Three and a half weeks ago we saw him for the first time—a filthy, scrawny tuxedo kitten wandering the neighborhood alone. We tried to catch him with love and food, and when that didn’t work and a kid from down the street guaranteed that she could catch him if we gave her a towel, we took her up on the offer.
Thirty minutes later, we had a new baby.
We named him Toby. Toby Toe Beans, Tobes, Toblerone. He’s a super sweetie pie who purrs in seconds when you snuggle him into your chest.
The next morning we took him to the vet who confirmed his scrawniness but verified that he was relatively healthy and would be fine soon with a good home. He took his first shots like a champ.
His current room is our shower stall, complete with food, water, bed, and a small foil pan for a litter box. We quarantined him for five days before introducing him to the family, but we still lock him up in the shower overnight and when we’re both at work. Another week and he should be fine with everyone except my mother’s cat who hates anyone who isn’t my mother.
We learned yesterday to take the shower stool out of the shower, though. We’d left it in for a hiding spot, but yesterday morning I woke up to a little baby on my cover. He’d jumped from the stool to the shower caddy to the top of the shower doors, where he knocked nearly everything down but made it safely to the floor. Then he squeezed under the bathroom door, and he was out.
What an adorable little handful.
When she returned to her room from the bathroom, Claire left her door open just a hair, barely enough for her cat, Caroline, to nudge it the rest of the way open. Caroline moseyed in and made her way to Claire at her desk, where she rubbed her side against Claire’s leg until she reached down to pick her up and nuzzle her face into Caroline’s soft gray fur.
“You’re right, sweetie, it’s time for a break,” Claire said. She softly closed her laptop and scooted her chair back, hugging the cat closer as she stood. Once on the stairs, Caroline struggled for freedom, so Claire let her leap to the landing and continued down on her own.
Her sister Melissa was in the kitchen, mixing something foul in the blender. “Mom needs more sugar if you’re going to the store today,” she announced.
“I’ll go to the store if you stop with the stupid smoothie diet,” answered Claire.
Melissa shrugged. “I’ve lost three pounds this month AND my hair has never been healthier. Pick me up some bananas and kale?”
Claire shook her head and trudged to the fridge, where she perused for long enough to let her stomach growl Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. She finally selected the last slice of leftover pizza and decided against microwaving it. Caroline trotted in to see if Claire was eating anything good, but since she was not a fan of veggie pizza, she continued on to her food bowl.
Wiping the crumbs from her hands, Claire grabbed her purse from the kitchen counter and checked her front pocket for her phone. She slid into a pair of flip flops by the front door and snagged her keys from the hook and was out the door before she could talk herself into giving Melissa a piece of her mind.
“Kale, bananas, sugar,” she muttered to herself as she started her car. She wondered if she herself needed anything, but came up with nothing. Claire shrugged. At least the grocery store was only a few blocks away, and she could browse until she figured out what she was cooking for dinner. Tonight was her night to cook for the three of them.
Well, I guess it’s about time to get back into this. OLWG #68 You wanna know something even weirder? Today is exactly one year since I participated. Spooky.
Stanley does enjoy the wheelchair.
Potato is a good name for a cat, she thought, staring into the depths of the refrigerator. The bright yellow potato salad container caught her eye, but she quickly dismissed it as a snack. Sighing, she opened the vegetable drawer and removed the bag of radishes. I guess that’ll do.
I felt off when I clocked out at work last night. It didn’t wipe the end-of-my-shift-screw-you-guys grin off my face, but there was still this tiny collapsing place inside my chest where things should have been perfectly normal. It didn’t go away when I got home, either.
I sat on the couch until four o’clock in the morning eating ice cream straight from the carton and watching YouTube videos on how to groom llamas, which is normally a surefire crowd pleaser in this household, thankyouverymuch, but it didn’t work.
I say I only sat there until four because that’s my best estimate of when I passed out and dropped the ice cream to melt onto my favorite rug. That kind of pissed me off when I woke up with a crick in my neck and my ice cream spoon rattling against my molars. The spot of warmth snuggled up in the crook of my knees told me that my cat, Amelia, hadn’t given up on me just yet, though.
I sat up and swung my feet to the floor, and that’s when I found the ice cream. I made sure to thank Amelia for slacking in the dark of night. She meowed and walked away. I always knew she didn’t care about that rug. She pukes on it nearly every day. This morning the only thing on the rug was ice cream, so I guess I should have counted myself lucky. But I didn’t.
I stood up and felt that hollow space inside my chest again, aching for attention, but I didn’t know what kind of attention to give it. It didn’t feel like loneliness, or panic, or anxiety, or depression, or any one of the hundred bad things I had experience with.
So I did what I rend to do in these situations.
I ignored it.
I stumbled into the kitchen to grab a towel for the ice cream, but first I opened the fridge and took a good slug of OJ straight from the jug. I don’t have a lot to do with plates and bowls at home. I do know how to behave in public, though, so don’t worry about that. When I put the orange juice back on the top shelf of the fridge, I noticed that I still had an egg carton sitting there, which was weird.
I could have sworn that I’d eaten the last egg a couple days earlier, so I pulled the carton out and set it on the counter. I didn’t bother to open it. The weight already told me that it was empty, that I’d simply been too lazy or inattentive to throw it away instead of putting it back into the fridge to tease myself with the promise of eggs.
I’m such an asshole sometimes.
Amelia meowed at my feet and rubbed against my leg, and I leaned down to pet her and noticed that she waws only announcing that she had recently vomited on the very edge of the carpet, millimeters from the much more easily cleaned linoleum. That cat, I swear. She’s going to be the death of me one day. Probably in some highly unusual way.
I grabbed the dishtowel from the counter and took a step toward the living room to clean up the ice cream, and that’s when it hit me. It was my damn birthday. That’s what that feeling in my chest was all about. Now that I’d realized it was my birthday, I did recognize its unique emptiness and flutterings of nobody cares-ness.
I tried to shrug it off. Nobody knew or cared about my birthday anymore. I had no family and no friends, and i wouldn’t let any of my coworkers get close enough to me to know if I’d worn the same shirt the day before. For some reason, this year it didn’t work. I tried to push the whole thing to the back of my mind and continued to the living room.
I scrubbed the ice cream stain for a few moments, my knees reddening from the rough carpet fibers grinding into the tender skin. Finally , I dropped the towel and turned to plop myself on the couch, where I dropped my head into my hands and sobbed. As usual, Amelia failed to come and offer me any hint of comfort. She watched me from the opposite corner of the couch, expressionless as only a cat can be.