A winter came and went before someone moved into Number 55, Greenborough Circle. At the end of June, a large moving van pulled up in front of the house. The neighbours watched from behind shuttered and curtained windows as a houseful of goods was unloaded. A thin, yellow tabby also watched from the shelter of the cedar hedge behind the tool shed. The quiet of the empty house and yard had made the shed a safe haven for the stray. She had wintered there, sliding in and out through a gap between the door and its frame.
The house was stale with the scent of despair and loneliness. The human who had once occupied it had been gone for a long, long time, even before physically abandoning its rooms.* As windows and doors sprang open to receive the new occupants, the house seemed to take a deep, relieved, breath.
“But I measured …” protested Thomas Tibbits.
“…the doors, not width of the curve in hall,” finished his wife, Sarah.
Their king-size bed wouldn’t make the corner. They ended up parking the mattress and the box spring in the garage.
Once the truck was unloaded, the movers backed it out of the driveway and headed out to the main road. Quiet again reigned on the Circle though chaos still ruled in the house, as boxes and bags were shuffled around and unpacked.
The only useable beds were those belonging to Jason and Michael, the Tibbits’ sons. As soon as the delivery pizza had been consumed, they were sent off to get reacquainted with them.
“And, what about us, dear?” said Sarah sweetly, “now that we can’t get our bed down the hall.”
“We’ll sleep on the hide-a-bed. It’s set up in the guest room. Tomorrow I’ll figure out how to get the mattress and box spring around the corner.” Thomas was, after all, an engineer. It would be embarrassing if he couldn’t come up with a solution.
“Uh-huh,” Mrs. Tibbits said. She was already wondering how to turn the garage into a master bedroom.
Exhaustion and excitement brought on deep and dreamless sleep for all the members of the Tibbits’ household on that first night. No one heard, or felt, the stealthy entrance of the tabby, just a bit before dawn arrived to welcome a new day of moving-in madness. She had cautiously slunk across the yard and entered through the open kitchen window. The cat had never been in the house before and her natural curiosity overcame her.
Later that morning, Sarah worked at organizing the kitchen and the boys occupied themselves in their bedrooms, making their own creative design disaster out of the contents of their boxes and bags. Thomas folded the hideaway up with a sigh of satisfaction. Tonight they would sleep in their own room on their own mattress. By the end of the day, 55 Greenborough Circle looked more like a home and less like a landfill.
The enclave of Greenborough Circle was made up of older ranch-style houses, built when recreation rooms were relegated to the basement. Sarah Tibbits had already decided that the spare bedroom upstairs could play that role in their lives while they worked on some home improvement in the lower regions of the house. The boys happily settled in to watching television and playing computer games from the comfort of the sofa-cum-bed.
It was Michael, in one of those rare quiet moments in what was temporary designated as the family room, who first saw it.
“Mom, come quick, there’s a snake in here.” After the words left his mouth, Michael repented of them. Mom was not the one to call about snakes. Happily, Thomas, still on holidays from work while he got their new home in order, was the one who responded to the call. Sarah was right behind him—emphasis on the “behind.”
“Where’s this snake?” questioned Thomas.
“There,” said Michael, pointing to the bottom corner of the sofa bed. The tip of a long, thin, “something” was visible. It twitched, and Sarah let out a high squeak.
Thomas approached, his mind accessing stored memories.
“Relax,” he said. “There are no poisonous snakes in this area.”
The “something” twitched again, and Thomas drew back in horror.
“It’s not a snake, and it’s INSIDE the sofa bed,” he exclaimed. It didn’t take an engineer to know that inside a sofa bed there isn’t any room for anything except, well, the mattress and the springs that make up the bed part of the dynamic sleeping duo.
Fearing what could await them all, Thomas carefully removed the cushions from the sofa, handed them back to his wife, and then pulled on the tab that released the bed.
Hours later, a somewhat flattened tabby purred contentedly in Michael Tibbits’ lap.
“How did she get in there?” queried Jason.
“I guess she came in the night your mom and I had to sleep on the hideaway. She must have sought shelter under the sofa while the bed was still unmade. When I started to fold it back up, she was too frightened to come out and got stuck between the springs and the back of the sofa.”**
“Why didn’t she cry?” asked Michael.
His mother raised her eyebrows in mock incredulity as she looked over at her youngest.
“And, you two would have heard her with the television at full volume, or with that silly music playing that accompanies your computer games? If she hadn’t managed to get her tail out, we wouldn’t have noticed her until …” Sarah voice trailed off. The thought was too gruesome to contemplate.
Jason looked over at the sleeping tabby. “So, do we keep her, or what?”
Thomas rubbed his chin, exchanging a meaningful glance with his wife.
“Well, we’ll have to check to make sure she doesn’t belong to any of our new neighbours first. I doubt it, considering how thin she is, and the absence of a tag. I guess we owe her that much since we squashed her in a sofa bed for two days without food and water…”
“…And jumped on her,” added Sarah.
“…But you guys will have to look after her,” their father continued.
Jason tried for a “It-really-doesn’t-matter-to-me” look, while Michael’s enthusiasm threatened to pop him, and the cat, out of the recliner appropriated for the cat’s “healing” process.
So it was that a stray tabby found a new home at Number 55, Greenborough Circle. They named her, “Tibby,” though Michael created a computerized pedigree for her and carefully wrote out “Tibby Tibbits’ Tail” on the certificate. Love is sometimes spelled with three T’s.
And Tibby? Well, according to her new family, she became the best cat in the world. She was no fool: The house was certainly a long step up from the tool shed.
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourself were suffering” —Hebrews 13:2-3.
See The Greenborough Circle Chronicles, Buster’s Bones for details
* Based on an actual happening
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