There was no noise. Everything was silent except for birds chirping and leaves rustling. Off in the distance a bell rang. Suddenly, noise erupted as students came running out of Lake Heights Elementary eager to begin their summer. Only one child didn’t run out screaming and yelling. This child was an eight-year-old girl named Suzy. Suzy was an average-looking girl with cropped blond hair to her shoulders. She was doodling in her notebook, ignoring all the screams of delight around her. Suzy added the finishing touch and smiled, admiring the kitten looking up at her from her notebook. Pocketing it, Suzy skipped down the sidewalk towards home, daydreaming all the while. She thought of what she and her best friend, Emily, would do for the summer.
Suzy was so busy thinking about swimming and playing soccer that she didn’t realize where she was going. Suzy snapped out of her trance as she heard a large truck go by. Looking around at her surroundings, she gulped. This definitely wasn’t her friendly neighborhood, but uptown. How on earth did I get here? she thought to herself nervously. The truck that had rumbled so noisily past her stopped at a building. On the side of the building she read: Humane S-so-ciety.” Suzy frowned. Humane Society? What’s that? she wondered curiously. Well, I need a telephone to call Mom and Dad, and it looks pretty friendly, so I guess there’s only one way to find out. Suzy walked over to the doors and, opening them, went inside.
It was like her dream come true. Every inch of the room was filled with cats and dogs meowing and barking. “Wow,” she whispered in awe. Looking down the rows of the cages, one particular animal caught her eye. It was a tiny, adorable calico kitten that was looking at her pleadingly. Suzy walked over to its cage and reached out her hand.
“Hello! Can I help you?” She spun around, an elderly lady was walking toward her with a big smile on her face.
“No! I mean… yes!” said Suzy. “Er, do you have a telephone I could use?”
“Certainly,” said the woman, indicating a pay phone on the wall.
Suzy thanked her and placed a quarter in the phone. A few minutes later she hung up, relieved her parents were home and coming to get her. While she waited, the lady told Suzy all about the Humane Society. Suzy then went back to the kitten to look at it admiringly. It softly emitted a tiny meow. An idea suddenly occurred to her… Suzy saw her parents’ car outside and whispered to the kitten, “See you soon.”
“Please!” cried Suzy for the fifth time in a row.
“For the last time, no!” her mother exclaimed.
“You’re not old enough, Suze,” her father said gently. They were back at Suzy’s house and she had just asked them about the calico kitten.
“Would you please turn it down a notch!” snapped Suzy’s older brother, Mark, as he came into the kitchen wearing his headphones. “Rock music is much more interesting than an argument about a stupid kitten, and I can’t even hear it with my headphones on!”
“Yes,” said Suzy’s mother, “this argument is over.” Suzy burst into tears.
“That lady told me what they do with unwanted animals and you don’t even care!” she sobbed. Running up to her room, she slammed the door and threw herself on her bed. She stayed in her room the rest of the evening.
The next day, Suzy told Emily about what happened the night before. Instead of acting angry at Suzy’s parents, however, Emily smiled.
“Don’t worry, Suzy, I know how you can get that kitten.”
That night, Suzy set to work on Emily’s idea. By doing chores around the house, she would show she was responsible enough for a kitten. Unfortunately, her parents had no idea what she was up to and just thought she was being helpful. After Suzy finished cleaning bathrooms, doing dishes, and washing windows, she was exhausted. Surprised, she happily accepted the money her father gave her with a proud smile. She did this every day until she had enough money to buy: a litter box, one bag of cat food, and some sand.
Suzy knew her parents wouldn’t keep paying her to do housework, so she and Emily hung up posters around town reading: Keen to Be Clean? Call Suzy at 268- 5021. No one (to Suzy’s disappointment) hired her after they found out her age. Then one day her luck changed. After listening on the phone for a while, Suzy jumped up and yelled, “I’m hired!” With that she ran out of the house and went to Baker Street to meet her customer.
Trying to ignore the butterflies in her stomach, Suzy rang the bell. The door opened and Suzy gasped. It was the elderly woman from the Humane Society!
“I know you,” she said in surprise, “y-you’re the woman who…”
“Yes, I’m Mrs. Wood,” said the woman. “Are you Suzy? The one who’s supposed to clean my house?”
Suzy nodded. She noticed how Mrs. Wood’s eyes seemed to sparkle and felt she could trust this lady with the kind smile. She blurted out the whole story. Mrs. Wood listened carefully, then nodded as Suzy finished.
“It sounds like you’ve been working up a storm dear, so please accept this and save that little kitten,” she said, taking Suzy’s hand and pressing a twenty-dollar bill into her palm. Suzy looked at it. There was even enough money to acquire a squeaky toy, plus everything else she needed.
“B-but I haven’t cleaned anything for you!”
“Oh, don’t worry about that, something tells me you’d be a lovely owner for that calico kitten.”
When Suzy got home Mark was in the kitchen listening to his iPod and eating a bag of Oreos. Taking one earphone out, he said, “Hey, kitten-obsessed.”
Glaring at her brother, Suzy sat down and grabbed an Oreo.
After watching his sister eat for a few seconds, Mark asked, “What’s with the new cleaning frenzy?”
“For your information, I am doing this to try and get a kitten!” Suzy snapped.
“Figures,” he muttered.
It was later, Suzy had just finished supper and was lying on her bed doodling in her notebook. Suddenly, the door flew open and the cat’s perfect whisker in the drawing turned into a long jagged line. “Go away, Mark!” she shouted.
“But I have a surprise for you.”
“I said go away, I don’t need to hear any more rude comments.”
“Fine. Don’t come shopping with me then.”
“Shopping?” Suzy loved shopping with her brother because he treated her more like a friend than an irritating little sister.
“Well, I guess I could go.”
“Great, then I’ll meet you in the car.” He started to walk out of her room, then stuck his head back in. “Oh, and don’t be a slowpoke… slowpoke!”
Suzy sighed, then grabbed a sweater and headed out the door. Mark was already in the car and he honked the horn impatiently.
After a short drive, they pulled into a familiar-looking building.
“Huh?” said Suzy, confused. “Why are we at the Humane Society?”
Mark turned around in his seat to look at her. “After you told me why you were doing your ‘cleaning frenzy,’ I managed to persuade Mom and Dad to reconsider the kitten.”
“But why would you care if I got my ‘stupid kitten,’ when all you did was make fun of me about it?” Suzy asked sourly.
“Just because I bug you doesn’t mean I don’t care about you.” When he saw Suzy’s raised eyebrow he added, “Look, all I’m trying to say is, you deserve a reward for all that hard work, and what could be better than your lifelong dream?”
Suzy grinned. “Wow, Mark, I never saw you think this deeply before!”
“Hey! Now I…”
“I’m kidding!” she laughed. “Now come on, I want to show you the one I want!”
While Mark was driving the kitten and its savior home, he remarked, “I can think of a good name for your pet: Obsession!”
Suzy rolled her eyes while cradling her calico. What would be a good name? She remembered Mrs. Wood’s eyes and how the windows looked after they were polished. Suzy smiled.
“Sparkle, my kitten is going to be named Sparkle.”
Mark craned his neck, trying to see the calico. “Doesn’t look very sparkly to me.”
Suzy ignored her brother and focused on what was important. For one thing, she realized that things weren’t always as they seemed. Take Mark, for example. And for another thing, the saying “hard work pays off” really did turn out to be true. She smiled the rest of the way home.