Phoebe

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
March/April 2008

Erin Cadora

It was a quaint little backyard, not much, but cozy, a haven for many strays. With pretty, plump azalea bushes to dash into, and a soft, ivy-covered ground to sleep on, a homeless kitty could spend a few comfortable nights there. Of course, it was never a permanent home of any stray, but there was one who was different.

She was not quite full-grown, but not a kitten either. Her stomach was as white and fluffy as a cloud, but her tail, back, and the top of her head were a thunderstorm gray. She had petite paws and innocent features. Her face consisted of glittering, clever, but frightened eyes and an adorable little pink nose that almost sparkled in the sunlight. She had obviously had a previous home, because there was a silver bell attached to her neck by a red velvet strap. Unfortunately, her previous owner had most likely abused her; she was petrified of humans and always had that anxious look in her eyes.

Phoebe cat in the flowers

She was not quite full grown, but not a kitten either

She had certainly taken quite a shine to that garden, and had seemed to settle there, but she took care not to venture near the crusted old brownstone that towered above her. Little did she know, the woman who lived in that house was interested in her, she was curious about the cat that lived in her yard. She also took pity on the poor thing; she was scared the kitty might starve. Every time the cat tried to sneak up on a bird or squirrel, her bell would jingle, scaring the critter away, and leaving her hungry. She was beginning to grow slim and slightly weak. The woman thought the cat was adorable, but didn’t even consider taking her in. She still hadn’t gotten over the recent loss of her pet cat that was very dear to her, Robert. He had been a unique cat, playful and mischievous, but all the more lovable. She still wanted to do something for the young kitty, so she decided that she would try to take her bell off. She stepped gingerly into the yard, trying not to make too much noise. But the second the cat caught a glimpse of the woman, she darted behind a tree, not wanting anything to do with people.

The woman was determined to get that cat something to eat, and she had an idea for the next day. When she got home from work, she carelessly tossed her bag aside, eager to help the sweet young cat. She grabbed a paper plate and poured some cat food on it. Again, she stepped outside as gingerly as possible, but the cat sprung into the azaleas. From the fragments of world visible from in-between the dense bushes, the cat saw the woman put something down on the ground and walk back into the house. The cat was puzzled. Why would the woman put down a white disc with little brown circles? she thought. Intrigued, she slinked out of her hiding place and over to the unknown object. She sniffed, and a wonderful scent (in her opinion) erupted from the plate. She inhaled deeper and deeper until she was scarfing down the food. She knew the meal was from the woman, and she assumed she was kind, but felt she couldn’t trust humans yet; ugly flashes of her old life still remained in her mind.

Phoebe looking out the window

The woman’s interest in the cat had turned to a love for her. She had fed her and watched her in a motherly fashion for a couple weeks, and was almost sure she could welcome the beautiful creature into her home. But sorrowful memories of poor Robert’s death still lurked in her mind, and she didn’t know if she could handle taking in another cat. As she debated with herself, she practiced her routine of pouring some cat food onto a plate and toptoeing outside.

The cat cleansed her paws with her rough little tongue as she, too, thought about whether or not she would like to live with the woman. After the woman had given her several meals, feelings of affection for her food supplier had grown. She stopped, alert, with her ears perked up as the woman stepped outside to give her food, but she did not run away. The two maintained eye contact right until the minute the woman walked into her home, but didn’t close the door. The cat looked at the food, then at the awaiting open door, and listlessly but surely walked into the house.

Thirteen years later, a plump, aged, affectionate cat named Phoebe purrs relentlessly as she nuzzles the sleeping daughter of the woman who took her in.

Phoebe Erin Cadora

Erin Cadora,10
Brooklyn, New York

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