Ahh, National Novel Writing Month. Twenty or so days into the month, I was struggling for finding words for my novel. I started this short story below, because I needed something fresh to write. In the end, I won NaNoWriMo 2016 and this short story helped me on my 2016 Novel, Tilt.
Now since I’ve gone back and re-read what I wrote, I decided I could share this with the world!
Opening the door, I stepped aside as I waited. Waiting was something that happens when you have a pet. Not so much when you have a boyfriend, I suppose.
The feline slithered right in between the glass screen door, and stopped right in between the door frame.
“Charlotte.” I had a firm and welcoming voice to help push her through the entryway. Standing with her feet a part, she just stood there.
The only way I was able to get her to move forward into the Kitchen, was by giving her attention. Which, was exactly what she wanted. Food would never entice her inside, because my boyfriend would also feed her outside. He didn’t like how Charlotte would hide some cat treats in a corner in the living room.
She inched forward and I was able to close both the screen door and back door. Trotting forward, she walked over to the living room, and sat on the little throne that was one of our living room chairs. She had claimed it not long after I had adopted her.
“Despite your best efforts, she’s still sitting in my chair.” His voice was chilled, but he surprised me with a kiss on the cheek as he went down to the laundry room.
“It’s because I’ve always had this chair as long as I’ve had Charlotte.” I opened the small cabinet door, and grabbed a handful of cat food.
“Why don’t you feed the cat outside?” I could still hear him chatting to me behind the closed laundry door.
“For the same reason the cat is not supposed to be in the laundry room. It will cause a great mess, and even then, it’s healthier to feed Charlotte inside.”
Watching my step, I walked briskly over to the cat bowl. Soon, Charlotte would come over to her bowl, and eat about a third of what was given, drink some water, and then return to her throne.
“I’m glad we both agree not to allow the cat in the laundry room.” He returned from the laundry room with fresh clothes in a wooden basket.
Walking over to the stove, I began to prepare our favorite early morning breakfast for Sundays: French Toast with Cinnamon. It was quite simple, living here in the suburbs of the city. The house was quite small, and only was fit for two people. We still manage for living with a cat in the house, but most of the time Charlotte likes to go outside.
“You ever realize how special we treat Charlotte?” He was folding and hanging up his clothes in our bedroom, away from said cat.
“Sometimes I see that we do. Why don’t we get her a outdoor house, so it won’t feel so crowded?” I had never made this suggestion before, and it surprised me that I even said it.
“So people can drive by and steal her when she’s inside at night?” He gave me a credulous look, and laughed.
“I like the setup we have now.”
That was the end of that conversation, and returning back to our regular lives, we kept up with our daily living.
Few days later, Charlotte came inside, with her skin looking more disheveled than before. After a quick examination, we found a small cut on her ear.
“Someone’s trying to hurt Charlotte!” Sobbing, I held her with such love and care, that I couldn’t help but worry about all the other cats out there, being killed because they were cats.
“Samantha, it’s going to be okay. Charlotte will be able to heal quickly, and we could even keep her indoors while she heals.” His eyes were soft and firm, and they met mine with a love so strong that it caused me to let go of Charlotte.
We let her back outside the next day, and we watched her play in her yard. It was almost like a jungle, our backyard. When I moved into this house before any of this happened, I had planned on cutting down some of the overgrown shrubs and vines. My boyfriend, surprisingly arrived the day before I was going to cut some vines, and convinced me to keep it not only for its beauty, but also for Charlotte. Now, two years later it’s difficult to see through the trees, except the paths that Charlotte has made.
A month had passed, and throughout the acres of land that was behind my Kitchen window, I had never expected to find people visiting my backyard. Coming home after a long day at work, I watched as the beautiful cat came rolling down the hills, but it wasn’t from running towards the house.
“NO!” I empathetically ran out the back door, not caring to shut the door from the cold Fall wind. I ran for almost a mile, and the closer I got, the louder I could hear others speaking not to me, but each other.
Above the hill, were two men, with dart guns lying next to them. With my experience in trapping, I was just as good as them. I landed right at Charlotte’s side, and began to look for any damage done.
