Today we have a short story by Jamy starling about a determined young man named Pablo who doesn’t let anything stand in his way.
Pablo Riviera studied himself in his bedrooms full-length mirror he’d had as long as he’d lived in the house. He loved his house. Filled with so many memories of his 13 years there. Christmases, Easters, and dances. And now he awaited a new home to spend many more memories in.
Smiling at the thought, he chucked his hairbrush into one of the many packing boxes now decorating his room.
Unknowingly, he stared off into space his mind wandering to his current predicament. If he could only resolve this problem and nothing else in his life, he would have happily done so. And that problem was.
Getting a cat.
His whole life, Pablo Isidro Riviera had been deathly allergic to cats. Deathly.
So, he was never allowed to have one. Or at least it’d seemed that way, lots of people have incidents where they think one thing happens, and it’s really another. And Pablo Riviera was hoping it was one of those incidences.
For years he’d researched, and figured out that he was not exactly deathly allergic. Yes, he had had some medical run ins with cats and his allergies, but he knew there was a way to fix this. And he knew it wasn’t just wishful thinking. Or at least hoped it wasn’t.
But today! For once and for all he would prove this forbidden love wrong!
“Today is the day.” He told his reflection, puffing out his chest. “Today is the day I become a man!” He repeated, placing his hands on his hips to create a strong heroic pose.
“Well, I guess I’ve been a man for two weeks already, being my eighteenth birthday was two weeks ago….” He reasoned slumping into a less heroic pose.
“But never mind the formalities!” He added returning to his heroic pose. This time he flexed nonexistent muscles at his shirtless reflection. “Today is the day I will act as a new come man and get a kitty!”
“A Cat!? Are you crazy!?” The familiar voice of his girlfriend Rina exclaimed.
Recognition hit immediately, he screamed. Partially because Rina had scared him, and partially because he wasn’t wearing a shirt.
Pablo fumbled for the loose blanket at the edge of his bed.
“Excuse me madam, but ladies like yourself aren’t allowed in the changing quarters while the men are a-changing.” He said in a Hollywood famous southern accent from behind his blanket.
Rina, unamused by his fanatics, turned to where her back was now facing him and bared out an irritated sigh. “Let me know when you’re done.”
Pablo waited a couple of seconds, unsure if she was going to at any second spring around and see him in his unholy state. Eyes darting back and forth from her and his shirt that was hanging off his bed. He finally decided she wouldn’t do anything if she hadn’t already.
After slipping into his dress shirt and buttoning his cream colored buttons he allowed Rina to turn around again.
Rina opened her mouth to say something, but stopped.He didn’t have to look down to know she was staring at his shirt, to be honest he didn’t know why she seemed so surprised at his light blue dress shirt, that had little meows embroidered all over.
Shaking the shirt from her mind, “Are you crazy!?” She exclaimed. “You can’t get a cat!!
You’re deathly allergic to cat’s!”
Blinking a couple times, and pushing on his ear, he calmly answered. “Frist, yes. I am
crazy. Rina you knew this, I’m not even sure why you have to ask, you’ve been dating me since 5th grade. Second, I know I’m allergic. The matter of it being deathly is still to be determined
“Not this again.” She interrupted crossing her arms.
In a crisp tone he added, “and third, yes. I can and will get a cat.” He turned toward his mirror stuffing his shirt into his blazer pants, before turning back towards her adding. “And I’d prefer we use the word kitty instead of cat.”
“How can you get a cat? Sorry, kitty.” She added after he started to oppose of her choice of words. “What I’m trying to say is, doesn’t your throat start closing up after you’re around a cat? Kitty!”
Returning from his closet, and standing before his mirror again, to fix a bow tie onto his shirt. Pablo explained. “I’m glad you’ve brought that up my love. Because, I have found new pills.”
“And these pills work for you?” She asked crossing her arms before him, as he sat on the bed to slip on his dress shoes.
“Well I guess we’ll find out when we get to the cat shelter.”
“Yes, now that you know, I don’t think you’re going to let me go by myself,” he said, offering her his arm.
“You know me well dear boyfriend.” She stated smugly. Rina took the offered arm, and the two skipped like fools all the way through the house and to the car.
