She was loved so very much!
...and I'll always miss her.
Looking at old pics reminded me of just how much Patches meant to me. She was just a tiny thing--7 pounds of pure calico visciousness! I stole Patches from her mother when she was close to a year old, she bit me then and retained much of her feral streak till the end. Yet, somehow, she was the one of all my furfriends that, when she deigned to be home, always sat with me when I worked. If I moved from the chair, she captured the spot and sometimes refused to budge when I returned!
One of the first stories I wrote, the only ever done in first person was inspired by her beautiful multicolored hair. I remember finishing it, doing the cover (which I was very proud of considering my limited ability!) and putting it on Scribd. Guess you could say it was my first foray into self-publishing and in just a few days it had a flame meaning people actually read something I published!
Anyway, today I thought I'd post the short story from 2008 here in honor of Patches and I hope you enjoy it, errors and all, because it was never professionally edited!
“Here kitty, kitty. Here Kitty.”
I listened to his melodic voice from my perch high atop the old stone masonry pillars. I sat here and, night after night, I watched the world sweep by. I now anticipated seeing him, hearing him. My heart broke a little each night that he walked right beneath my seat. Never looking up, he called to his elusive kitty. Never seeing me.
Tonight my ears were struck painfully by the sad timber of his voice calling and calling in the darkness. Where was his kitty?
It seemed darker than usual tonight. The heavy clouds marched silently across the sky hiding the full moon. There wasn’t a star in sight. Hot and sticky, I fidgeted around on my seat. The rain clouds threatened to burst at any moment, and I wanted them to hurry. It would be one of those storms that would be violent and brief, leaving the moonlit sky clear, with the stars bright and twinkling. What if it's too dark for him to see. I hoped tonight he would find his kitty.
“Where are you Kitty? It’s time to come home.”
It was a cloudy night but I knew his hair was ebony with silver lacing through it. I knew it brushed below his shoulder blades. On nights past, I watched the moonlight dance on the unruly waves that wound just past his shirt collar. And I knew his eyes were as gunmetal gray as the thunder clouds that paced agitatedly overhead. He came this way often the last six nights, his voice preceding him in the dark. Tall, with an athletic build, his muscular legs would eat up the sidewalk as he strode in my direction. I watched him pass me by every time.
The dried smudges of paint left from his afternoon's work laced his fingers and streaked his tee shirt. It smeared across his broad chest in a riot of colors—cornflower blue, burnt orange, sunflower yellow and brilliant red. The pattern from wiping his hands left an abstract vision of a wildflower garden dancing above the hard plains of muscle that made up his stomach. On him the paint wasn’t out of place. He was an artist who during the day sometimes carried his easel past me to the park. His large hands were strong and sure. His kitty probably loved being stroked by those hands. Did he leave colors streaked through kitty’s fur?
I heard his voice fade and knew he turned into the alley that ran beside the old mansion behind me. The wrought iron fencing completely surrounded the property, which had long ago been abandoned. Rumored to be haunted, I never saw the ghost people whispered about and I had a lofty, high up seat from which I could view the grounds.
Just cats, lots of cats.
My family left long ago, leaving me the only resident of the mansion. My sister used to sit and watch with me but she left last year. My home was in need of a good deal of masonry work and paint, but it was still a beautiful, proud place. Magnolia trees lined the perimeter, along the fence. When the gates opened, ornamental pear trees that bloomed with a cascade of tiny white flowers every spring lined the road leading to the front of the house. Of course my garden appeared a little overgrown, but still beautiful in a wild way. The way I liked it. The cats like it too. They're safe here.
I heard him calling and I knew he stopped occasionally to peer inside of the fence. Looking for his kitty. If it was a clear night I'd be able to see him.
A fat drop of water splashed my forehead and dripped down my face like a teardrop. Another and another. Here comes the rain.
Lightning streaked the sky far away, followed by a rumble of thunder. It was coming hard and fast. I knew he would be drenched when he came back this way. And I silently waited. I watched the sky lighting up like the fireworks from the carnival that left town only last week. Summer is coming to an end. But the sultry hot days still beat down on me. I loved the evening hours. They provided some respite from the heat.
The lightning grew closer now, thunder booming distantly across the hills. Soon the storm would be right over head. The lightning would glance off of the iron fencing and send shivers up my spine. But I would stay. The rain washed over me making me feel clean and fresh. I waited for him to return. Maybe he'd see me this time. I preened, I fluffed my now soaking wet hair. And waited.
“Kitty, if you’re here come out? There’s a storm coming.”
His footfalls moved my way. He would turn the corner and come towards me anytime now. The next bolt of lightning flashed dangerously close to where I sat. My chest bloomed with the electricity of excitement. My turn to leave home. I'm the last one.
My breathing got harder, my heart raced and the blood pounded through my body with a sound that matched the thunder in the heavens. Surely he'd hear my heart beat when he came by this time? He would see me.
