The wind took her breath away and burned her skin. It was the perfect mental confetti for the Pity Party she was throwing herself. But if she'd had a say in the matter, her Pity Party would've been in an oversized chair with a box of dark chocolate in her lap; certainly not walking in the dark, cold night.

"Damn phone," she thought. "Only works in the drive thru at Taco Bueno, not when I really need it." She spotted a little kitty shivering under a dried-out bush. "Sorry little kitty," she said, more to herself than the nameless cat.

"It doesn't get any easier. At least you don't have to live 70 or 80 years." She bought gloves when she paid for the gas. She was always losing her damn gloves. Gloves would keep some of the wind's hatefulness from assaulting her skin on the way back to the car. She couldn't help checking to see if Kitty was still there. He was.

"At least I do have someplace to go," she thought. "Where's your mama?" She asked Kitty. He blinked, but didn't answer. She looked at her watch. "I'm going to miss 'Ally'," she moaned. "Figures."

Living alone had its advantages: once she got home she could take off the mask she wore in public. Alone at home she could get lost in television and chocolate. But tonight, it would've been nice to lay in someone's arms and whine about running out of gas with a dead cell phone and wind that took her breath away.

She walked in the house just in time to see Ally McBeal crying hopelessly over what looked to be the lifeless body of amore' Billy. "Damn it!" She thought for the umpteenth time in the last two hours. "What'd I miss?" Billy was to Ally what Some Man in the Past is to most women. That impossible love that just won't let go of a piece of your soul. "Why did they have to kill off Billy?" she sniffed. And why was she crying like it was real, for heaven's sake?

She reached for more tissue and another chunk of chocolate. The thing about television and chocolate, they require nothing from you. But then again, they also don't hold you and listen to you whine. She got online, checked her e-mail, and logged off, ignoring an instant message from her brother. She didn't feel like conversing tonight. Sleep was her only interest right then.

Her head had barely made contact with her pillow when her eyes flew open. She could've sworn she heard a cat! She didn't have a cat! She didn't even like cats! But, there it was again! She made herself sit up in the bed, knowing she wasn't going to be able to sleep if she didn't identify where the tiny meow was coming from.

She peeked out the window. She could still hear it, but she couldn't see it. "I am not going out in that cold again!" she announced to herself. But it wouldn't hurt to open the door.

As if carried by the wind, the little nameless kitty from three miles away scampered past her bare feet. She couldn't believe it. How did that kitten come all this way and ---but there it was! She cracked up laughing, there in the cold open doorway, in her bare feet. "Little kitty, how did you get here?"

This time he blinked but answered, "meow!" He lowered his tiny bottom to the floor and stared up at her. "Meow," he repeated. Now what was she to do? Put him out---? No, not in this bitter wind. But he would want to eat--and potty, no doubt. He obviously was feeling more comfortable, for he had already started dragging his teeny tongue across his golden coat.

She sighed and slipped on some jeans. What choice did she have? He was bound to be hungry. She chuckled at herself as she walked the pet isle, picking up toys and treats and bedding. And yes, he needs one of those scratching posts."It's just a stupid cat," she thought. "You don't even LIKE cats."

When she got home, it gratified her to see him sitting in the window, patiently (she guessed) waiting for her return. "I'm coming you silly thing, I'm coming.' He was right at her feet as she unloaded his loot. She imagined he was thinking he had made the right decision to following her here. How did he do that, anyway?

She petted him and scratched behind his ears while he ate. When he finished, she introduced him to his potty box, then to his new bed, which she had lined in soft lamb's fur. "Not bad for a homeless critter," she thought. She shed her clothes and crawled back under the covers, taking one last peek at Kitty.

For the first time in weeks, she felt all was well. But that made her start thinking about all that wasn't well, and she began to whimper, then cry, then out-and-out weep. She knew it was silly, but she couldn't stop. She was so wrapped up in her renewed self-pity, it took her a moment to feel the light pressure move up her body, from her feet to her thighs to her waist then to her neck.

Kitty curled up in the crook of her neck and began to purr, loudly. All it had taken to please this cat was giving him a smidgen of everything she took for granted. A warm house, a little dinner, and a soft bed. It made her smile, and she rubbed her face in his fur.

It was then that she realized that when you have someone to hold, your need to whine drifts out the window. Tomorrow was still out there, but right now, this moment, she and kitty had found a home.

Copyright © 2000 Nancy B. Jernigan --- All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole is permitted with permission from the author.

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