Rina and Pablo, found a parking spot right out front of the Purple Cat- or kitty as Pablo was insisting- Shelter
Also luckily, Rina had insisted on driving. It was a good thing she had, her boyfriend was a little too busy staring at all the kitties behind the windows of the shelter She couldn’t help but think that they would’ve crashed if she’d let him drive, or at least come close to it.
Sending Pablo to go pay for their parking space, and to get a hold of himself. Excited about seeing the kitties he needed a quick second to calm down so he didn’t scare the kitties.
While waiting, she gave the Cat Shelter her personal Rina Inspection.
So, standing before the purple cat shelter, she took in the details. The shelter was painted with a soft lavender color, and dark purple cat paws speckled the store front. On either side of the front door were two windows. Inside the windows you could see adorable kittens accompanying cat perches.
Pablo completed his task of feeding the vending machine its silver coins, and jiggled his way towards his pretty lady. “Done,” he told her in his chipper tone.
She gave a nod, her Rina Inspection was done.
Rina placed her hand on his shoulder signaling him to a stop. “Are you sure you’re ready for this?” She asked, a little worried.
He really loved her. She wasn’t questioning if this was a good idea- at least not anymore- she was questioning if he was ready. And, to be honest, he wasn’t sure. But he did know this was the right way to find out.
“Positive.” He answered with a big dopey grin and continued his previous jiggle walk.
Stepping inside, he was greeted by a tiny bell from above the door, and was welcomed into a kitty wonderland.
He gave the desk lady his name and she told him to take a seat and that one of the volunteers would be with them in a moment.
Taking a seat, Rina grabbed a close by Pet Lovers magazine to paw through. Pablo tapped his happy feet along to the therapeutic music playing through the shelter.
Not even three minutes after arriving, Pablo had his first eruptive sneeze. Rina gave him a sideyed glance. Looking her in the eye he turned away after only a few seconds, as he became suddenly embarrassed.
Rina decided to let it go, after all, it was a cat shelter. There was an abundance of cat hair and dirt flying around, even her nose was getting ticklish and she wasn’t allergic to cats.
Moments later Pablo sneezed again, followed by a muffled cough, but yet again Rina ignored it.
“Hello! I’m Yen!” A masculine accented voice said. Pablo whipped his head away from the kittens accompanying the window perches.
“Hi.” Pablo answered trying to collect his thoughts. He wasn’t too comfortable around guys. Most definitely not in a setting like this. Pablo was always seen as too weird for a guy.
Nope. He wasn’t ready for this.
“Um, only curious but is it possible to have the woman I spoke with on the phone guide us around today? We discussed a couple cats.”
“Oh! Of course!” Yen responded with giant smiles. “What’s her name? I’ll get her for ya.”
“Donna,” He responded with a giant smile of his own. Crisis avoided.
“Great! She is here! She’ll be out in a momento. Please make yourself comfortable.”
Huh? Now he felt a little bad having to send him away. Yen seemed like a cool guy. Definitely was dripping with kitty passion too.
Not too long after a tall and pale lady came out, assumably Donna. Shaking their hands she led them back to where all the cats were, giving a brief history on this nonprofit shelter as well as talking about some of the shelter’s most prominent kitties.
But sadly, Pablo started a sneezing a fit, midway to the room.
“See! Your pills are already wearing off and we haven’t even been here more than five minutes. Admit it, the pills aren’t working, and you’re in no position to get a cat right now. I know,” she continued when Pablo looked like he was going to interrupt. “I’m not saying you can’t get a cat, but just wait until we can get pills that actually work, because it’s clear these aren’t.”
“No, they aren’t wearing off.” He responded, which was very unconvincing since he said it with a nasally stuffed nose type of voice, frustration clearly leaked onto his face when he realized that he sounded like Donald Duck.
Rina looked to Donna trying to find a way to change her boyfriend’s mind, reluctantly though Rina had to eventually let Donna continue guiding them to the cats.
And she did, Donna named all types of cats and kittens they had, with their array of colors from black to orange, and moods that ranged from playful to aggressive and moody to snuggly. As well as names as diverse as Anne, Kimberly, Green, and Autumn.
