It was the weekend, and Saturday dawned with rain.
There was no point in getting up at six; Sarah could hear the rain pelting off the slope of the roof above her bedroom. The light was not yet bright enough for her to see where the edge of her bed ended and the floor began, and the sound of the rain included a crunchy clink now and then that suggested that the rain was freezing as well as wet. The day would be an indoor day, with house cleaning as her activity, and cooking stew to serve as her meals at lunch time for the next week. Nothing like a long and lonely Saturday, she thought, and rolled over, dragging her cotton "safety" blanket over her head to keep feeling warm.
Lonely, her drifting mind echoed. I'm lonely.
Certainly she was not worried about being alone because her income supported her well enough and she needed no mate to add to her household bank account. Am I really lonely? she thought, shifting her pillows. Lonely for what?
At ten, she shifted off the bed woozily, drunk with sleep. I have to go get veggies for my stew, and some bread, she thought. Shower. I have to shower before I get food.
She showered, trying to soak up some energy from the hot water that spilled on her head and shoulders. Afterwards, the hair dryer added some warmth that, in turn, propelled her towards finding clothes for the outside world instead of yet another set of pajamas.
Looking at her watch, Sarah realized she would not have time to make stew for lunch; stew required time and simmering to be good. Green. Green food, she thought. Pasta with veggies, she considered. It doesn't even have to be a stew. It could be a stir-fry. Re-energized by the thought of the taste of sunshine in crisp vegetables, she pulled on winter boots of suede and fleece, a jacket, and drove to the supermarket to see what was available to assuage her hunger.
There was a big box set up beside a bundled-up woman in a lawn chair by one of the two front doors. Sarah went to the far door, not interested in yet another moron's bid to sell pit bull puppies. Once inside the store, she purchased a package of lean beef, a small loaf of sourdough bread, some snow peas, some asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, and a zucchini.
Drooling discreetly about her purchases and how they would shortly become one with her, Sarah exited the door of the supermarket by the woman with the cut-down dishwasher box; looking sideways at the box she saw a litter of kittens, gray and stripey, with white faces and feet.
All but one, whose feet were gray, whose face was gray and somber, and who, spying her, stopped playing with his litter-mates, stood up on his hind feet and called to her with a tiny squeeing sound, his feet pawing at the side of the cardboard box.
Her heart fell out onto the pavement with a "splurtch" sound in her psyche. Oh, no, I'm falling in love with a cat, she thought. What does a cat want with me?
As she reached out toward the kitten with her left hand, the little animal pawed toward her with his right front paw, his tiny claws hooking her -- gently! -- his yellow eyes locked with hers.
He's so gray, and so determined, she thought, as she let him draw her hand to his face and felt his rough tongue tasting her. Her fate was sealed as he renewed his grip on her hand and rubbed his face, his eyelids, his ears against her. She straightened up, gently withdrawing her hand from his grasp.
He cried aloud again as they parted, his eyes searching her face.
"Don't let anyone take him," Sarah told the woman in the lawn chair. "I just need a couple things, and then I want him."
"He's a cutie," said the woman in the chair. "And he's yours."
Sarah went back into the store. He's mine, she thought, as she dragged a litter box from the top shelf in the pet department. The number of brands of cat food perplexed her as she read labels, worrying already about protein content and vitamins. What is his name? What does he like to eat? What am I waiting for when he's out in the cold waiting for me? She scooped cans of kitten food from the shelves, and a bag of dried kitten food crashed into her cart. A package of four catnip mice, with velour bodies and feather tails followed. Sarah pushed her cart to the checkout with a hurried purpose.
After the bagging and the payment were done, Sarah took the accommodations to her car, and then returned to the cardboard box beside the door. A woman in a green wool suit was picking up the little tom, saying, "Oh, this guy's a sweetheart. I could just take him home."
The kitten, bending in her hands as if in discomfort, reached out with a paw and scratched her nose and upper lip as she held him close to her face.
"Oh, oh, maybe not!" she cried, putting the little cat back in the big box with his siblings. She walked away, feeling her lips with fingers and tissues.
The woman in the lawn chair smiled at Sarah, her face crinkling, nose and cheeks red with the cold air. "That one wasn't going anywhere except with his new mama," she laughed. She picked the kitten up and handed him to Sarah.
For a split second Sarah hesitated, wondering if she was going insane. What if the little guy clawed her, too? She took the small cat in her hands and brought him close to her chest. His fur was slightly fluffed out against the damp air, and he immediately nestled against Sarah's sweater. In a second or two, Sarah could feel the vibration of his purr in the vicinity of her heart.
Yep, I'm insane, she thought, thanking the woman in the lawn chair. She walked to her car, chuckling as the kitten butted her chin with his head. She zipped the front of her jacket over him, and drove home with the kitten purring against the top of her belly.
Back home, she unloaded the car one-handedly, the other hand supporting the soft burden within her jacket. Insane, she mused, but not lonely. Not any more.