Written for Writer’s Cramp 5/16/2017 Prompt; end story with She never questioned the cat again.
1,000 words or less.
The purring woke Sarah. A tail lashed across her peripheral vision. She groaned as she turned her head to look at the clock on her night stand. It read 5:39am and her eyes snapped shut.
“Why must you wake me at this ungodly hour, you mangy bag of bones?”
A head butted against her face and rubbed across her cheek. A plaintive meow rang in her ear.
“I’m up, I’m up, don’t you see?” Sarah pushed herself up and swung her legs off the side of the bed. She braced herself with hands on either side of her hips and head drooped.
A warm soft body snaked its way between her arm and side and perched on her lap. Another meow sent warm putrid breath into her face.
“Oh for the love of all that’s holy, what have you been eating? Seriously?”
She stood and the cat landed softly on the floor and wove itself between her legs.
Sarah shuffled into the living room and pushed open the sliding glass door wide enough for the slim feline body to slip through.
“Is this a pee emergency or a tryst with that Tom down the street.? He knows you’re fixed right?” She quipped as she slid the door back into place.
The coffee maker on the counter blinked. It wouldn’t start brewing for another hour and a half. Sarah moved to the couch and curled up waiting for the inevitable meowing at the door when Zoey was finished with her business. Whatever it was.
The smell of coffee woke her and she felt the moment of disorientation as she looked around for Zoey. A stab of guilt propelled her to her feet and the sliding glass door. She expected to be greeted with a reproachful look but instead she felt a tiny little panic when she didn’t see the cat.
The door slid opened easily and Sarah stepped out onto the back porch.
“Zoey, Zooooo-eeeey,” she called.
The property backed up to an open field with a wooded stretch behind. Sarah knew there were predators; hawks, owls, coyotes. Her cat was smart and wary. She was okay. Sarah didn’t understand the hard-lump low in her chest. Not fear or guilt just feeling a little bit anxious is all.
Sarah found Zoey trapped under a cardboard box in a vacant lot when she was a ginger fluff of a kitten. Sarah hadn’t wanted a pet or the responsibility that went with caring for another creature. That was two years ago.
“Zoey, where are you?”
She left the sliding door cracked wide enough to let the cat back in just in case. No telling what else would wander in while she got ready for the day. A shower and a strong cup of coffee would only take a few minutes and leave enough time for a quick look around the outside of the house before she needed to leave. She didn’t really have an appointment or a job but she went every day to the local café to write. It fed her creative juices to sit where life was happening, if only at a slightly faster pace than her living room.
The blow dryer nearly drowned out the noise but Sarah gave a sigh of relief. She walked in to the living room to close the sliding door but Zoey beat her to it and slipped back outside.
“Zoey, what are you doing? Get back in here. I have to go.”
She followed the cat back outside, around the side of the house and watched her cross the street.
“Get back here you crazy cat.”
Sarah could tell when she was being ignored.
“I don’t know what you think you are doing.”
This was spoken to a tail as it disappeared around the back of her neighbor’s house.
“Don’t make me come after you.” Sarah humphed.
She hadn’t met her new neighbors yet. A truck had pulled up a month ago and several men had unloaded it. The family, or couple or individual had yet to be seen.
In the moments of indecision before Sarah could cross the street to pursue her cat, Zoey reappeared.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?”
A kitten hung from Zoey’s mouth.
“Put that back right now.” Sarah commanded with one hand on her hip the other pointing at the house across the street.
“You and I both know that can’t possibly be yours.”
Zoey didn’t even glance in Sarah’s direction. She was a cat on a mission. Sarah followed her back around the house, watched her slip through the door and then reappear sans kitten.
“Oh, no, no, no.” Sarah stepped back through the door, peered over the back of her couch and three little faces turned in unison to look at her.
“Oh, for the love of Mike.”
“No, the name is John actually.”
Sarah squeaked as she turned to face the man standing at her back door.
“I’m your new neighbor.” He put his hand through the opened doorway and Sarah stared at it and him in confusion. He was tall, dark and handsome, in fact he was a cliché.
Sarah caught her breath and a voice she had never heard come out of her mouth before said, “Hi, I’m Sarah.”
“I think your cat is stealing my kittens.”
As if in response Zoey sauntered between his legs and into the house carrying another kitten.
“Their mother died a few days ago.”
“I’m sorry.” Sarah watched Zoey deposit the latest kitten beside its siblings.
“They are just old enough to take milk from a bowl.”
Zoey wound her way past Sarah and headed back out the door.
Sarah opened her mouth to try to stop her cat.
“Don’t worry,” John interrupted, “there’s only one more.”
He smiled and she felt her knees go weak.
She never questioned the cat again