The large orange ball glowed in the sky …
The sun was pouring in through the big glass doors that opened up into the backyard. I could feel its warmth on my face, which was a good thing because that meant the white stuff was over. Mommy called this time of year, Spring. Even the word sounded nice. Spring! It made me feel like bouncing around the house.
The cats and I were sprawled out, soaking in the golden rays. The peace and quiet of a relaxing May morning was broken by the sound of Yehudi’s nasally New York accent.
“Cindee, why don’t you ever talk about life before coming to this pack?” she asked
I was silent for a minute, thinking of the right words to say. I could feel a teardrop starting to form in my eye then it escaped down my cheek.
“It’s kind of complicated Yehudi,” I answered her, trying my best to remain composed.
“Yehudi!” Rapi shouted at the little black cat with a vigorous shake of his head, doing his best to try to warn Yehudi off. Yehudi was young and curious. She meant no harm in her question. It was just her way of being and I understood this.
Rapi sprung to his feet much quicker than you would expect for a cat his size. His big orange body strolled over and gently He nudged my head with his.
“I am sorry about her, sometimes she can be a little inconsiderate,” he purred in his thick Cuban accent. Yehudi looked stung by his comment. She stood to leave, but I jumped to my feet and headed her off before she had a chance to.
“It’s okay Yehudi, come sit down with me and I will tell you the story about the day I found my forever home.”
With that, we all plopped down on the floor together. All I could think was… what have I got myself into?
The circle was tight, yet cozy
We had all settled in and were comfy cozy. The cats all looked at me intently waiting to hear my story about a life I had never shared with anyone. I took a deep breath and started.
“It was late at night, just hours before my brother and I had found our forever home.”
“You had a brother?” Yehudi asked
“I did,” I said with a smile
“Shhhhhhhhh, let Cindee talk,” Bella hushed Yehudi, anxious to hear my tale.
“This is my story,” I began again. My mind was hazy, like a foggy day outside, but after a few minutes things cleared up and my thoughts came back to me.
It was late at night, just hours before my brother and I found our forever home. I remember the night well. The stars were twinkling in the sky as they looked down at us. The moon was almost full. It felt peaceful, at least for now.
You see, the place we were staying at was always noisy and full of chaos. The mean man, that is what I call him because he was not very nice, and the pretty lady would fight all the time. He would yell at us and he would say bad things to her too. He used words I cannot even think about, little alone say.
That night, the man had been drinking lots of beer and fell asleep on the sofa watching television, so it was quiet. He forgot to feed us though. That happened a lot. So, we were hungry sitting there with the chains around our necks gazing at the sky.
We were tied up to a post inside a fenced in backyard. It was an ugly back yard, no trees or grass. The two of us just stretched out in the dirt and whispered to each other quietly, singing songs we made up until the pretty lady came home.
That’s when the poopie hit the fan!
It seems we have this little thing that runs in the family. When we get happy, we must share it with the world. We jumped up all happy when the pretty lady got home.
“Yippeeeeeeee!” my brother yelled.
“Yahooooooooeeeey!” I shouted back.
We jumped and shouted and high fived all the while the pretty lady was telling us to be quiet.
“Did I mention yet that it also runs in the family that we are terrible listeners too?”
We waked the mean man up with our celebration. He jumped off the sofa and stormed toward us telling the pretty lady to make us shut up.
“What a rude thing to say,” I said to my brother.
He didn’t say anything though. His eyes just got big. I turned just in time to see the mean man coming at us with a broom. He was swinging it wildly at us and just missed hitting my brother in the head. We tried to run but the chains kept us from escaping. Thanks goodness the pretty lady stood in front of us and stopped him from giving us a beating.
The mean man just pulled up his hoodie and growled at us.
“Fix me something to eat will you?” he said to the lady. It was more of an order than a question. She looked to the ground for a minute without answering until he grunted like a caveman at her. She ran off to the house to make him some food, leaving us alone with the mean man.
He pulled a cigarette out of a box, lit it, took a drag off it and blew out a long slow breath. A big cloud of smoke filled the air and burned my eyes. I saw the orange red glow at the tip. My tail went between my legs and I peed myself.
Raindrops of love fell from the sky …
I shook the cobwebs from my brain realizing my three closest friends were standing over me, their tears like raindrops from heaven falling on my face.
All three cats were speechless from my story.
“I … I… I didn’t know,” Yehudi shuddered.
“None of us did my dear,” Bella said, her own voice trembling while trying to console the little black cat who was obviously wracked with guilt about asking me to hear this tale.