And, all through this, Pablo continued to and try to discreetly scratch his skin. But he wasn’t very good at hiding it from his radar like girlfriend.
After agonizing minutes for Pablo of looking at pictures, and discussing some of the kitties in the pictures he was ready to meet the kitties.
Rina gave out a defeated sigh, but didn’t say anything, and followed Donna and Pablo into the room.
The Cat Community room was the same purple that had been used on the front of the store, and there were pink and purple stripes lining the ceiling.
The room was also adorned with an abundance of cat perches and toys scattered about the floor and surprisingly there was a couple hanging from the wall and ceiling.
Other than them there were only five other people in the room gawking at the beauties, a family, and a volunteer.
Donna led them to a corner that had two neon pink bean bag chairs, gesturing for them to sit, she went to a nearby cat perch to pluck a snow white kitten. And then grabbed another kitten from a perch on her way back, this one was a dark and light gray kitten, that had ink splatters of black fur.
“This is Oakley,” Donna said kneeling down, handing the ink splattered kitten to Rina. “He’s a beautiful gray and black calico kitten and he has a kinda queer personality. He’ll creepily watch you from behind something and then come for snuggles when you settle down somewhere.
“And this little girl,” She said holding up the white kitten. “Is Darkness.”
Pablo tried to resist laughing, but it ended coming out his nose in a snort, and the girls broke out into a laugh with him.
“This little marshmallow?” Pablo asked taking Darkness and holding her inches from his face.
As the kitten started squirming Pablo let out an earth-shaking sneeze that petrified the kitten.
Rina took Darkness from him and scooted away from him, and Pablo couldn’t protest so he just adored from a distance.
Dona scratched Darkness’s head and continued on informing them about the kittens. “Darkness is a Persian cat that is not to be mistaken for by her name, she is a very playful, chirpy, and squeaky child. She enjoys occasional snuggles.”
Looking sympathetically at Pablo whose eyes were starting to water asked, “Would you like me to get other cats for you to look at? Or would you like to play with these sweeties first?”
“Play with these sweeties.” He responded, reaching for the kittens that Rina had been keeping away from him.
8 minutes, 173 sneezes, and 13 ear scratches later Pablo had silently decided these were the ones for him.
Darkness’s name felt like a keeper, but Oakley…? He needed a better name. Pablo was yet to decide what it was though.
All was going well, but then Pablo went into a coughing fit that sounded as if he was struggling to breath.
Rina instinctively flailed toward him, pulling him up from where he’d been laying on his stomach playing with the kittens, and dragged him out the community room.
Pablo tried protesting, but couldn’t get a word in with his hacking coughing.
Pablo knowing he wasn’t ready for a fight right now let Rina continue dragging him away.
But before exiting he turned his head toward Donna and whispered, “I will call later about those two.” and Donna kindly mouthed back, “I’ll put them on hold for you until you get it figured out.”
And with that Pablo was dragged to the car and driven home. Rina told him to shower and change to get all cat remnants off. And when he was done Rina did the same, and kindly made his lunch as an apology for the whole cat predicament.
“When are you moving into your apartment?” Rina asked her all too distracted boyfriend.
It was January now, and he’d be starting college in the fall. And he’d decided to get a head start on moving into his own apartment early in the year.
Rina looked up to see why he hadn’t responded, and was not a bit surprised to see him sitting in his office chair spinning around with a cat stuffed animal held above his head. He was mumbling compliments to it.
She couldn’t help but smile at the scene she was witnessing, admiring a few more minutes before moving back to studying.
“You will be my one and only true love, you beautiful kitty.”
Whipping her head up as fast as she could, she calmed down a little realizing it was just the cat he was talking to.
“Am I a joke to you?” she asked sarcastically.
Pablo stopped spinning, and faced her “No, my dear, you see….” He set the kitten stuffy on the bed.
“You are a pun to me,” he continued, walking towards her. Kneeling on the floor before her, holding his face inches from hers.
“And lucky for you I love puns.” He finished with a smirk, and then kissed her on the nose and then dodged away and lunged for the kitten stuffy, jumping into the chair sending it spinning. His maniacal laughter filled the room.
