Something Old, Something New
His fur is soft. It sifts around my fingers as I stroke his back. He turns his head to look at me, and his eyes are big, the pupils wide in the dim light of the room.
“Hold on bud,” I tell him, whispering into one ear, as if the words would have any meaning to his tiny feline brain. He snaps his tail in response, thudding it on the pillow that cushions his long and skinny body.
We sit in the waiting room, alone, except for a pair of shiny dark eyes that look out from under the bottom shelf of the coffee table. I stare back. The eyes blink, just once, then keep their stare, as if waiting for some code from me to guarantee a safe scoot from there to an even safer domain.
A long low meow comes from the carrier where Jake sits and waits his turn.
“It’s okay bud,” I talk to the carrier, the lid off so I can watch him closely. As if on cue, the shiny dark eyes below the table blink once more. Then a thin black coat of fur slinks from under it, to under my chair.
“Oh, I see you met Rascal.” A woman’s voice comes from down the hall, her shoes hard against the wood flooring. “He’s new here, abandoned, so we took him in. At least until we can find a home for him.” She walks over to Jake’s carrier and frames his face with her hands.
“This is the patient?” she asks, “And what are his symptoms.”
“Well,” my voice is shaky. It’s hard to get the words out. “He’s old, too old now,” I say to the air. “I think it’s time.”
She pulls his long skinny body from the carrier, and cradles him against the stained lab coat. “Yes,” is all she says.
“Out from under there Rascal,” I sweep the broom under the bed, tapping against the dark fur. All I can see are shiny glass eyes staring back at me. “C’mon, or we leave without you,” which I’m guessing is his preference. He comes toward me, the eyes getting bigger as he crawls nearer. I scoop him up and cuddle his now well fed body. He pushes his head against my neck and a soft purr sounds from his throat. On the wall, another wide round pair of eyes stare at me from a silver framed photo, the big orange face from a younger time.
“It’s okay Jakey,” I say to the picture, as the black body I’m holding struggles to get down and toward the heaping food bowl before we head out. I stare at the picture, and push back a tear, but only for a moment. Rascal slides across the wood floor to his food bowl and misses. And life goes on.
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