Rapi was speechless. He couldn’t force himself to stop kissing my cheeks and ears.
“It’s fine everyone. I am fine. This is all from a long time ago. Besides, it kind of feels good to finally share it with someone after all this time!”
“I still can’t believe it,” Yehudi said in a daze.
“Monsters are real, see I knew there was a good reason for not trusting strangers,” Bella huffed and began prancing like a diva back and forth in front of the doors.
“I know how you feel Bella. After that night I swore I would never trust anyone again. Then something strange happened,” I said with a sly smile.
All three of them turned to face me, each wearing the exact same puzzled look on their face.
Let me tell you the rest of the story …
Teardrops from heaven where falling on my face. The pretty lady was kneeling next to me with her arms around me, her slender body shaking from crying so hard.
“I am so sorry my little babies,” she sniffled between each word.
“I thought for sure you guys would change him. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen to you two precious sweethearts.”
Her body shook more violently. I snuggled into her and kissed her face. Her tears were salty, and I could feel her heart beating against me. It felt broken.
“I know what to do,” she said as she stood resolutely and began walking with purpose towards the garage.
I started to protest but she quickly shushed me. I looked over at my brother, but he had the same questioning look as I did. We watched silently as the pretty lady first put a big box in the car, then a couple of pillows before turning and coming towards us.
She unchained my brother and picked him up.
“What are you doing?” I started to ask, but she just shushed me again.
We all stood dead still when we heard the bed springs start to squeak, but after a few seconds the mean man started snoring again, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
I watched as she took my brother to the car and left him there only to come back and get me. I nuzzled my face into her neck when she picked me up and kissed her face like a crazy dog all the way to the car.
The pretty lady put me gently in the box with my brother and quietly closed the door. She got in the front seat and started the car.
The noise scared the neck out of me. I let out a loud yelp. Then I heard the mean man yelling from inside the house. The pretty lady made the car start moving. I turned around as fast as I could to look out the back window and saw the mean man come out of the door yelling at the top of his lungs.
I just sat in my box watching out the window as the mean man and the house disappeared down the street.
The black sky was starting to turn blue …
The sun still hadn’t come up yet when the pretty lady stopped the car in an empty parking lot. We were at a store that had a red sign on it with white letters.
The pretty lady grabbed a piece of paper from a special hidden box in the front of the car and started writing a letter. When she was done, she turned around to face us, her eyes were red from crying. I wish I could take her hurt away.
“I love you little guys so much. I wish things could have been different,” she said to us, trying as hard as she could to not cry again, but failing.
“I hope you find someone that loves you unconditionally, someone that will give you a good home and a good life.” The pretty lady turned around and covered her face, crying loudly for few minutes.
At the time I didn’t understand why she did it, but I know now that what she did next wasn’t easy for her. She opened the door, grabbed our box and set us down next to the building. Quickly she tucked the paper with the note on it in the box and gave us both a kiss on the top of our heads.
“Don’t forget me … I will never forget you,” she whispered hoarsely before getting in the car and driving away.
“She just left you there?” Bella asked, stunned by the revelation.
“It’s the gosh honest truth,” I told her.
The room was quiet for the time being, save for the sweet sound of bird song filtering in from outside. There were so many questions to be asked and thoughts to be shared, but in that moment all any of us could do was just sit quietly in the moment.
True, those days seemed so long ago, but at the same time they were still alive in me. I mean, I am still a very shy girl. It’s still hard to trust humans. You can’t really tell who wants to be your friend and who doesn’t. They all hide their intentions so well.
Other things are still the same too, like my fear of leaves and being alone and the monster in the basement. Some things that scare me seem so real.
“What are you thinking about Brown Sugar,” Rapi’s rich deep Cuban voice stirred me back into the moment.
I told the same lie that we all tell when confronted with that question.
“Nothing,” I smiled warmly at him.
He smiled and nodded at me knowingly.
“That’s when mommy and daddy found you?” Yehudi asked enthusiastically, the answer seeming like a foregone conclusion.
I shook my head and giggled
That’s when something wild happened
We were all alone sitting in a box in a strange place on the verge of a new day. The first rays of the sun began to peak over the horizon and the blue-black sky was transforming into a blue orange.
“What just happened,” my brother asked, stunned, and shaken by the events of the past few hours.
I was so scared I couldn’t even answer him. My whole body was violently trembling with fear. A strong breeze rolled through the parking lot mussing my hair and causing the leaves on the trees to make hissing sounds like a hoard of wild snakes.