Rina’s face was showing no signs of blushing, but her heart couldn’t help but do fluttery leaps. How had she got so lucky to end up with Pablo the Adorable Dork?
“What do you mean by saying the cat’s your one and only true love?” Rina prodded.
“Kitty.” Pablo corrected. “And I mean, you can leave me at any moment so I’m not getting my hopes up quite yet.”
“What makes you think the cat won’t leave?” She questioned, struggling to understand his logic.
“Kitty! And the kitties won’t leave because they love me.”
“So do I.”
“Yes,” starting to get confused by his own logic. “But curiosity peeks in that mind of yours. I know.”
“You’re right, I’m very curious about the outside world.” Rina said looking out the small bedroom window, she’d never really been anywhere.
When she looked back at Pablo she saw an appalled look on his face. “Yeah well you know what they say,” he started covering the stuffed cat’s ears. “Curiosity killed the kitty.” He finished mouthing the words.
Giving him an amused giggle she returned to studying.
“So I’ve been thinking.” Pablo said, swaying to the rhythm of stroking the cat. “Ya know darkness is the perfect name for that little marshmallow, so no changes there. But Oakley, there is where our problem lays, don’t get me wrong it’s a nice name, just not entirely fitting. So here’s what I’m thinking.”
“You adopted those cats!?” Rina interrupted, appalled.
“Uh…Well, it’s kind of a process… so not yet…”
“I thought you said you were going to give up?!”
“No! That’s what you thought!” Pablo said raising his voice.
“You can’t get a cat, you’re deathly allergic,” Rina told him lowering her head and voice.
“That is where you are wrong my dear. You see I’ve been testing my allergies in these last two weeks since we went to the cat shelter.”
Rina let out a gasp, but Pablo held up a finger for her to wait.
“And I’ve discovered that I’m not deathly allergic. My allergy is still there but I can breathe, the only affects I feel are scratchy skin, sneezing, some coughing, and some eye-watering. Okay, extreme eye-watering.” He added after a moment.
“Well, what about that reaction from when you were little? You said you couldn’t breathe.”
Pablo shrugged. “A great many things could have happened, we just assumed that that was a part of my cat allergy. We avoided cats at all costs, and mom only looked for a cure for about six months.
“But you still have a really bad, almost bearable allergy?”
“Yes,” he said reluctantly.
“And have you found an allergy pill that helps for more than five minutes?”
“No,” he said dropping the stuffy and collapsing on the couch next to her. “My doctor thinks he has a prescription that might work, but it’ll take him a while to get it.” He added with a little hope.
“That’s good news! So we just wait till you get it, see if it works, and then get a kitten.” Rina said.
“The only problem is that who knows how long it will be till the pills get here? Even my doctor won’t know when it will come.” Pablo said, the realization hitting him like a ten-ton truck.
“So our only problem is we have to be patient, I know it’s hard but we can do it.” Rina said, oblivious to what was at stake.
“You don’t seem to get it. The problem is the shelter won’t hold Darkness and Oakley for us. And you can’t adopt them because there’s no cats allowed at your house. So we won’t get to be the ones to rename Oakley.”
“Hey!” Rina’s staticky voice rang out over speaker phone.
“Hello, sweetheart.” Mrs. Riviera, very chipper, greeted back.
“Oh, hello Mrs. Riviera!”
“Oh dear! Please call me Lori, after all you might be my daughter in law one day.” His mom responded in a very-suspiciously-chipper tone.
Pablo felt his mother’s gaze turn toward him, and the fact that Rina hadn’t said anything yet, he couldn’t help but give a smirk “She might.”
“Anyway.” Rina started after giving a suspicious cough- obviously trying to swallow her smiles. She was so easy to read- even if he couldn’t see her. “I was just calling to see how you were doing. So how are you doing?”
Pablo was on his way to reject the kittens, so it made sense why she was calling.
“Fine,” he answered, turning his head to make sure he wouldn’t back into anyone, and to hide the fact that his eyes were looking a little shiny.
“How’s the “funk”?” Rina asked, it made him a little upset at the moment on how well she knew him.
He was in a “funk”, he had to reject two beautiful kittens, and he wasn’t happy about it.
