“Get out of here you stupid cat!”
I hiss as the head of a broom comes crashing down on the spot I was standing a moment before. Narrowly dodging another swing of the broom, I take off down the alley. Quickly, I skid around the corner-startling a few pedestrians-and dash down the street. Pausing at a street corner, I scan my surroundings for refuge.
Without warning, a car races by, blasting me with cold air and spraying me with muddy water. I growl, annoyed, as I shake the moisture from my golden fur. I jump, when a scream erupts from behind me.
“Ugh! A stray! Get out of here you filthy creature!”
My sharp reflexes save me from a pointed heel as I leap away from the woman. She attempts to batter me with her purse, but I’m already gone.
I run out into the street without thinking and nearly pay for my mistake with my life as a semi-truck passes me by a whisker. I stand there, unable to move, for I’m frozen with fear. Cars whiz passed me relentlessly. There’s no safe way to get to either end of the road.
The traffic lights shift from green to yellow to red.
As soon as the cars begin to slow, I sprint across to the safety of the sidewalk. I weave in between legs until I reach another alley.
Finally, I can relax and my fur starts to lie flat.
That is, until I hear a commotion nearby.
Swiftly, I bound over to hide behind a trash can just as a door swings open. Metal hinges groan as a young woman is tossed onto the hard pavement.
“Get out of here you stupid girl!” snarls a middle-aged man, dark facial hair lining his jaw.
The door slams shut and the woman is left in darkness.
I don’t dare venture out to take a closer look, for I’m sure she is just like everyone else in this city. She’ll probably take one look at me and kick me away. That’s what everyone does with strays: they leave them to rot in the barren wastes of the city.
Unsheathing my claws, I dig them into the ground furiously. What gave these people the right to treat me like some sort of disease?! Movement causes me to swallow my growl.
Walking slowly as if she’s in no rush to go anywhere, the young woman nears my hiding spot. She pauses right next to me, but her gaze never washes over me. Preoccupied with her own worries, she fails to notice the slender feline peeking out from behind the trash can.
I prepare myself to hold my breath to avoid detection. I didn’t want her seeing me; I had enough abuse for the day.
Suddenly, a breeze stirs the air and pulls (h/c) strands away from her face. There’s no evidence of tears on her face, but her eyes….oh, those eyes! The misery in those (e/c) eyes is thick enough to send a thorn through my heart. What possibly could have happened to this girl to make her look so sad?
My gaze trails down to her hand, which is clenched tightly into a fist. I can tell she’s trying hard not to cry. Her shoulders begin to shake as she attempts to stifle a sob and I can’t take it anymore!
No cat pushes me around. No human is given any mercy, when I’m ticked off. I’m not generous nor am I a very caring creature. But for all I’m worth, I still have a heart. I couldn’t stand there and watch the tears race down her cheeks. I had to do something.
So I take a hesitant paw step out of hiding. Then another. And another. Before I can consider the consequences, I’m standing awkwardly at her feet. Unsure how to proceed, I look up at her and meow loudly.
Reaching up to wipe away the wetness around her eyes, she turns her gaze on my scrawny form. Pretty (e/c) eyes connect with my deep violet ones.
I don’t want to admit it, but my heart is beating fast inside my chest. I haven’t approached a human like this in a long time. Scolding myself for being nervous, I meow again.
The corners of her mouth twitch until a small smile appears. Bending down, she reaches out to touch me.
I tense. Too many times a hand coming towards me meant pain. Bunching my haunches, I’m about to hiss and run off, when something touches my pelt.
Gently, fingers smooth my fur as she slides her hand down my back. It’s not painful. It doesn’t hurt. Her touch leaves no lingering ache in my side or a sting in my shoulder. Her dull nails draw no blood.
I’m confused. I am not used to this….this feeling. It’s not agony, so what is it?
Careful to not spook me, she lifts her other hand to my head. Her fingers sneak behind my ear and I can’t help but sigh as she scratches.
“Looks like we’re both having a rough time, huh, kitty?” she points out, her voice shaking slightly.
Meowing in agreement, I press my cheek into her hand. I don’t want her to stop scratching. I like the sensation it brings me; it’s pleasant.
“I can’t see why anyone would abandon such a nice kitty…” she sighs, giving me a sympathetic look.
I can’t figure out how she wouldn’t. What makes her act different? Is it really this easy?
Screeching of metal hinges startles us both and I jump away from her as the door swings open.
“I thought I told you to scram!” snaps the man from before while he storms out into the alley.
Something flies at the woman’s head and she ducks to avoid it. I turn to flee, only to be scooped up into her arms. Hissing, my fur spikes up as I squirm in her grasp. She dashes around the corner and carries me across the city. I put up a fight every step of the way: hissing, clawing, and even some nipping. However, she ignores my efforts and races into an ancient, brick building. Charging up a flight of stairs, she skids to a halt in front of a dark door. Fumbling with a key, she unlocks the apartment and slips inside. Finally, she sets me down on the floor.
I shoot a glare at her and bare my fangs to show her I didn’t enjoy the ride.
“Sorry, but I didn’t think you wanted to be left out there in the cold any more than I did,” she explains breathlessly.
Now safely indoors, she warily walks over to a dusty, green couch and plops down.
Cautiously, I follow her and sit down near the side of the couch.
I jump, when a hand strokes my back. Spinning around I swipe an unsheathed paw at her hand. She recoils in an instant.
“Calm down! I’m not going to hurt you…” she reassures me, her voice soft.
Still confused over my earlier actions, I’m not ready to allow her to touch me again. I can’t bring myself to trust her…not yet.
Padding over to a corner of the room, I curl up and glare at her.
“What’s wrong? Don’t want to be social anymore?” A small, playful smile captures her face as she gazes at me from the couch.
My fur tingles and I stubbornly look away. Burying my nose beneath my tail, I close my eyes to sleep. Admittedly, I am grateful for the shelter from the icy wind tonight. Even my long, golden fur couldn’t protect me from the freezing air in the city.
I barely hear the whisper as something shifts on the couch. Opening one eye a sliver, I notice the young woman has rolled up in a blanket. Her bare feet stick out at the bottom.
Knowing her pale feet will be frozen by morning, I force myself to my paws. Grumbling to myself, I pad over and leap onto the couch. I climb onto her feet and as I curl up on top of them, I hear a muffled giggle. Rolling my eyes at her ticklishness, I bury my nose beneath my tail and drift off to sleep…