I ducked my head in the box and tried to crawl under the pillows. The note became dislodged and caught by the wind tumbled out of the cardboard container and down the street.
“Make it stop! Make it stop!”
I screamed and pleaded but it didn’t seem to help. My brother snuggled up close to me. It was in that moment that I realized he was terrified too.
“We are alone, all alone,” he stuttered.
My gosh, in all this craziness I hadn’t realized for the first time in our lives we are alone. The idea of being alone paralyzed me. Who is going to take care of us? Who is going to feed us? The worst dread crept over me.
“What’s going to happen to us?” I cried out.
A car swung into the parking lot, its lights washing over our box. I quickly ducked down trying desperately to hide. I lost control and let the panic take over. Involuntarily, I began crying hysterically. My brother tried frantically to quiet me down.
“Shush, the humans will hear you!” he pleaded with me, but it was useless.
It was too late.
“What was that? It sounds like a puppy,” I heard a voice say.
The voice snapped me back to the situation in front of us. We sat in stillness and listed to the footsteps come closer and closer.
“Oh no,” I thought to myself. My worst nightmare is about to happen.
Oh my gosh …
“It is puppies,” the girls voice squealed.
“I wonder who they belong to?” the boy asked as he looked around at the empty parking lot. The only other person to be found was the woman working at the cash register inside the store.
“Why don’t you go inside and see if anyone in there knows about these two cuties,” the girl asked.
Without questioning her, he turned and headed inside the store. While he was gone the girl talked to us in a soft melodic voice. She began to scratch both our heads and sing a song to us. I didn’t know the song, but I liked it. I must admit that while I was scared to death about what was happening, I was also kind of liking it at the same time.
The boy came back just as the girl was finishing her song. I was kind of upset with this guy. Why did he need to interrupt us just when it was feeling good?
“The manager said she doesn’t know anything about dogs in the parking lot, in fact we are the first people in the store this morning. Strange right?” he asked, definitely puzzled by the situation.
“Well, they are coming with us then!” the girl said smiling ear to ear.
“Can you help me get them in the car?” she asked him with a kiss on the cheek.
“How can I refuse that,” he kissed her back
With that we were quickly swept up and into the back seat. I let out a little yelp when the car groaned to life and we started moving.
“I don’t think I could ever get used to this riding thing,” I whispered to my brother.
“I could,” he shouted gleefully.
I watched nervously as he tried to climb out of the box, only to clumsily fall back in. He didn’t give in so easily, quickly struggling back to his feet and attempting to scale the cardboard wall again. All his efforts gained him was another embarrassing tumble backwards into the box where he landed on an awkward angle. Not to be deterred he jumped up and went to work escaping their makeshift home again.
“What are you doing?” I hissed at him.
“I wanna see the world,” he glanced over his shoulder at me.
Seconds later his determination paid off. Falling over the edge of the box he tumbled into the backseat with a crash. In one rapid motion he regained his footing and lunged between the bucket seats before rolling to a stop on the passenger side floor.
The boy reached down and picked up my brother and held him up, so they were nose to nose. My brother unabashedly released a kissy storm on the boy’s face.
“You are so cute little buddy. I am going to keep him!” he said glancing over at the girl. The girl looked over at the boy and giggled.
“Didn’t take long for that little guy to steal your heart did it,” she smiled at him.
“They need a home; you have a home. You too obviously get along, what could be better.” The car pulled into a narrow parking lot and came to a stop.
“Now we just need to find a home for you sweetie pie,” the girl said to me while scratching behind my ear.
The girl pulled out her phone and started to punch in some numbers. I could hear the phone ringing then another voice.
“Ma, you’re not going to believe this …”
Stop I’m gonna get sick …
The one named Ma was an incredibly happy bubbly lady that smiled all the time. Right now, she is playing this game where she holds me in the air with two hands then brings me down really fast and kisses me on the nose. The kisses tickle, but the up and down fills my tummy with butterflies.
“It was mommy,” Yehudi interrupted my story with wild giggles. She was so happy I couldn’t stifle my own laugh.
“Nope, not yet,” I said, bursting her bubble in the process.
“Oh,” the little black cat looked at me, confused.
“I just thought. Well … Mommy plays a game like that with me,” she said, looking a little sad that I hadn’t found Mommy yet.
“It wasn’t Mommy, but she was very important in my story.”
I sat quiet for a moment watching as Yehudi settled back in to hear more of my story. Its true, the bubbly lady was very important. We went inside this building that she called work. It was amazing. It was this room with lots of desks and computers and telephones. It was a big room.
