Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GRATE (11/19/15)
By Holly Westefeld
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Her face lit up, and her clear green eyes twinkled. "Thank you, young lady. You are a God-send!"
My stomach flipped. No one had called me a God-send since my mom. Alex hadn't believed in God, but for some reason I could no longer remember, I had chosen him over my family.
When I went out to run errands on Saturday, she wasn't there, and I wondered if something had happened to her, or she had moved on. I proceeded, though, knowing that someone could benefit from my purchases. As I returned, however, there she was, in the same turquoise hoodie, reading by the glow of the street light.
I dropped my own backpack on the other side of the grate, handing her one of two deli bags. "May I join you for dinner?"
"Um, sure. Thank you so much!"
As she closed her book, I saw that it was a pocket New Testament. Then I noticed a charcoal kitty uncurl from her lap and sniff the bag. "Yes, Cloud, I'll share, but let's thank God for it first."
I bowed my head and she gave thanks.
"I'm Marcie, and as you heard, this is Cloud. She's not really my cat to name. She just showed up here to share this warmer spot today." She unwrapped her sandwich and gave Cloud a piece of warm turkey.
"Dana, would you consider taking in a homeless cat?"
With my mouth full, I shrugged. "I don't know... I'm not home much, but I'll think about it."
Cloud came over and rubbed my legs, rewarded with some of my turkey. When I finished, I stood and opened my backpack, removing a coat, gloves, and warm socks. "These are for you, Marcie."
Her eyes grew wide. "Thank you, but why?"
"Because it's not getting any warmer around here."
"True. I've been trying to hold out going to a shelter. This will really help."
"Let's have dinner at my place tonight, Marcie. You can sleep on the sofa, and we can share Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow." She looks down at Cloud, about whom I had given her no answer. "Yes, Cloud can come, and stay."
She tucks her Bible away, puts on the backpack, and tucks Cloud inside her coat. I lead the way to my building. "Perhaps we should take the stairs. I'm only on the third floor, and the elevator makes a horrid grating sound that might scare Cloud."
After dinner, Cloud snuggles on my lap as we watch preparations for the Thanksgiving Day parade. She is not as skinny as I would expect an abandoned cat to be, and when I feel distinct wiggles beneath my fingers, I realize why. I narrow my eyes at Marcie. "Did you know Cloud is expecting?"
"No. I would not have asked you to take her..."
Her body language rings true. "It's okay. It will be a good distraction for the holidays, and I may know some people at work who may be interested." Despite myself, I choke up and burst in to tears.
"I'm so sorry. I didn't know."
"It's okay. That's not it." I share a brief summary of my last few months, getting a great job right out of college, getting an apartment with Alex, him threatening to leave if I didn't "take care of it," and then leaving anyway because "your moroseness is grating on me." "So I would have been due about the same time as Cloud."
"I understand." I look, and see that there are tears in Marcie's eyes. "I've been in similar situations. The first time, I did the same. The second, I found a ministry that supported me through the adoption process."
"I so wish I had done that. I am adopted, and my parents always called me a God-send."
Marcie looks wistful. "My daughter's birthday is February tenth..."
I do a double-take. "That's my birthday, 1993."
Marcie stands, removes her hoodie, so for the first time I see not just her green eyes, but also the heart shape of her face, and chestnut curls. I pull my phone from my pocket, unblock my parents' number, and tap call.
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