The sky lit up in a ferocious display of blue light as the clouds released more rain in a torrential downpour. Thunder and lightning warred for supremacy of the sky as I waited.
“Kitty, please come out now?”
He's almost here. The rain beat down so hard I couldn't make out his form. But I heard his boots hit the sidewalk as he headed my way.
Suddenly a bolt of blue light struck at my feet blistering hot in its rage and I jumped down, landing lightly on the cracked, decaying sidewalk in front of the mansion’s gates.
My rain drenched, multihued hair fell forward in a powdery spray around my face. I stood quickly and pushed it back, my green and brown eyes searching the darkness for him. Where was he? I no longer heard his footsteps. I couldn’t see him through the sheets of rain falling. What was wrong with my hearing? It seemed dull and muffled. I sniffed at the air and found my sense of smell also distorted. What happened? Did the bolt of lightning damaged me in some way?
“Are you okay Miss? Can I help you?”
Eye level with his chest, I looked up into his gray eyes. Desire blazed back at me. How did he get this close without me knowing? I started to shake violently, sick with fear. What’s happened to me?
“Miss, you’re drenched,” he said as he took his shirt off and pulled it over my head. “What happened to your clothes? Did you come from the mansion?”
He peered around me to the still locked gates of my home. I needed to get back inside. Fast. I just dumbly stared at his now naked chest which dripped with rivulets of water that ran from his own wet hair.
The rain stopped altogether, as though a stopper had been placed in the quickly disappearing clouds. The stars blinked in the now clear sky and the full moon glared bright.
“Miss?” He waited for my answer.
“I need to go back.” My reply so quiet, I didn’t hear myself speak.
I pointed up to my seat, my high up perch by the gates.
“This is a bad storm. I’m sure the damage can be repaired. How do you get inside? I’ll help you.”
“I’ve never been out before, I don’t know.” Tears began to slide down my face so rapidly I thought it rained again. How could this be repaired?
“Come on, let’s try the lock.”
He pulled me along behind him to the gates. Where's the key? How would I get back in?
He tugged at the rusted lock on the gate and it dropped open with a clank. He put his hand on the small of my back and ushered me through the opening. He turned to close the gate back, leaving the lock hang loosely through the hook. I saw his eyes dart to the pillar. My blood ran hot with an unknown feeling.
“Come on, we’ll get you out of that wet shirt. Running naked in the rain can have its disadvantages. And it’s not making things easy for me right now.”
I saw him smile at me, his need bare in his eyes. How did I look to him?
“I would love to paint you. Especially your hair. You’re a vision. Maybe I’m dreaming this because I thought I saw... Well, never mind. I’m just imagining things in the storm and all.”
He continued to look me over, talking all the way up the lane to the front of the mansion. He seemed really nervous about something. He said his cat disappeared last week. He believed it was on the mansion grounds and he had tried to find a way in for days. He said he never thought to check the lock on the gate. He hoped I wouldn’t mind if he looked for his cat while here.
I couldn’t think right now. I wondered how to get back into my home. There must be a key somewhere. When we reached the top step, he turned the knob and the door creaked open.
“Good thing you didn’t lock yourself out.”
He still smiled at me with lips I wanted to taste. What's happening to me? The lines around his eyes were crinkled with humor at my being caught naked in the rain.
“Will you be okay? I’m going to look for Kitty. If you like, I’ll stop back to make sure you’re alright.”
I nodded. He left me at the door and went in search of his cat. The grounds were sprawling and overgrown. And so many cats. He would be a long time returning.
I walked into the pitch black hallway, but I could see. I moved slowly into the room on the left. My bare feet slapped softly on the wooden floor. There were lots of things covered with large white cloths. What would I do now?
I saw a shiny flat surface against one of the walls and walked over to it. My breath caught in my throat at the sight there. I wore only his shirt and it dropped down to the middle of my thighs. Strong, shapely legs. I lifted the shirt and was struck by how perfect and proud my breast looked with nipples that stood out darkly against my walnut brown skin. My sister said I would have a brown and a green eye, so they didn’t shock me.
I knew the color of my hair. It was long with ringlets reaching my waist. The lighter, almost white streaks, blended well with the soft reds and browns. I had a hard, flat stomach. I resembled the women that passed my way often during the daylight hours going to the nearby park. In fact, I looked better. Curvy, not stick straight like so many of them were. Now I knew why he looked at me with desire. Heat curled through my body as I thought about him. Wetness developed between my legs.
Maybe I could find some clue about my sister, Tabitha. She's the only one who could help me now.
I heard his boots coming up the front steps and my heart began to beat rapidly. What should I do now?
“Hey, you didn’t turn on any lights.”
He flicked at the switch but nothing happened. He walked over to the uncovered table where I stood, totally naked again.
