She jumped when a gust of wind ripped the restaurant door off its hinges. It disappeared down the street. She lived on the streets, but the restaurant workers fed her. Where did they go? The water got deeper by the minute. It now covered her paws and soon would touch her stomach. She sloshed through the water, looking for the humans.
The last one hammered something on the building.
She heard someone’s voice. A boat drove toward the building. She meowed, but it was drowned out by the engine.
The human sloshed through the water toward the boat.
“Get in. The storms getting worse,” the human on the boat said.
“I will, but there was a stray cat around here. I fed it. I hope she will be okay.”
“They’re tough, she’ll be okay…”
“I hope you’re right. I wanted to take her home, but I’m allergic, so I fed it here.”
The engine roared, and she watched as they faded from view. The wind roared outside as she climbed onto the deck outside the restaurant. The patter on the roof increased as the storm intensified.
A board hit the deck and jammed on the steps, blocking her escape route.
She was trapped. The water streamed onto the deck.
The boat was gone, and she was alone. Things floated by, and she strained to see them. A raft floated by, covered with moving ants. She wanted to jump on it and follow the humans, but the ants would bite her. She remembered many painful bites from fire ants when she was a kitten in the woods.
The memory made her think of when she was a kitten, she wondered where her siblings were, but there was no way of knowing. One day she wandered away from them, and when she went back, they were gone. Still, she remembered smelling a human and someone saying adoption, but when she meowed, they didn’t hear her, and she was alone, and she followed the scent of food to the restaurant. She’s been living near it ever since. She then remembered the warmth of her mother’s fur and meowed.
The water now covered the deck. She jumped up on a chair. It wobbled, and she thought it would collapse, sending her into the water, but it stayed up. The human used to sit on it when he smoked a long stick and fed her scraps. She could still smell the smoke.
A long rope floated by before it moved and hissed at her. A snake. She hissed at it, and it drifted away.
She shook repeatedly, but she stayed wet, and a chill grew inside her. She curled up on the chair. The chair rocked like a boat when the wind roared, and darkness covered the area like someone had turned the lights off. She was so exhausted that she drifted to sleep despite the raging storm.
Dreams. A warm mother, fights with siblings, catching a mouse, food from humans, catnip, a few pets, kind words, and an inside place that was warm and dry. A home that she never knew.
A strong gust of wind shook the chair and woke her up. The chair started to topple over. At the same time, a bright light shined on the deck. She splashed into the water along with the chair.
“Look at that sign.” A voice said. “A cat is around here. Please save her. She doesn’t have a home, but I call her Harley. Do you see her?”
She tried to climb on the board that blocked the deck, but it was too slippery, and she plunked back into the water. She was too weak and sank under and closed her eyes. Before she hit bottom, something grabbed her and hoisted her out of the water.
“I got you.” A human with long hair lifted her up and stared into her eyes. “Give me a blanket.”
She trembled despite the blanket being wrapped around her. Could she trust these humans?
“The sign says her name is Harley.”
“Harley, you’re a good cat.” She knew those words. They were good words. They got back into the boat, and the engine hummed to life.
“I will take care of Harley,” Katie said.
“You are a Harley Quinn fan.” The human laughed.
“Yeah, I am. I also had a cat before. She lived to eighteen years old.” Harley felt warmth.
The memories stayed, but she felt something new too. She stopped trembling and rubbed against the human’s hand.
“Katie, she likes you.”
Katie kissed her head and rubbed behind her ears.
“Harley, you’re coming home with me.”
She knew love. She knew it started slowly; maybe this was the beginning of it. Maybe she would have a home now like she dreamed all her siblings did. She purred.The sun came over the horizon as the storm moved away when they reached dry land, and a new day began.
Meet the Author
William Falo lives with his family, including a papillon named Dax. His stories have been published or are forthcoming in various literary journals. He can be found on Twitter @williamfalo and Instagram @william.falo