Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lady



We moved from Connecticut to Virginia in August 2004 and adopted Lady not too long afterward.

My wife Cheryl decided to write about our special pet one day, from the perspective of our (then) 10-year-old son. The first three parts came to her at one time, and the final part came later on.

***

It was all because
my parents felt sorry for us
that we got to pick a pet.
We had just moved from Connecticut
and we were all squeezed into
this tiny apartment.
We had given away 
a lot of toys
so that we would fit.

We had loved Connecticut
and our friends there
and our school.
My teacher had given me a parting gift
a book
called Love That Dog
and my dad said that
he wouldn’t mind reading it
because he likes books and reading.
And he loved the book.
And then my mom read it too.


So anyway
we were sitting at the dinner table
one night
in this strange, new city
the walls still bare around us
when my mom said
“Reading that book makes me feel like we should get a pet.”
And my dad said, “Me too.”
So the very next weekend
we went to the pet store
and got a
cat. 



***

Lady was the name on the crate
a name we’d keep
not because we loved it
but because we couldn’t agree on anything else.
That’s the way it goes with my sister and me.
She wanted to name her Sabre (pronounced “say-bree”)
and I wanted anything but Sabre.
So Lady it was.

We adopted her from the pet store

and put her carrier in the back seat between us.
After we had traveled a ways
I opened the top of the carrier to pet her.
When I did, she stretched her body so long
and peaked out the top.
I couldn’t believe how tall she was.
She was not really a kitten.
The kittens were cute, but you had to get two of them.
So we had gotten Lady
and the people at the pet store said
she was between 6 and 9 months old. 


***

During those first days
Lady didn’t know what to think of us.
We showed her the litter box
in the small bathroom downstairs.
She would peer out of the bathroom door
and raise one paw
in a little fearful motion.
She was a cute thing
white fur
with black spots
one above her left eye
a few scattered on her back
and little heart-shaped marks
on the backs of her legs.
Soft to pet
but not as soft as you might imagine.
She would tousle with string a little bit
but she wasn’t too feisty.
She was mostly sweet.
Scared and sweet.


***

One spring afternoon
a good while later
I came home and found Lady in the window sill
with pink cherry blossoms blooming behind her.
She was doing one of those perfect cat poses.
And I realized that if we’d never come here
never left our old home
never read that book about loving a dog
then I wouldn’t have Lady
and Lady wouldn’t have me.


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