Hey, everyone! To those celebrating, I would like to take a moment to wish you a happy and safe Hanukkah. Myself? I’m looking forward to a quiet Christmas at home.
This time of year, I invariably look back on the highs and lows I’ve experienced, but this year I’m pulled back even farther. This time last year I was mourning the loss of a beloved family pet. I had my cat Sassy for 17+ years. She was my near constant companion and shadow. I’m sure some of you will remember the post I made about her passing and the pair of kittens my family adopted a few weeks later. The three of them are my inspiration for my story Forever Home in the charity anthology Reindeer Tails.
In this season of giving, I was blessed to be able to take part in this project. As an animal lover, not only do I appreciate the need of homes for animals without them, but I understand the impact the right animal can have on the right person. They connect people who might never have met otherwise and bring cheer when it seems like there isn’t much to smile about. They say a pet never hurts us until they leave, and it’s true. So, when I heard about this fantastic anthology benefitting a cat shelter, I knew I had to take part. Though my story is fictional, the memories I shared in it were my own. I don’t know if a piece has ever had me crying so hard with each word I wrote. The story has a happy ending, much as my own pet story ultimately did, but sometimes we have to face our memories to come to a place we can accept them. I don’t think I’d have been willing to revisit some of my memories for any project, except this one. If you’re looking for a great read benefiting a worthy cause, I hope you’ll check out Reindeer Tails. You can grab your copy by clicking here.
“Gram?” I mumble, my vision blurry in the low light of the dying fire as a thump pulls me from sleep. I lie on the couch, a blanket tucked around me. Sitting up, I rub my eyes and switch on the lamp beside the couch. “Gram?” I say a bit louder.
The couch cushion at my feet shifts and I twist, my jaw dropping. Two massive, lemon colored eyes watch me from a fluffy gray face. “Cassy?” My heart soars before it drops into my shoes. I jiggle my head. “You’re dreaming. Cassy is—”
“Gone? If my being here is weird, let my words sink in.”
I yelp and scramble backward to tumble off the couch. My head hits the carpet and I wince. “Ouch.” I rub the back of my skull. “At least I’m awake now.”
“You have been for a while.”
I jolt to find Cassy perched on the backrest of the couch, her long fluffy tail curled around her paws. When she hops into my lap, I open my mouth to scream.
“Do you want to give Grammy a stroke? Stop yowling and listen!” She slaps a paw onto my lips. A hint of claw tickles me. “If you’re surprised, imagine my position. Imagine the biggest bag of catnip you’ve ever seen. Mine. Then I got a call from the head honcho because you’re messed up.” She licks her paw to clean her ears. “Plopped me here without discussion. Though, being able to speak your language is nice. This way I don’t have to tell you the same thing five hundred times before it registers.” She glowers at me, her same resting hiss face in full force.
“How is this possible?”
She swishes her tail. “Someone, somewhere, likes you. You don’t think I’m a crumb of underdone potato?”
Something lodges in my throat while my lip trembles and I reach to scratch behind her left ear.
Purring, she tilts her head in my palm before headbutting my chin. “I missed you too.”
I pull her to me and burry my face in her fur; it has the same sweet earthy scent I remember. “You’re here?”
She licks the tip of my nose. “You got it. Alright, I’d love to stay here but we have places to be.” She gives me a final headbutt and hops off my lap to saunter to the front door.
“Where are you going?” I scramble after her. “Why do you have to leave now?”
“You realize I didn’t mean the royal we, right? You’re coming too. Or can you not grasp your own language either now?” She tilts her head at me. “Come on, I need your thumbs for this.”
Thank you for reading!