First stop of the day was the feed store. Bethany paid religious attention to her animals' diet. A year ago she'd lost her first Arab to colic. It was a dreadful time, seeing that her personal life, too, was collapsing all around her. Kalila had been eating too much grain all along they figured. She was prone to intestinal ailments anyway, always had difficult menstruations, and had taken advantage of an open gate to stuff herself with sweet feed. She died in the night, before they could even get her to the vet.
Bethany wished her horses could subsist on forage, that she had the space to just turn them loose for fifteen hours a day, but that was not the case. The dream of a real ranch, a dream that she thought she shared with Benvolio, would now probably never come to be. The animals were as trapped in her imperfect little world as she was.
Bethany no sooner opened the door than she saw her: the most darling kitten imaginable. Main Coon Kittens read the hand-lettered sign in a child’s best printing. Free to a god home.
--Oh my God! said Bethany.
--Isn’t she cute? said Marion, who’d given away hundreds of critters over the years. Last one, Beth. Better grab her fast.
--Her brothers and sisters went like Rooty Tooties Fresh n Fruities yesterday and first thing this morning.
--Aw…poor baby…all alone in the world then. Yes….
Bethany scooped the tiny thing up, held her close.
--She’s runty but healthy I’d say, huh? said Marion.
The cat’s eyes were clear and alert. She mewed mightily.
--Yes! Take me home she says said Bethany.
She had striking tiger-markings on her legs, a beautiful face with a distinctive “M” shape on her forehead, tufted lynx-like ears, the baby beginnings of a kind of mane, and a bushy ringed tail.
--Better buy extra feed said Marion. They say they’ll grow to 25 pounds, the males.
--Yes! A tiger cat! Just what Bethany needs for Temaraire. A great big ole tiger kitty, yes!
The idea seemed to resonate with the cat. She repeated her odd little vocalizing, louder this time, a cross between a purr, a meow, and something vaguely primordial.
--This the Judkins’s cat said Marion. They say they don’t know about her daddy, but her momma’s for sure Maine Coon. She fetches, likes water, comes when she’s called. They say she’s more like a dog.
--Well dogs we have plenty of said Bethany. But we needs cats! Yes we do! We needs this pretty little kitty!
--Price is right said Marion, and Marv was in early this morning and’s already expecting half the litter in for shots. He’ll probably give you a deal just on volume, you think?
--Oh, Marv, said Bethany with exaggerated disdain. I won’t tell you the deals he’s offered me over the years.
She tossed a significant and sisterly glance Marion’s way.
--House calls, huh?
--Day and night, he let it be known. Bethany set the kitten on the counter between them. You know, with my vet bills, it might be time to reconsider.
--Now Sweetheart, said Marion, you just hold out. It’s too soon for you to be getting desperate.
--Give me four bails of timothy and some beet pulp, would you Mar? And…yes! Noisy little kitty! Dry food and a flat of wet. Plus we have some delicious salmon for tonight! I bet you’ll like that, huh noisy cat?
--Mirgneeaw! went the newest addition to the queendom of Temeraire.
Next: Lemonade and Consequences
Intruso, an occasionally cute little postmodern love story
- Her voice was shiny
- Timed Writing
- On Location
- In the Beginning was Rock n Roll
- Cell Phone Interruptus
- The Hooch
- Blackbirds at One O'Clock
- Probiotics and the Muse
- Email by Rodney Strong
- Dope and Flax Seed
- Free to a God Home
- Lemonade and Consequences