Due to his “funk” he’d been avoiding people all day, he’d planned to go by himself to the shelter, but that didn’t quite go according to plan.
His mom needed to got to a grocery store on the same part of town the shelter was in. Since she didn’t trust him to bring back all and the right things she tagged along. She was right, but it still hurt.
Apparently, he’d have to cry to breakup songs on the way to the ice cream shop later.
“M-mr. Ri-iver-ra?” Donna stuttered in shock. “I was meaning to contact you. Wha-at br-rings you he-ere?”
“Sad things.” Pablo started, about to go into a dramatic ramble, but something was wrong. “What’s wrong?” Pablo asked warily.
“W-well.” Donna pondered wringing her hands nervously. “The cats…. Darkness is gone!” She finally pushed out, tears brimming her eyes.
“What do you mean?” Pablo demanded, now matching her worried tone.
“Well, this morning one of our laundry ladies came and took all the blankets to clean, and that’s when we noticed she was gone.”
Pablo stunned, grabbed the counter to stable his now spinning head. Not able to finish his mother inquired more about the situation in his place.
Apparently, Darkness had gone missing at an undetermined time and was only discovered gone this morning. Several volunteers searched for her but no one had found her.
How? Why? Were the only things Pablo could ask himself.
Pablo and his mom were granted permission to look around the shelter for her, so they did….
Behind the building, there were lots of boxes that would tickle a kitty’s fancy. In the storage room, which had enough meals to send all the kitties in the city into a massive food coma. They even checked the records to see if anyone had seen Darkness.
But no luck.
Not to mention, his stupid allergies kept him from searching the cat shelter territory any further.
So here he was, in the same plaza as the cat shelter, sitting at an outdoor table pathetically brooding, and recovering.
“I’m sorry, baby,” his mom said, just coming back from her last shopping stop. “I know today was already hard for you, and this isn’t making it any easier. But will this help?” she asked, pushing his favorite ice cream towards him.
“No….” He said, slowly taking it anyway and discreetly turning away from her to eat it.
This was so frustrating, poor Oakley was being separated from his buddy. And they were going to change Darkness’s name to Anne!
“Argh!” Pablo yelled, masking it as brain freeze, but his mom knew he wasn’t crying from a brain freeze.
“Ready?!” Rina asked peeping her head out from behind a wall.
“Ready,” Pablo said, tightening his tie. Yet again. And then loosening it because it was too tight. Yet again.
He was really nervous, they were going to be attending a dinner at a super fancy restaurant. So fancy that there were several sets of the same silverware, but for different meals, and the waiters wore button-ups and bow ties.
Stepping out Rina jigged a little Can Can to show off her dressed-up self. Her red trumpet dress and gold bangles really accentuated her beauty.
He truly did have himself an Indian beauty. Forget the Taj Mahal, Rina was the wonder of his world. Too bad there weren’t two kitties with her. They could be Pablo’s Wonders.
Augh! Weren’t these tears done burdening me?! He thought. First, the stress of new people and now my mind is always flickering back to my preciouses!
“You look great,” Pablo said, covering his face and tilting his head away from her.
Had she noticed?
“At times like these, I wish I could make you forget so you can enjoy happy things that are happening.” She said sympathetically.
Yep, she definitely noticed.
“I know it hurts and it will for a while.” She pushed his hair behind his ear. He thought that’s what he was supposed to do for her, but he kind of liked it. Was he too feminine? Would the college guys they were going to meet tonight think that?
“Just don’t ignore this opportunity. You’re going to be starting college! And you get to have a jump start on getting to know them tonight. I know it’s scary because you don’t know them, but this dinner is a great chance to. Don’t let it worry you because it’s super fancy.”
Looking at her side eyed he questioned if she was reading his mind.
“I’m not a telepath.”
Jumping back startled, with a gaping mouth Rina giggled at him. “You’re just sort of predictable. Well, your thoughts are. Actions though, not so much. I can never predict those. The cats for example.”
“Anyways,” she moved on. “If they don’t like you that’s their fault because you’re awesome, and there’s plenty of other college kids that are cable of seeing what they can’t”
“How did I get you?” Pablo asked, amazed.
“Shouldn’t I be asking that?”
