Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ghost Kitten

It all began with a dream. 

In the dream, I came home to an apartment where our adult cat let me know that the kitten was behind the couch. (We don’t have a kitten.) I had to lie down on the floor and reach back into the dark depths to find her and pull her out. She was so small I could hold her in one hand as I stroked her soft belly which was plump with kitten food. A little too much food, I thought. 

I woke with that lingering scent of infancy that makes you want to nuzzle a kitten, a puppy, or an infant. And though I don’t usually remember my dreams, this one stayed with me, along with a protective feeling for that kitten in the shadows. 

That day, rain fell in sheets, but cleared up enough for Angel and me to make our evening walk to the park. On our way home we were walking up to the red brick real estate

building and I spotted a little shadow dashing across the steps at the side door. My mind flashed on images of otters, moles, and rats, but resolved into the realization that I had seen a wet, charcoal kitten. It had leaped  away from a bowl of cat food, across the first step, and disappeared into a gap in the handmade steps. I pulled a few good pieces of cat food out of the rain-sodden bowl and placed them where she could easily reach them, but I knew she wasn’t coming out as long as I had the dog with me so we went home. 

The next morning I returned with fresh food and water and waited for the kitten to make another appearance. Eventually she poked her head out, eyeing me cautiously before chomping down on each piece one at a time. Her fur, had dried to a gray ash remarkably similar to our cat, Sasha, who had grown old and died several years ago. It was like she was back for another one of her nine lives.  

I returned later in the day and brought some kitten food. Little Sasha ate it up happily. When I tried to get near her, though, she ducked back under the steps. Not ready to  trust. 

The ladies in the insurance office came out to see their little visitor when I told them about her. They had no idea she was there, and we discussed setting out a safe capture cage. This was when I took the pictures, and Little Sasha allowed me to get much closer. 

Did you know that when you name an animal, you’re five times more likely to want to keep and care for it? Don’t ask me to back that up statistically, just take my word for it. (It’s election season—I’m allowed.)

The next day, Little Sasha was gone. 

The food hadn’t been touched, and it stayed untouched for the next three days. I looked for a little corpse in the road or signs of blood. Nothing. 

I call her my ghost kitten because she showed up in my dreams, was untouchable by day, and haunts me still today, echoing the loss of Sasha Prime and leaving me asking why it happened. (Yes, I just made a Star Trek reference. The new movie is coming out—I’m allowed.)

Why am I so haunted by the Ghost Kitten? Was I supposed to help her? Bring her to safety? Why was I “alerted” by my dream and then unable to follow up? Or was it, as my wife suggests, that my actions alerted someone else who was able to capture her and give her a good home? 

My thoughts turn to Shakespeare: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” (I was an English major—I’m allowed.)

1 comment: