Her misty green eyes slowly opened, her pupils expanding as they changed to the darkness around her. Dots of light shone through tiny holes in the wall. Her mind, slowly adjusting itself from the fog, shaking her head in an attempt to clear it. Where am I? She finally gathered the strength to lift her head,
"Mom?" She let out a sound. It was weak, tired from this weighted feeling that consumed her body. She lifted one leg gently, feeling the not too hard, not too soft texture beneath her as she tried to stand. She stumbled forwards into the brown textured floor beneath her.
"Hey! Hello?" She called again, louder this time. Why is it so hard to stand? Her tiny legs moved in front of her, one before the other, slipping, trying to gain traction as the world around her seemed to vibrate and shift faster than she could stand. “Mom! Where are you?” She cried as her tiny legs collapsed beneath her. This time, a voice responded,
"Ssshhh, don't worry Little One, you'll be home soon." The Voice was soothing; it didn't feel dangerous. She could hear The Voice from above her, Little One raised her head to see a small line of light shining through a small crack in the ceiling.
"Where's my mom? Where are my brothers and my sisters? Where's the grass? Where's my home?" Little One called out questions incessantly, the stress straining her throat. There was a trilling of a phone sounding from above her. She heard The Voice talking again,
"Hey! Yeah, it's me. No, everything is fine! I just, she won't stop crying, I don't know what to do. I don't know how to fix it. Okay, no, we're almost there. No, I don't know where my sister got her. She's so tiny that I don't know what else to do with her other than bringing her to you. I wouldn't even know where her home is to take her back." There was a pause as The Voice listened over the phone. "Okay, yeah, she's safe here with me. She's still in the box I found her in, yes, the one wrapped in paper. I mean, I at least punched holes in it. I didn't even know what this box was when I saw it sitting in the corner of the closet. I know it sounds suspicious. That's why I tried to figure out what was inside—what's the deal with the third degree anyways?" The sound of the two voices could be heard from the other side of the walls enclosing Little One. Finally, the conversation ended, "Okay Little One, let's get you to a place where you can be happy again."
Once more, the rustling noise Little One heard earlier made its appearance above her. She stretched up to try and reach it,
"Hey! Listen! I'm sorry I ran too far, I know my mom told me not to, I just wanted to win! I'm sorry! Please take me back to her! She's going to be home soon and I need to get back to the garden!" Little One's voice trailed together in a panic.
"I know you're scared, but you'll be safe soon. I'm taking you to my friend. You're going to be safe there, a place where you can grow up happy." The Voice responded gently. Little One wobbled over to the lights in the wall; her eyes peered through. A person! Is that The Voice? He was sitting, his arms stretched in front of him, gripping a strange wheel. There was a black strap across his chest, secured inside something square. To the right, a stick protruded out, a weird-looking rod with a rounded off square-shaped top. There were lights and shapes in a line at the base of the rod: P R N D L. Little One plopped down, breathing out a sigh. She was tired and lost. Her eyelids felt heavy, the low vibrations coming from beneath her soothed her into a much-needed rest.
Little One’s eyes opened once more, this time, to see a familiar landscape, a bright, dream-like haze filling the sky. One she had seen before. She was surrounded by a sea of green grass spreading out towards her familiar home. The tall grass blades brushing up against her legs and tickling her chin as she ran towards the sound of her mother calling her name.
"Coming mama!" Little One called as the distance between her and her mother decreased with each bounding step. A large garden protruded from out of the side of a brick house. It was flush with towering boxwood bushes, blooming Black-Eyed Susan's, Bee Balm plants, Golden Rod's, and Purple Coneflowers. All of these were encased by an edge of yellow and orange Marigolds. Little One ducked beneath them to find her mother curled up with her siblings.
“Where were you, Little One?” Mama’s narrow eyes thin with suspicion. “Were you going to the road again? I told you not to go there.”