Finally lifting her gaze he could look her in the eyes and admire her, it felt like an eternity that they were sitting and staring at each other, and yet it felt like a fleeting moment. Giving him a soft smile, “We’re going to be late,” she said barely louder than a whisper.
Just walking into the restaurant, Pablo knew this wasn’t his kind of place. They walked in had their jackets taken away. Hopefully he got that back. Giving a name, they were escorted to a lounge, served drinks, and then escorted to the table his fellow college people were at.
Three boys and a girl sat at the cloth-covered table, and they were fancy because the boys stood up to shake his hand. Pulling out Rina’s chair she sat and he seated himself next to her. Then, not liking the distance, he discreetly moved his chair closer.
Conversation flowed from a topic of weather, to sports, to politics, it was settled onto the topic of colleges when their waiter came with his cart.
“Hello ladies and gentlemen!” said the waiter. He had an accent and when he said ‘gentlemen’ it sounded more like ‘zentlemen’.
Pablo discovered a new motto for himself, every morning he would stand in front of the bathroom mirror and say. “I am no gentlemen; I am a zentlemen.”
Accents are awesome.
“To start us off tonight we have a nice appetizer. Right?” The waiter asked, looking up, hoping for an enthusiastic nod.
Grabbing a bowl of lettuce the server tossed it with a greenish and orangish sauce in, adding in several other things that he couldn’t identify. But he did pipe up when he noticed croutons.
Swiftly plopping some on everyone’s plate, and not spilling anything on the table. The server was so graceful, he was definitely going to need some lessons.
“Now, here we have a very special avocado.” Said the waiter showing a couple tricks with a razor blade, or at least that was what it looked like.
“We get these avocados imported from the Mediterranean, not many people know this but the part right below the peel can ruin your avocado taste, so that’s why we freeze the outside of our avocados and then peel it with a razor.” The server lectured.
“Is it even possible to freeze one part of an avocado?” Rina leaned in asking.
“Maybe a time capsule type of magic is keeping it from freezing.” Pablo answered, very intrigued. But also very confused.
Cesar salad with the weird avocados was followed by spaghetti and meatballs with imported cheese.
Halfway through desert, trying to meticulously devour his dark fudge cake Rina gave Pablo a not too appreciated kick in the shin. If you’ve ever had her kick you you wouldn’t have been too surprised on how he reacted.
He’d heaved a deep breath in and tried not to glare at her when turning her way, she had a very excited smile on her face, but she wasn’t looking at him.
What? He wondered. Was she happy that she’d hurt him? What was she so excited about?
Slowly Rina raised a finger pointed toward what she was staring at. On the far end of the restaurant was a kitty, a white kitty. It looked suspiciously like Darkness.
The girl seated at their table noticed Rina and Pablo intently looking at something, turning around she also saw the cat. Whipping around in disgust she said, “Ugh! We thought this was a high-class restaurant they’re letting a weasel roam around.” The statement triggered similar remarks from the others.
Pablo halted from rising up, filled with an uncomfortable feeling. It felt that he should sit back down and do nothing. So he did.
Rina looked at him shocked and hurt, squeezing his hand he looked up at her, in an almost whisper she said, “Please don’t change.”
He looked over at the others and they were staring with judging and prying eyes. “I’m not. It’s probably not her though.” Pablo responded, striking up a conversation with the others about food.
Feeling like tears might start trickling down, she just sighed and pushed them back. Now wasn’t the time to cry. She needed to show him.
Pushing her chair back, and throwing her napkin onto her plate she marched towards the Darkness looking cat.
When she turned around everyone that had been at her table were watching her, most with disgust, but one with admiration.
She knew Pablo would take any cruelty thrown at him, but he would not accept it if it was somebody else he cared about. Her plan was to make him realize these people would be toxic and force him to change, would he? Time would tell.
And it didn’t take long.
About halfway for Rina to get to the table they already started tearing her apart from her looks to her manner to her choices. And Pablo wasn’t going to have it.
“What makes you think you can talk like that?!” Pablo demanded, aggressively getting up. Rina was still slowly progressing towards them.
“Oh, yea,” one of the guys said, realizing and looking only a little sorry.
“You should get out of that relationship while you still have the chance,” another guy said with a meek laugh.