“Oh my god it’s a puppy!” a loud voice called across the room. All the ladies jumped up and came running towards me. I was shaking so bad. Terrible thoughts of being eaten raced through my little mind. They crowded around me and took turns holding me. Some snuggled me while others gave me rubs on my belly. This went on until everybody held me.
One by one they all went back to their desks until it was just Bubbly lady and Curly haired lady. The curly haired lady was gentle and asked bubbly lady lots of questions. Curly haired lady was different. She talked differently than the others and the sound of her talking was like nothing I had ever heard before.
She handed me back to bubbly lady and took some pictures of me. Can you believe It? Pictures! Nobody had taken my picture before.
After this they put me back in my box and went back to work. I quietly sat and watched as they spent the whole day tapping away on the computer and talking on the phone. Occasionally, someone would pass bye, making sure they stopped and talked to me and gave me fabulous tummy rubs. Before I knew it we had all eaten together and the ladies were starting to leave.
“What’s going to happen to me?” I whimpered
“Hey lady, what’s going on?” I asked one lady. She wasn’t much help.
“Have a good night sweetie,” she said in a sing song voice while scratching me under my chin. Now everyone was gone accept bubbly lady and curly hair lady who just stood talking in the corner.
“Hey! Hey you! Hey bubbly lady, what’s going on?” I yelled across the room at her. She looked over her shoulder at me and smiled.
“Oh, thank goodness, she didn’t forget about me,” I thought quietly as I let out a deep breath. I looked on happily as they started walking towards me. Bubbly lady picked me up and held me tightly. Curly hair lady left, and we were alone. I was getting the most amazing snuggles.
Then the door swung open. The curly haired lady was back and standing in the doorway with a big smile on her face. In her hand she held a hangman’s noose. I screamed at the top of my lungs …
“Oh look, she is so happy and excited,” bubbly lady said in her super happy voice.
“Are you crazy you lunatic,” I yelled at the bubbly lady.
I quickly tried to scramble up the side of the cardboard box. I glanced over my shoulder only to see curly hair lady kneeling right behind me clutching the noose in her hand. I squealed then focused all my effort on escaping. Just when I thought I was free I felt the icy hand of death grab me and lift me into the air.
Curly hair lady held me tight in one arm and tried to get the noose around my neck with the other. I kicked and squirmed and yelled. I did everything I could to break free, but this lady had an iron grip.
“Spunky isn’t she,” bubbly lady said with a laugh.
“You monster,” I spat back at her.
“Here, you hold her, and I’ll try and get this around her neck,” Bubbly lady said to Curly hair lady.
Friends, this is the one and only time in my life that bad words have come out of my mouth. I said things about their mommy, I said things about their daddy, I said all kinds of bad words that I am still ashamed of saying. None of those things helped.
The Bubbly lady got the noose around my neck. Just like that I surrendered. My little body went limp in Curly haired lady’s arms. I just lay there, not uttering a single peep, just waiting for death to come and take me.
The ladies congratulated each other on successfully sending a poor innocent puppy dog to the gallows. They hugged each other and said their goodbyes. The door opened and the cool evening breeze blew in, ruffling my hair. Bubbly lady put a hand on each of my cheeks and looked deeply into my eyes.
“You be a good girl for your new mommy,” she said sweetly as she leaned in to kiss my forehead
Rapi said, his jaw hanging open.
“Mommy was the curly haired woman?” Bella blinked in unbelief
“Yahooooooooooooooo!” Yehudi shouted.
I laughed out loud.
“Yep, the curly haired lady was mommy! It turns out that noose, well, it was just a leash. She took me to the car where I met daddy…”
“And that’s when you came home and met Bella and I for the first time,” Rapi interrupted, completing my sentence for me.
“And Cosita and Bennie too,” I answered, my words trailing off into silence, my thoughts turning to my two great friends who are waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge.
Rapi sniffed and fought back the tears.
“The rest is history,” I howled lightening the mood again.
We all sank back into silence.
Alone with my memories, my thought wandered off to the pretty lady. I never have forgotten her. I don’t think about her very often anymore, but I have not forgotten. She did a beautiful thing for me and gave me the best gift ever. She gave me this forever home with mommy and daddy and my friends.
Seeds of light and happiness are often planted in the darkest soil of our lives. I let the thought drift off and fade away like a dandelion seed on a beautiful summer day.
This, my friends, are my memories of the day I found my forever home.