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"In the Country"

by Laura K Zielinski about a year ago in fact or fiction
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A second life awaits beyond the pain

Even the countryside is petrifying for females. Stories of women being broken seem to be confined to the cities. They are not. The local news stations and channels should come take the 20-minute trip from the closest city terrain to where I live “in the country” as my owner’s friend, Miguel, would say. He is Guatemalan, but Los Angeles is what he has known most of his life. I’ve pick up a lot of information just laying around and being present.

“In the country”, you feel the breeze rustle your orange, black, and white fur. You can get away with a lighter coat without someone commenting every couple of minutes about your appearance. Usually, I get no comments, but the humans can be so cruel to each other. If you grew up “in the country”, you may be more in touch with life. It is slower out here. We either catch or produce what we need to live. We are the boss of our life. You do not fathom this illusion until you realize there are people who think they are the boss of you, and it’s no longer “the country” that Miguel was talking about.

On September 16th, my parents, city dwellers, couldn’t handle my nuisance any longer and they drove me out to “the country” to live with my new foster parents. I was alarmed easily over their flaming and smoking fights, cried myself speechless after being locked outside the house all day, and feared the next time they would blow up so much so that even whipping open a plastic grocery bag left me hiding in my room with frantic saucer eyes. They could hardly handle the strained between themselves. They did not want me anymore. It was a plain fact seeing as they pulled into the back drive of the foster people’s farm, told me to get out, and drove off as I pondered which was my new home. Was it the metal stable to my left or the brick house ahead down the long hilly driveway? A weeping white pine blocked my view of a portion of the house, yet it seemed more inviting than the rust dripping off the stable.

I went towards the house and saw another structure to my right as I dawdled down the driveway. House to the left or open-faced stone garage to the right? I was not ready to meet the new “mom and dad” so I went right.

In the hodgepodge garage nearly 30 feet long, I found a brick platform in the nearest corner next to an open window under which there were shelves of planter pots. A long, wrought iron firewood holder closed off the third side of the platform and a bunch of junk made a wall to hide me from the view of the car parked in front of this little room, headlights pointing at me. No one was there. They must be inside churning butter or maybe they are not that far into the process and are still at the stable or pastures getting the milk.

I decided that I would stay there for now. Within a week of garage living, the foster people found me. They did not “shoo” me away, but coaxed me to live in the house. I would not. They brought me wrapped meals and one day after pacing around the farm I returned to find a proper bed in my garage cubicle.

For nearly two months, I lived like this. Distanced and cautious. Trusting in humans had hurt me. I would rather risk being a little too cold outside than possibly being hurt or neglected by them again. I was free from the control of people. I did what and went where I wanted now.

In the month of January, the walks around the farm became stiffer. I did not run around as much from field to field. My energy had to be conserved for heating myself. In some walks, I noticed a boy, maybe my age, watching me from the stable. Was he a helper of the farmer people? Related to them?

February 10th, I discovered who he was. I was walking up the long, inclined driveway to the vermilion rusted stable, hoping that I could at least find a snack among the straw. The property owners had forgotten to bring me food that morning. There was light snow on the grass so it was not the ideal hunting season, nonetheless, I knew how to hunt. A fearless feline—snap!

I inhaled sharply and froze in my gait. I waited a full minute to hear it again. Anything. I could sense something was nearby, but which direction did I turn to find it?

I sniffed softly to not disturb the silence. There was no trance of the lurker’s adrenaline. The light breeze blew southeast giving little information except that the animal was not in the direction that the wind came.

Ohhh, I whined inside. What are you? Mouse? Squirrel? Bird? Groundhog? I shuddered at the last one. They owned a vile taste.

As I stood as a statue, a form appeared to my peripheral left from behind the Norway Maple stump. About 5-foot-tall and 4 feet in diameter with weathered furrows in which the lichen hid and danced in blue, yellow, and green fashion. It was a figure like mine. Well, slightly larger. Cat-like. I could make out the general shape through the brilliant, blinding sun.

It came near me slowly from about 15 feet away. I pretended I did not see it and crept towards the empty stable. But as soon as my pads had left the stone driveway and touched the mottled grass covering the front bank of the abandoned shelter, he lunged at me.

There was no other thought for what seemed like an eternity in only a blip of time other than: escape if you want to live. He pursued me three times around the shelter, faking and speeding up to confuse me. The third time around I felt the heaviness of his body on my back. We tumbled down the bank to the top of the stone driveway.

Claws were flying. He slashed through the top of my right ear. It was a distraction as he went for my right hind leg. Fur was ripped out to reach my skin. Blood began to accent my white patches. I hissed, but he became more aggressive, biting at my abdomen. A paw swooped down upon my head, claws fully extended. I was stunned. He bit deeper at my abdomen opening the area where cats gather a pouch. In a second, I had no movement from the pain. My bladder was torn open. Other than a few hisses, he was done, and left me to die.

He was the psycho-owner of the stable. He had only watched me to see if I would enter his territory.

The sky lightened from a howlite stone blue and then began taking on gray tones. It would be my last night. What was the last meal I had eaten? A chicken? At least I had eaten it well.

Bright lights flickered on from the side of the dilapidated stone garage. They barely hit me. My vision was weak, but I could hear footsteps. What now? Round two? Just make it quick.

I heard gasping and yelling. As quick as they had come, the animal had left. The sky finalized its dark blue obsidian spotted with white. I heard the footsteps again. Noises. A language I did not know. Bright lights on me. Something held my head up and I close my eyes to avoid the strong light.

I woke up in a place unknown the next day. There was no grass, no trees, no sky, no wind,…I had died and gone to…human land? It looked too well organized to be anything else. The sides that boxed me in were textured gray. There was a sun above. Usually there were multiple suns. I saw a blue sun once. I lay on an elevated surface.

Something moved quickly my way and as I turned my head I felt the ache of the fight. Was I alive? It was a human. She stood in front of a tall thing next to where I lay. The top of it had red figures that moved. A clear snake came out from the side of it. I followed it with my eyes stopping at my paw, which it had bitten.

My head was scratched gently to take the nervous edge off. I couldn’t have died. I’m feeling too much. I looked down to my belly and saw blood stains, but no open wound.

Then I heard a familiar voice. "Macy!" Who was that again? It was like the psycho had also taken part of my memory in the fight. My previous owners would not have cared to show up. It had to be the farmers. They often called me some perky name. More head scratches. I fell asleep.

Once again, I woke in a new place. It was damp and there was dirt on the ground. One sun above me, and lots of immobile, skinny snakes coming out of the top barrier. There was stuff everywhere. I was in a double bed with water and food within reaching distance. I could move only to the two bowls, but not much else. For nearly two months, I lived like this.

Until one day, I was brought to a new room. A new bed. A new sun with eight small suns in a circle around it. A new male cat. He was black and white. I shied away, absolutely terrified. I would never trust a male again.

I remembered the event even when that black and white male cat suddenly disappeared one day. To this day, I hiss at and fight off the two new males that were brought in. They mess with me sometimes and the horror flashes before my eyes. They’re feral just like I was. I’m old now without the means to properly defend myself. My owners are not always around to deter the bratty boy cats, but when they are, I enjoy seeing the boys scurry and slither with panic. My farmer owners have restored my faith that humans can be good. I can trust them to let me live a better life. A second life.

fact or fiction

About the author

Laura K Zielinski

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