Lost kitty (Freewrite)
Mommy said she’d be watching from the window, like she always says. She’d been saying that for years and Maddie believed her for a while, and she’d always made sure to be playing in plain view, so Mommy would know she’s a good girl and give her ice cream for dessert. And crawl into bed with her and tickle her good-night or hide under the blanket and tell her a scary story. Not really scary, just pretend scary, like the big hungry ogre who ate all the food, and then he ate all the plates, and the table, and the chairs, and everyone in the house, last of all the little girl hiding under the blanket. How she laughed when Mommy made those noisy slurping sounds, smacking her lips and rubbing her belly.
But Maddie is not that little girl anymore, she’s a big girl now and she reads her own stories now. And that’s good because Mommy doesn’t crawl in her bed anymore, not with that big belly she’s got now. Maddie knows her baby brother’s in there and when he’s ready to come out of Mommy’s tummy he will come play with her out here and Mommy won’t need to watch him, ‘cause she’ll watch over him.
If she wanted, Maddie could ride her bike all the way to the corner of the street and Mommy wouldn’t know a thing, but she doesn’t. She’s more interested in that meowing sound coming from the bushes. Maddie likes cats, but Mommy says they can’t have one, not with the baby coming soon. Maybe in a year or two.
The meowing is very faint, but it sounds so urgent, ‘someone, please, come’ it says.
‘Don’t worry, kitty, I’ll find you’.
The girl leaves her bike near the fence and struggles to make her way through the bramble and she forces herself not to think of spiders or cockroaches or anything.
‘There you are!’
Poor little thing, it’s no more than a kitten and it’s trembling so hard, must be the fright, cause it’s a really nice warm day. Looks like Mr. Sammy’s cat, all silvery gray and a small patch of white on the forehead, like a star. Maybe’ Mr. Sammy’s cat has had a baby, too, like Mommy. But what’s it doing down here? Mr. Sammy lives in that shack that’s up the stairs. Maddie’s not allowed to go up there, cause there’s nothing to see there. Th stairs used to lead to the park, but they put a fence there, and then Mr. Sammy moved into the shack and they let him stay there, cause nobody used it anymore. Maddie thinks Mr. Sammy is weird, cause he never stops to talk to them, like other people do.
Still, the kitty must be his, Maddie is sure of that. Maybe she should take it back, its Mommy must be worried. Her Mommy would be worried, too.
The kitty has stopped crying, its little claws clutching at Maddie’s T-shirt, holding on for dear life. The girl eyes the stone stairs nervously, but she knows she must go up, no matter what. Mommy is not at the window, she won’t even know. Maybe Mr. Sammy isn’t home and she’ll just leave the cat and run down and go straight home.
But Mr. Sammy is there, sitting in an old wicker chair, smoking, and he’s startled to see a visitor coming up the stairs. His eyes warm up as he pries the kitty off Maddie’s shirt and the cat rubs against his arm, and it’s a different sort of meow, a ‘good to be back, I was afraid I won’t see you ever again’ sort of meow.
Maddie is about to turn round and run home, but Mr. Sammy grabs her hand and holds it lightly. He looks like he’s about to speak and the girl looks him in the eye and sees everything. All the words the old man never says. The dreams he had when he was a boy, all the mistakes he has ever made, the woman he drove away, the girl who refuses to call him father, the small house that used to be his, the gambling, the debts, the day he was thrown out of his house with nothing but the clothes on his back. The shame. The day his little girl got married and he watched her from across the street, hidden behind a tree. He seemed a nice boy, the one she'd married and Mr. Sammy hoped he’ll make her happy. Although he didn’t know about happy. His wife was never happy and he used to get angry at her, but now he knows she was right.
At least, the cats are happy with him.
It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds, but Maddie saw all the sadness in the world in the man’s eyes, sadness she never knew existed and her heart breaks as she understands she cannot take Mr. Sammy’s pain away. Mr. Sammy lets go of her hand and pats her on the cheek, his fingers barely touching her skin, like it's really fragile and he shouldn't touch.
‘Thank you’, he says and his voice is rusty, like that of people who have no one to talk to, people who live in their heads and it’s not a nice place in there, it’s just empty corridors, full of dust and ghosts and words that won’t ever be spoken, as their time has passed and now there's no one to hear them.
Maddie is free to go now, but she doesn’t run down the stairs, cause she’s not a little girl anymore. She’ll have to make sure her little brother won’t ever go up there and see what she just did.
Thanks for reading!