out and turning the knob.
The cat began trotting off to one side of the building as I opened the door - not coming closer to the door, but moving quickly and deliberately away. There was a look on its face that almost spoke, as if to say, "Are you crazy? Thinking I'm going to let myself get stuck in there? Bye!"
After another moment, it was gone.
I stood there, holding the door open, thinking that perhaps the cat might return. I looked out at the space where the cat had last been before vanishing out of sight around the corner of the building and hoped. Then it dawned on me, as it has dawned on me before in situations not altogether unlike this one, that the cat was gone, and all I was doing was holding open my apartment foyer's front door like an idiot.
I shut the door, and went on with my life.