Thursday, January 19, 2012

GrayC's Story

Fall of 2005, the 21-year-old college student, is gladly looking forward to a trip home for Columbus Day weekend.  A combination of frat parties and skipping classes had led to the departure of her boyfriend and left her living in this North Country town without him for the first time since freshman year.  They had dated through high school and the young woman found being away from home without him would seem impossible if it weren't for her Type-A personality pushing her through just one more year.

Fall of 2005, the gray, tiger-striped kitten, crawls beneath slate tiles stacked in a barn.  The barn stood open to a country road.  The country road that the kitten's mother had been dropped on when her owner discovered her bulging belly.  This barn had been her safe haven and the only home the kitten had known in her short life.  The kitten could see her mother across the dirt floor, behind a child's bicycle.  She wanted to run to her, but the thick-headed tabby lay between them.  His tail twitching in disgust at the number of felines that now inhabited his shelter.

The young woman was glad to be home.  Her bag was resting near the stairs that led to her childhood bedroom.  Her shoes sat by the door that opened to a country road she knew well.  A road that held memories of reaching the high steps of the school bus, learning to ride a bike, and driving her first car.  She could hear her dad calling out to her from the porch to meet him in the barn a few steps from their home.  As she made her way toward the door, sliding on rubber-soled slippers, the girl's mom told her about the kitten her dad wanted her to see.  A barn cat had taken the kitten's siblings and left the smallest one behind.

It had been three days since the little, gray kitten had been comforted by the familiar scent of her mother.  Three days since one of her siblings, a larger version of herself, had pounced and flipped her on her back.  When exactly they had left, she wasn't aware.  She surely would have followed along, if only she had known.  Was it while she rested on the hay used years ago by a brown horse with a raven mane?  Was it while she eyed the last quick flies of fall, before winter left the pests droopy?  She missed the sweet milk of her mother.  The solid, orange bits left by the stomping boots were tough to chew and left her feeling ill.

The young woman's first glimpse of the kitten was truly only a glimpse.  The frightened gray baby darted here and there until she had found refuge behind a pile of crates used for campfires and now, camoflauge.  The mean tabby had, for the moment, turned sweet, while twisting between pairs of ankles, whining for something to eat.  The young woman's father had been distracted by one of his many outdoor chores and was now along the outside of the barn.  She wasn't sure if she felt confident enough to grab the kitten even if it would let her.  She left this task to her mother, who after a few attempts, scooped the kitten up.  Barn cats can sometimes hiss or spit when confronted, but the young woman saw that this little one was quite at ease in her mother's arms.  Seeing the kitten's sweet demeanor gave the young woman an idea. 

Winter of 2012, the gray kitten, now a plump, short-legged cat lay on a mat where a draft of heat pumps from the furnace.  When the warmth fades, she opens her eyes, blinking in the kitchen light.  After a squeaky stretch, the cat pads across the frigid farmhouse floor and settles in a seated position in front of the couch.  Her small head is tilted upward and she stares at the young woman with her large, green, still quite kitten-like eyes.

Winter of 2012, the young woman is settled on the couch under a quilt to curtain the chill drafting through the old farmhouse windows.  Unable to sit with idle hands, she knits while half-listening to a sitcom her husband is watching.  She looks across at the man she's loved since her teens then back to her knitting.  A short cry brings her attention to a pair of kitten eyes looking up at her from the braided carpet below.  "Come on up," she sing songs to the chubby, gray girl.  The cat leaps up to the young woman's knee and kneads at the quilt rested across her legs.  The woman lifts her cat and adjusts her across her lap, leaving room for the half completed baby blanket she is working on.  As she sits here, she thinks of the year she spent away from this man, from her family, from her home.  She remembers the nights spent with the little, gray kitten curled up under her chin as she slept.  Natural gifts were given and received.  The kitten had the comfort of the young woman's steady heartbeat and body heat.  The young woman had her piece of home and saving grace.  A purr from the cat brings the woman back into the present.  She leans down and kisses the cat on the head, whispering, "Love you, GrayC."

The little, gray kitten all grown up.
Christmas Eve 2011


Jessica said...

I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award...

Sarah said...

YAY! Smiling! Such good news! Smiling! So now do I follow the rules like you did on your blog? Still Smiling!