“You can’t talk about her like that! What’s so wrong with liking a cat!?” Pablo’s voice was turning heads in the restaurant.
“Everyone knows cats are peasant’s pets,” said their ring leader, pushing back and crossing his arms in his chair.
Blundering for words, Pablo could only fumble with his hand trying to get something out, but was filled with so much frustration and irritation it took several seconds.
“You know what? I’m sick of your undermining words and time capsule confusing avocados. So, I am going to leave, with my girlfriend and this wonderful kitten that will do more for this world than the four of you combined could even think of doing!”
Grabbing Rina by the elbow he quickly escorted her away from the table, stroking the kitten so they knew he was a proud kitty lover.
Having struck an idea he turned around and shouted, “And it’s a kitty not a cat!” and then promptly turned around and continued, giving the server a $50 bill to cover their food, because he was done, and didn’t have the time to wait for change.
Rina mimicked them in crude imitation voices and grumbled rumbling all the way to the parking lot. When they finally reached the car, Rina busted out laughing.
“Why are you laughing?! How is this funny?!”
“Did you not hear what you last screamed at them?” Erupting in another fit of laughter, Pablo attempted to keep a poker face but couldn’t keep himself from smiling.
“But I loved it, not because you defended me, but because I think this will help you realize that you don’t need to change yourself. Has it?” Rina added.
“Yea.” Was Pablo’s small answer. How did she, without a doubt, always know what was best for him?
“We should- Achoo!” Pablo rumbled
Giggles arrived at their throats yet again.
“Take her back to the shelter?” Rina asked.
“What she said.” Pablo said to the kitty.
Maybe it was fate for him to have the kitty.
Months Later During Quarantine:
A happy little rat tat tat rang on the front door of Pablo’s new fancy apartment.
When he opened the door, Pablo was not as surprised as Rina. He was fully dressed in a yellow hazmat suit.
“I thought you weren’t worried about Covid?” Rina asked, stunned.
“Oh, this?” Pablo asked, looking down at his not-too-discreet-as-he’d-thought hazmat suit. “I’m not, just- you’ll get it soon.” He added yanking her inside.
“So this is the new place?” asked Rina, surveying his newly purchased apartment.
Gliding his yellow arm toward the stand in the hall he asked, “Can I interest you in a roll of Tooty Fruity Toilet Paper?”
Questioning him, she picked a roll. “Where’d you get 17 rolls of Tooty Fruity Toilet Paper?” She asked, taking a second to count.
“I know a guy,” Pablo answered vaguely. “But I have something I need to show you. Come over here, and stand in front of the door,” he said, guiding her through the apartment. The kitchen was right to the left and then around it was the living room, a room on the far end of the room.
Disappearing into the room a couple silent seconds crept by, before he emerged, coming out backward.
Turning around, he had two precious and familiar kitties in his arms, Rina gave a little whelp of excitement. Grabbing Darkness she snuggled her close to her face. Realizing she exclaimed again, “Did you find that medication?!”
“No,” he said looking a little disappointed. “But I have a feeling that this medicine is going to work.” Grabbing her hand he continued. “And even if it doesn’t, I will find something.”
“I know,” she said with a smile. “So you find a name for this one?” She asked petting Oakley.
“Yes, I do. You know how Donna said that he likes to hide behind things and stare at you. Well he was ignored because he seemed too closed off so, I think Incognito is good for him, but because of his ink splatter pattern fur we’ll call him Inky.”
“It’s perfect!” Rina said, pulling him into a gentle hug so as to not hurt the kittens.
What could be more perfect than this? Rina thought. She had Pablo and Darkness and a little Inky for her family. She had a feeling the happiness had just begun.
Jamy Starling is in 8th grade. Her inspiration for writing stories began when she was little: her dad would tell her stories about a sea cucumber, herself, and four turtles named I got it, I got it, I got it, and I don’t got it. Giggles filled those nights, leading her to dream of magic. At age 6 she wrote her first 2-paragraph story, and since fourth grade, has been hooked on the art of storytelling. Her favorite part of storytelling is finding a spark of inspiration from life that would seem small to the eye and turn it into a story that people might enjoy.