"Mama! I don't even know what a road is! So how can I go there if I don't know what it is?" Little One gave her mother a kiss on the cheek, settling in next to her siblings. The siblings all scuffled about amongst themselves, showing off their prowess and skills to one another in the form of roughhousing. Little One and her mother watched from the sidelines, chatting between each other,
"You're getting big now, you know that my Little One? Soon you and your siblings will be able to live on your own and take care of yourselves." Mama smiled down at her daughter.
"But Mama, I'll miss you. I don't want to leave." Little One protested.
"Oh my sweet girl, I know you will, but I will miss you more. Part of being a mama is watching her children grow, you know that? Besides," she said as she stood up, "we don't get to decide when you're grown up; that's something life shows us." Mama gathered herself together and moved towards the entrance of their garden home. "Alright my babies, I need to go get us supper tonight. All of you need to stay here until I get back. No leaving the garden until I return. Okay?" The siblings all agreed in unison and returned to their roughhousing once their mother slipped away into the outside world.
Little One being the smallest one of her siblings, she couldn't quite keep up with the others. She wasn't as big as them, not as strong. One thing she was good at, however, was speed.
"Who wants to race?!" She piped up, trying to raise her voice above the sound of her siblings' roughhousing.
“We can’t leave until mom gets home!” One of her sisters said.
“Yeah! Mom said we’re not allowed!” Squealed her brother. Little One wanted to play, but she needed to level the playing field as she knew she wouldn’t win against her siblings in anything other than a race.
"Mom won't know if we're fast enough! Come on! If we all go together, we can be back in time, and mom won't even notice! Are you guys just saying no because you know I'll win?" She eyed her siblings, knowing she had said just the right thing to get them to join the race. Before Little One could say another word, her siblings raced past her, out past the marigolds, and into the field.
A heavy motion shifted the room around her, startling Little One awake. She was back in the darkened room with the speckles of light poking through each hole. "Woah! Sorry about that Little One! We hit a bump on the road, hope you're okay in there." The Voice said from outside the room. A hole in the road? Is that how I got here? The road! Oh no, I must have gotten too close! Mama warned me…
"But you're in luck! we're almost to your new home." Home? Thought Little One. She scurried over to the side of the wall, peering through the holes. She tried to see this new home, but she couldn't see anything outside of this wall. Then, the room stopped vibrating below her. She could feel it. The room was still. The sound of a door opening and closing, a pause, and suddenly a door next to her opened, when the room started moving in all directions.
"Hey! You made it! Is that the box she's in?" A new voice said.
"Yeah, she's just in here. Where should I set it down?" The original Voice asked.
"Just over here, to the backyard, come on. I've got it all set up out on the patio. A 'cat-io' if you will." The other voice said with a twinge of humor.
Little One tried peering through the holes as her world swayed along with each step as she was carried in her box. She saw all the fittings of the house she knew yet, all unfamiliar to her at the same time. She watched the outside world change as she was carried inside the house, furniture, a ground that looked strange with no grass. Finally, she was set down, back into the outside world. Above her, the thin slit of light opened up to reveal the bright blue sky and golden sunlight flooding in. Little One's eyes closed just before a set of hands reached in and wrapped around her.
"Oh, what a beautiful kitten you are! I love her markings, the gray, the white, and the golden patches. She's a little tortoiseshell!" The other voice said. "I haven't seen a color pattern like hers before. Usually, they're black and gold patches?" Little One looked up into the face of the person holding her. The brown hair reflected kindly under the afternoon sun, her deep brown eyes full of kindness and love. Little One looked around at her new surroundings. They were on a gray stone patio, surrounded by lush green grass and a colorful garden. It was at the edge of this where Little One saw something familiar, something from home. She squirmed and squealed with excitement until the Girl placed her gently on the ground. Little One raced over to the bright-colored marigolds and batted at them playfully.
"I think she likes them!" The Voice exclaimed. The Girl agreed, "I think she does too! It's amazing how little she is, her paws especially. They're so tiny." Little One looked over at the two humans. She raced back over to the girl, her heart feeling warm and safe. "I think that's a good name for you. What do you think, Tiny Paw?" The little kitten, with her new name, replied the only way she knew how, and with the tiniest meow, she said, "I think so too. I think I found my home."