Saturday, October 11, 2014

Scratches, Part One

“C’mon Mom, their won’t be any more left!” Some child whines, causing my ears to perk.
Turning, I look at the little girl, staring at her as she wanders into the room with a sense of wonder and excitement, her nose crinkling at the scent of all the litterboxes. The old woman who runs the shelter turns and looks at her, standing quickly to throw a blanket over my cage. It’s fine anyway… no child would want me.

“Hello!” An older woman said, her grey streaked auburn hair resting in curls atop her head, her wrinkled skin hanging loose from her bones. “Are you here for the cats, little lady?”
“Yes!” April said, hopping from foot to foot. “Daddy said I could finally have a pet all my own and I want a kitty!”
“Well kitties take a lot of hard work and dedication you know, they need someone who will feed them and play with them every day,” the woman said, turning to regard one of the many stacked cages in the small room. “Is your father with you?”
“No my Mom is, but she’s being slow,” April pouted.
“I am not being slow young lady, I just chose not to sprint off to the back like you did.” A young woman with blonde hair said as she entered the door to the cramped room. “Hello, my name is May, May MacDougal.”
The older woman stuck out her hand and the two shook in greeting. “Mary,” the old woman said, motioning to herself. “And I’m the crazy old cat lady that everyone always talks about.”
“How many do you have in here?” May asked, looking around at the stacks of cages, all with at least one cat in them. The smell of urine and kibble was almost unbearable, though Mary didn’t seem to mind. April crinkled her nose before close it with two fingers.
“Cats are stinky!” April exclaimed, looking around the room as she cautiously began to walk between the aisles.
Mary laughed. “That’s just because I have so many here waiting for a good home, m’dear. And to answer your question May, I have over forty cats and kittens here.”
“Kittens? Mama I want to see the kittens!” April said, running to clutch at her mothers dress. May knelt down and scooped April up, holding her on her hip.
“Yes, let’s take a look at the kittens, shall we?”
Mary smiled and moved over to a cage that showed a nursing mother, with four small bodies, ears flat against their heads and paws outreached, kneading the soft underbelly as they fed. April cooed as she looked at them, smiling excitedly at the sight of a white and black one. She pointed at him.
“I wanna play with him and see if he’ll be my new kitty!” She said, earning a dry chuckle from Mary.
“Well honey, their a bit young to be touching, but if you’d like I can put you down on a waiting list. They’ll be weaned and ready to be adopted in a month and a half.” Mary said with a smile.
“But I want one now!” April whined, shaking her legs back and forth.
“Do you have any other kittens Mary? Maybe some that are a little older?” May asked, hoisting April a bit higher.
Mary’s eyes flickered to a cage covered by a blanket before she clasped her hands together. “No, unfortunately we don’t have any other kittens at the moment.”
“Minew!” Came a small meow from the covered cage, earning a cry of jubilation from April, and a look of concern over Mary.
“You do have one! Let me see, let me see!” April demanded hotly, reaching up towards the cage.
“You wouldn’t be interested in any cat up there little miss, they’re…they’re wild, and need homes where they’ll have a firm hand in raising them.” Mary said, stalling for a minute. “Not cats for little girls, that’s for certain!”
“Let me see!” April said, glaring at the old woman.
“Let’s at least look at the cat, what harm could it do?” May asked, looking at Mary expectantly.
Mary sighed, defeated, and grabbed a small footstool to put in front of the cages so she could reach the cage stacked near the ceiling. She pulled the blanket back, hands shaking, to reveal; a small light red kitten, sitting beneath the darkness innocently. Mary stared at the kitten for a moment before turning back.
“Are you sure you want to see this kitten? We have plenty of older cats that could use a home.”
“Let me see him!” April demanded as May let her down.
“Now dear, say please to the nice lady.” May admonished.
“Let me see the kitten please,” April simpered.
Mary stared at the little girl for a moment, as if she was going to say something, before looking back at the kitten. Slowly, she undid the padlock on the cage and gingerly picked up the kitten by the scruff of its neck, holding the kitten down for April to grab. The kitten, calm and collected, meowed in greeting as it was pulled into April’s embrace. May looked at Mary with a smile as she heard her daughter gush over the kitten.
“I think we’ll be taking this one.” May laughed as the kitten licked her daughter’s nose. “Does it have a name?”
Mary shook her head, one withered hand coming up to grasp a cross around her neck. “No, not one that I know of.”
May looked at Mary a tad strangely; wondering what had gotten into the old woman. “Is there something about this cat that we should know about?”
Mary seemed to want to speak, but her lips wouldn’t move, her throat bulged and her eyes watered. After a moment, she merely shook her head, staring away from them. “No, it’s just a kitten.”
“A girl kitty!” April said, holding the cat up and lifting its tail to inspect. The kitten seemed relaxed in April’s hands and merely gave a half lidded stare at the old woman.
“Do you want the kitty April?” May asked, putting a hand to the back of her child’s head, smoothening her hair.
“Yeah! She’ll be the perfect pet!” April enthused, clutching the kitten in another hug, earning a soft meow from the creature.
“Alright, I’ll take her. How much will she be?” May asked, reaching into her purse to pull out her wallet.
“Free. Free, so long as you take good care of the little think, won’t you April?” Mary said, a sudden smile coming to her face. She walked a little closer and squatted down, pulling out a pink cat carrier. “You can even take this old thing to carry her home in.”
“Are you sure?” May asked, now confused. At first the woman didn’t want to get rid of the cat, now she was giving her away?

“Just keep in mind our return policy: if you want to return a cat, that’s fine. But a kitten is non-returnable. Harder to give away cats with kittens stealing the show.” Mary said, opening the cat carrier. “Now just slide… her in here and you can take her home April.”

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