Growing up, I had all I needed and then some. The old man I lived with was the jolly type who would chat with me often. He talked to me about all kinds of things - mostly about how I was doing. He called me Fiona. His love, like our home, was warm and comfortable. I liked it there. These are now memories from a distant past. My life changed when one day, he didn’t return home.
I heard a loud thud from the feeding room and went to investigate. The old man had just awoken a short while ago but was already going asleep again? I thought that was really unusual, especially since he wasn’t in the sleeping room. Then I noticed that it seemed like he was in pain. I asked him what was wrong and told him he should go back to the sleeping room if he was still tired. I don’t think he heard me; he kept talking to the voice on his collar. Was he asking for help? Pretty soon, a group from the vet came in and rushed to his side. Their feet scared me and I had to run to get out of their way. They moved quickly. Eventually, they picked him up and laid him on a strange bed with wheels.
The chaos subsided immediately and I was left alone. I quickly realized that he hadn’t refilled my food yet that morning. Would he be back soon? Sometime later, I heard someone at the door. Excited and hungry, I ran to greet the old man again – but it wasn’t the old man. It was a woman who has visited us before. The old man always seemed happy whenever she was here. I asked her when the old man would return. I don't think she understood me like he did. Instead, she just refilled my food (which I was grateful for) and pet me a bit before heading back out.
Several days quietly went by like this, until one day, she retrieved the plastic box the old man used to take me to the vet. I’m small, so she easily overpowered me to get me inside it. She disappeared around the corner and I listened intently while she walked from room to room. I heard the crinkle of my favorite toy, the soft shuffle of my blanket, the tumble of my food, and an assortment of other noises. I watched her carry a paper box outside after a short time. When she came back in, she approached me. Suddenly, the ground dropped. A rush of hot air outside flooded my senses and gave me a fright. I told her that I was scared. She spoke sweetly to me like usual, but she seemed sad.
On our way to the vet, I asked her all kinds of things like, “Is the old man there?” and “Are you sure you’re not lost?” because it was taking longer than usual to get there. You can imagine my surprise when we arrived at a place I had never seen before. Nothing smelled familiar and I became scared again. A strange man with very dark hair emerged from inside. They talked for a little bit, but my focus was elsewhere. There were many things to take in. I was startled when the strange man’s face appeared in front of me. I asked him who he was. Like the woman, he didn’t seem to know what I was asking. I really wished the old man was there to help.
Before I knew it, I was taken inside and the woman was gone. I watched the man open my box and I carefully crept out. “Where am I?” I thought. As quickly as I could, I ran. I ran along the wall through two rooms, down some steps, across the cold and rough ground, and through another doorway until I finally found something I recognized. It looked just like what the old man slept on at night. I darted underneath and hunkered down against the furthest the wall. Frightened and overwhelmed, I just wanted to go back home and see the old man.
I remained under there while that man was around. He seemed younger than the old man but much quieter. He mostly just shuffled around and rested when he was there. He came and went a lot more frequently than the old man did. He was gone for many hours most days. Whenever he was gone, I would carefully explore. My food, water, and litter were all there and kept fresh. I found my toys and blanket, too. They still smelled like the old man and home. I worried that he wouldn’t be able to find me now in this new place.
Just as I was starting to get used to this new environment, terror struck again. Two little girls burst inside and stomped down the steps straight away. I squished myself tighter against the wall in my hiding spot as their faces appeared. They beckoned me but I wouldn’t budge. They soon left me alone after the man said something from upstairs. I later learned that those girls returned every other weekend. As time went on, I got used to them and their ruckus. I began to accept this new little family of mine since they treated me well. I no longer had anything to be frightened of – Except that sharp clapping noise the man makes when I’m focused on sniffing something! That scares the catnip out of me!
It's been about 9 years or so since I've seen the old man. I don’t feel sad about it anymore. I just hope he’s happy and safe like me. Life has been good in my new home. Quite a lot has changed over the years, but not in a scary way. Now, I live here with one of the girls. She’s grown, of course. Anytime I get the chance, I will cozy up next to her and nap. I think she enjoys this too. The man left, but not like the old man did. I still see him from time to time, so that’s nice.
Oh! Now is a good time for a nap, actually. She's on the couch tapping away at that thing in her lap, leaving a perfect place for me between her feet.