“Hey, here’s a candle and some matches.”
He struck the match and fire sprang to life. I jumped back in fear.
“You must be in shock from your fall from the fence. Come over here.”
He walked me to one of the seats in the room and pulled the white cloth off. He wrapped it around me and sat me down. It was much softer than where I usually sat.
“What’s your name?”
I whispered. Cali
“Where’s your family?”
“My sister and I are the only ones left. I don’t know where she is. She left last year.” I didn’t add in a storm just like the one tonight.
“Well, let’s see if we can find you some clothes. Can’t have you running around naked. You’re just a little too enticing for that.”
I saw his eyes light again with desire for me. His breathing changed too. Could he smell my desire?
“Did you… find your cat? There are so many here.”
“No, but she’ll come back. She always does.” He smiled again.
“Look, I don’t live far. We could go to my place and get you into some warm clothes. We won’t be able to see anything here in the dark.
“NO! I’ll be fine.” My voice sounded loud with panic.
“Okay, okay. I didn’t mean to upset you,
.” He turned to leave, but looked back.
“You shouldn’t be alone. I’ll stop back tomorrow and see how you’re doing… if
that’s okay.” Cali
His look told me he wanted to stay and I wanted him to but I just nodded. He left the room and I heard the front door close quietly behind him. I forgot to ask his name. Tired and frightened, I curled up in the chair to take a nap.
I woke up to the sound of the front door closing softly. I knew it was him. The sun shined dimly through the dirt streaked windowpanes of the room. How long had I slept? Was it morning or noon? I couldn’t see the position of the sun from here.
He entered the room with a bag in his arms.
“Hope you don’t mind. I knocked but you didn’t hear me. I wanted to make sure you were alright. I brought some milk and donuts. Are you hungry?”
I nodded. Still frightened, I wasn’t sure what to say or do.
“Hey, don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Probably just the bump on your head. I'll take a look at the damage out front later, but there’s something missing.”
He seemed nervous again and he wouldn’t look me in the eyes. He put the bag down on the table and pulled out two cups and filled them both with milk.
He handed one in my direction and I practically took his hand off reaching for it. Milk. Smelled so good.
“You must be really thirsty.”
Suddenly the front door flew open and Tabby rushed into the room.
I knew it. I felt it last night. You’ve found him.” Cali
I saw the surprise in his eyes at my sister's appearance.
fell off the fence last night and she bumped her head pretty bad,” he said. “We
haven’t had time for introductions yet. My name’s Reece.” Cali
At a sound behind Tabitha, I noticed the handsome blond whom I hadn’t seen enter the room. I remembered him from the storm last year. When Tabby left.
“Hi, I’m Jake, Tabby’s husband.” Jake looked a little flustered as he spoke. “Reece, there’s something Tabitha and I need to tell you. It has to do with all the cats on the property…”
“Yeah, I know. My cat’s out there somewhere. Kitty disappears in here every now and then. She’s a beautiful little calico.” Reece kept stealing looks in my direction. He looked at my hair.
“Well, you see… umm, I lost my cat here last year…” Jake looked at Tabby as he talked to Reece. “Did you notice anything weird in the storm last night?”
“There's some damage done to one of the pillars at the front gate. I wanted to repair it this morning but I can’t find a piece. I’ve seen it every time I come by, but after
fell last night, I noticed it missing.” Cali
“This is going to come as a surprise Reece…”
Reece turned to look at me. He examined me as though I was under a microscope. His eyes again took in the color of my hair, my eyes.
“I thought I imagined it? This is real isn’t it?”
Reece stared at me as he talked in a whisper. I could see he knew the truth now.
“I came up the sidewalk when the lightning struck the pillar and I… I… thought about it all night. I couldn’t believe what I saw. But that’s why I can’t find it.”
My sister and Jake stayed quiet, letting him come to the answer in his own way.
“It wasn’t my imagination. All night I kept going over what I saw in my mind. I've felt drawn to this place for weeks now, so has my cat. I looked at that statue every night. I’ve wanted to touch it. I even wanted to take it home with me and paint the colors back.” Reece continued to look at me.
you’re the reason why. You’re the statue of… the cat.” Cali
Tabby and Jake smiled.
“I didn’t know that you ever saw me sitting there,” I said.
“I noticed you every time. And it was you I looked at each time,
not the cat. And I’ve always wanted you. Your hair is just as I always imagined
it—so many colors. It’s as though you were made just for me.” Cali
“I’ll help you find Kitty so you can take her home.” Being alive felt so good. And since I was the last, the mansion belonged to me now. But would Reece want to stay here?
I watched silently as he walked towards me. He pulled me from the chair and wrapped me tightly in his arms. He ran his fingers through my colorful curls and tugged them gently.
We would have the rest of our lives to get to know each other.
Reece whispered in my ear. “Kitty’s already home.”
Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-J. Hali Steele