“You’ve got quite a nice kitty, miss.” The southern accent made my hair stand on its end, and I stayed with Charlotte while I tended to her wound.
Only one of them made the shot, but it was a poor shot, at most. It did not lodge directly into the skin, but it was about an inch in.
“How bad is it?” His breathe cooled against the edge of my jacket, and I couldn’t look at him with all the anger rising within me.
“Look,” I whispered so the two gentlemen now coming down the hill could not hear me. “I want you to remove this poisoned needle, and take my scarf and place it on the wound to prevent further bleeding.” Handing him my scarf, I got up, and walked furiously over to the gentlemen.
“Hello.” The second man’s voice was more northern, yet it still made me cringe.
“You realize we have a permit that states on every outpost that you are not allowed to hunt on this premise?”
“We saw that, and yet here we are.” The first gentlemen really shouldn’t have spoke that moment.
Stepping two steps towards them, (both equally distanced from each other). I watched both of their eyes as I spoke.
“No, let me be quite clear. You are never to set foot here again.” My right hand connected with his jaw, and he fell to the ground as I walked away proudly defending my home.
“When I told everyone I had adopted a cat, everyone just assumed that I was just going to let her roam inside.” I sobbed and reached my hands out to him, in a kind gesture to re-focus on him.
He nodded, and I fell into his arms like a girl who needed a shoulder to cry on. His soft arms wrapped around me, and just for a moment I thought about Charlotte. Charlotte was my feline friend, my companion. What was I supposed to do once she got hurt so bad, that I could not help?
Pushing me away, he looked at Charlotte and then back at me.
“What if,” He hesitated slowly, and twisted his mouth tightly together.”What if we sent her to where she could be protected, and not harmed?”
I leaned back, offended by this offer.
“Charlotte was almost skin and bones when she approached my doorstep for food, and that was before I found you. I love both of you, but I don’t think- ”
“If you are afraid of the law causing you more problem than it’s worth, I believe I know of a solution.”
I left him alone, and Charlotte followed me into my bedroom. She leaped lightly into my bed, and I curled up beside her, afraid of letting my friend go. After a hour or so, the door opened slowly, and then shut again.
“If you are worried about letting go of Charlotte, I won’t let that happen.” He sat on the edge of the bed, and Charlotte hissed at him.
“She’s never liked me. I’m not saying to send her away because of me, but maybe she needs to actually go live with her kind. That could help her be more prepared for nature.”
I turned towards him, and Charlotte curled up almost into like a downward dog Yoga pose, for a few moments before becoming like a cat statue again.
“Where would we be able to take her that would accept her?”
“I know you are against this place, but I figured that we would still be able to visit her as much as we wanted.” He handed me a little pamphlet, and I scanned it over, shocked that I was truly considering this.
“The evil Queen must go, doesn’t she?” I looked over the pamphlet again, before looking back at my best friend, who was still waiting for an answer.
“Every Princess needs to have her own reign, even if it overlooks the Queen’s.”
The next day, I swallowed my pride and love, and visited the place where Charlotte would be able to call home. After showing the licenses we had on file for her, the CEO gave us a look of concern.
“How were you able to feed her, without having access to the food we have?”
His office was decorated with dark greenery and safari pieces, and I felt at home again.
“I grew up as a ranch hand, sir.” I chimed in, and began to tell the lessons I had learned on feeding stray animals.
“She’s in danger though.” My boyfriend spoke up after a moments of silence, and I wasn’t sure where he was now directing this conversation.
“The hunters have been causing quite a stir in our neighboring countries, I am sure you are aware of that.”
“I am sir. That’s why I came here, with an idea. While it is not as political as some offers or ideas you have seen, this one might help solve part of our problems.”
Across the table, the man sat up, and dialed his secretary. He spoke in a hushed voice, and then hung up the phone quickly.
“I’ve phoned for our best doctors to schedule time for a meet up for tomorrow. Will that work for you?”
Rising from my seat, I smiled falsely. “That will be perfectly fine. Same time?”
We were escorted out the building, and elbowing him in the side, his eyes were still looking away, and hiding a plan I was unaware of.
When we made it to our small home, Charlotte was stretched out on the floor, and playing with a large ball of yarn. I laughed at the sight of a cat playing with yarn, but my boyfriend looked away and didn’t talk to me until the next day.
On the way back to the CEO’s office, I was the first to talk to my boyfriend.
“You’ve been quite silent. What’s up?”
He was driving the truck, and he pulled into the parking lot before answering.
“This park has been without a large cat for several years now, and I just wonder…”’ He stopped, and got out of the truck, shaking his head.
I followed him inside, and the secretary greeted us warmly.
“Fourth floor, and to the right.”
I nodded, and had to run to catch up with him. Why was he acting this way? He still managed to reach the CEO’s office before me, but I stopped him from knocking on the door before the meeting.
“Before we start this meeting, I’m going to need you to be honest with me.”
“I’ll explain in the meeting, and it’ll make sense when I do.”
The CEO greeted us warmly, and invited us to have a drink or two before discussing the business of letting him have the cat for his ‘park.’
“Thank you for coming back here and on such short notice.” The CEO gave a warm smile to my partner, but not to me. I took a sip of water, and tried not to make a fuss of this situation.
“Your partner here has been in contact with me over the past few weeks about your situation,” I gave both men a hard look, and waited to hear the story. “He told me that you guys had a large cat breed, specifically a Savannah cat.”
The CEO stopped talking, because my boyfriend put his hand up to stop him, and turned to me.
“I’d like to tell this part of the story.”
Waiting for him to speak, I took another sip of my water.
“Those two men who have come to our house to attack Charlotte are friends of mine, first off.”
“How can you be friends with-”
“I’ve told you before we started dating I use to have a dangerous lifestyle with animals. That was it. I use to hunt animals to then turn them in for money.”
So that’s the past I am finally getting to hear about, but why now?
“Why are you now telling me this?” And here, of all places.
“Its because I contacted him,” His hand shot towards the CEO. “So that we could send her to a well kept place, instead of another hoarder.”
“Yes, exactly. I realized that you guys weren’t the hoarders that I typically deal with, because of your loving nature. I think your boyfriend here has been more helpful than you realize. I’ve had hoarders contact me about your cat, and I have told them not to bother you guys.”
I just sat back in the chair, appalled.
“They knew not to mess with you guys, but it was when I was told that you punched one of my employees, that I had to take action.”
“So you buy out these animals, so they can go on a tour and please people?”
He nodded, and added his own personal remark. “That’s how the show business is.”
Shaking my head, I turned my attention towards my boyfriend.
“And what do you think?”
He put his drink down, and twiddled his thumbs, but didn’t look me in the eye.
“He’s right, honestly. When you punched Rico, that’s when I knew that we would be visiting him soon. That’s why I made the suggestion that we relocate Charlotte.” His eyes were cold at that moment, and I realized I was outnumbered in this decision.
“I will not let you go empty handed, of course.” The CEO jumped back into the conversation, as a reminder that he was still a part of this decision.
“How’s that?” Lowering my voice, I began to not care what offer I was about to get.
“Charlotte wil not be harmed, I can guarantee that. She will not be traveling with us on these shows, but will stay in town to gain revenue for our entertainment and home shows here in the City.” He opened up a couple of drawers, pulling out sheets of paper and a check book.
“We will let both of you be able to tour the facility for free.” He handed over two laminated business cards that had his signature and the words “FREE ENTRANCE” in graved on top.
“Then of course, there’s the money.”
“So you are buying us out, and I don’t get a say in the whole damn matter?” I got up from the chair, and turned towards the door.
“We realize the price of taking care of a large cat, especially when you have people gunning against you. That’s why we are offering one hundred thousand pounds per month for two years as a payment plan and as a Thank You.”
The scratching of a pen could be heard followed by the ripping of a page out of a book. My back was still turned away from all this mess that I never had a say in.
A hand touched me on the back, and I turned to see his face glum and his eyes still cold. He rushed me out of the door, and I walked to the car alone.
“This is best for Charlotte.” He pulled into the driver seat and turned on the car. We sat there in silence, and before he drove away, he reminded me that Charlotte was already being transported to the Park.
“Next time, tell me the entire truth before we get ourselves into a situation like this again.”
He took my hand, and grasped it, like it was the last time we could hold each other.
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