Continued from the Yellow Monster Part 2
A New World
“Is she coming yet?” Asked Caramel. A bit annoyed, I turned towards her. She’s always so impatient, wanting things to happen at once! But the sight of her slim, slightly scrawny little body shivering in the rain made me feel sorry. I would do anything to help her!
“She’ll come, don’t worry” I replied, not believing it myself.
I kept waiting further although I too felt exhausted, cold and above all hungry. It was raining more and more and I could barely see anything at the distance. I started to consider retrieving back with my sister to our refuge, to the pile of wood logs.
But oh wait! Wasn’t this a shape of a person in the curtain of rain? It was moving, approaching fast. Could it be her, the lady from the magical garden? Was she bringing us food? Hesitant, and a bit frightened, I slipped between the bars of the gate, back to the waste ground, to my sister.
Only few seconds later, she was standing in front of us.
And she seemed so happy! “Babies, my little darlings! Here you are, finally!” she exclaimed and started to unpack her bag “Poor babies, you must be so hungry! Come, I brought you lots of delicious things to eat, you’d like it!”
She pulled out a plate and filled it with kibbles and ham. We were trampling the mud, our little tongues were licking our lips, our mouths were already salivating; we were so impatient! Food! I wanted to leap forward and to eat, eat, eat!
Only, there was a problem: the plate was on the wrong side of the gate! It was placed on the pavement and not on our waste ground! I had never been out on the pavement when she was with us, I had never been close to her, nor to any human. Maman said they could be dangerous.
And our dinner stood right at the feet of our lady from the magical garden! Was she dangerous, too? Ah, if only maman would be here, she would bring the food to us like she used to do when we were little!
I was like a diver who has to decide whether or not to dive into the unknown. I didn't look at my sister, but I could feel her shaking with anticipation, her body firmly pressed against mine. Suddenly and somewhat contrary to my will, I dashed out, on the pavement. The call for food had overtaken my mind.
My sister followed me and we started to gobble the delicious dinner, our first meal since many, many days.
Just when we really began to enjoy it, two hands grabbed us both. Friends, this was a betrayal, a treachery! When maman told me to beware from humans, I should know better! Hopefully my sister managed to slip down and ran away. I heard her screaming, calling me, meowing, while I was hold firmly, unable to free myself and no matter how hard I squirmed.
Before I knew it, I found myself inside a handbag, with just enough air to breath, yet tightly closed. I fought as mad inside the little space! I banged and scratched, cried and meowed. I called “Maman! Caramel!”, I was terribly scared.
But the torture didn’t last long and before I understood what was really happening to me, I was out!
Yes! The handbag opened into a bright light. I was so dazed that at first, I didn’t move. What was this new small space around me? Had the world shrunk in such short period of time? Yet there was no time for deep thinking, I had to go out of here! I jumped on the floor and started to run. But how strange! I had taken only a few steps when my head hit something hard - a wall! I ran in the opposite direction and the same thing happened; my head hit a wall again! And then a glass door and another one! It seemed that this world was made up of doors and walls and no matter how much I hit them with my head, none of them would give way!
My head started aching. I was totally lost; I couldn't even remember how I got to this strange place! Then two hands picked me up, this time holding me very tenderly. Will I be stuffed into a bag again? Frightened, I closed my eyes. But a smell I knew reached my nostrils, a soft warmth enfolded me and I recalled everything. I remembered the days we were hungry on the waste ground, all tree, maman, Caramel and I, and she came with plenty of delicious food, wearing this same smell, spreading the same warm feeling around us. There was no reason to be frighten anymore. It was her, our lady from the magical garden, the one who always brought food, the one who talked to us so gently.
I decided to give her a kiss on her neck. And yet another one, on her nose, and one more on her cheeks. She kissed me back and it was a tit for tat: we swapped one, two, three, hundred kisses! I knew I was cherished and she was my mum. This strange space with doors and walls was my new shelter, and at the first sight, it seemed better as the pile of wood logs or a burrow in the park.
Mum dried my fur, offered me warm milk and a plate of ham, and installed me into a cozy basket.
“Sleep well”, she said, “I’m going back now to look for your sister”. And she left.
Oh, I wasn’t frightened! I just felt happy with my belly full and my body comfy in a basket, wrapped in soft blankets.
I had no doubt, soon my sister will be with me again, soon we will be reunited.
But it didn’t happen that way, at least not for a very long time.
Let’s mum tell further; she knows this part better.
In Search of Caramel
That night, I went back to the waste ground, hoping to find the second kitten. The rain had stopped in the meantime, the sky was starting to clear up and even a star or two showed up. Good omen, I thought, it felt like they were cheering me. I had little hope to find Freddy’s sister that same night - she had probably been too frightened. Despite this I hoped she would at least come to finish her dinner. Disappointingly, I noticed, the plate was still full of food. I stood on the pavement some time, knowing it was in vain, then returned home. I felt happy for having saved at least one of them. She’ll come the next night or the night after, I thought. Now that she knows I’m around, she’ll show up, sooner or later.
The next day, I took Freddy to the vet. He got his vaccinations and the vet got rid him of the ticks and fleas. The kitty, he said, although a bit too thin, was in good health.
Back home I introduced the kitten to the other cats in the house, my eight Maine Coons. I feared he would be afraid of those big furry creatures and stayed close, ready to pull him away. But what happened was exactly the opposite and I saw an enchanting scene. Freddy, a master of charm, went from one Maine Coon to another, bent his head and stuffed it under their chin, between their long paws, waiting to be licked. When he got his kiss, he rubbed his cheek against the cat and moved to another one, to repeat the performance. They all welcomed him warmly.
Mammy cat Tahiti was especially happy; she had recently lost her dearest son, Maxi and now, seeing the little baby, she thought she got a new son. For her, he was in a way a present sent from the sky, a reward for so much suffering. She washed the kitten’s fur all over from top to the tail, she kept on kissing him, wrapped her paws around him, pushed a plate of food towards him, she gave him thousand nose brushes.
All my Maine Coons were delighted on the arrival of the new family member. It was such a pleasure to see how they all loved the little boy from the start and wanted to take care of him! Vanille would play with him whole day; Vicky brought one stuffed mouse after another and placed them in front of the little one; daddy cat Uddy called him whenever the food was served; Panda rushed to save him when Freddy climbed on the patio fence and couldn’t get down. And when there was a time for nap, they all came and lay down around him, as to protect the tiny kitty with their huge furry bodies. Freddy himself, quickly formed preferences. He loved above all mammy cat Tahiti and daddy cat Uddy, always seeking their presence, and tried to bury his tiny body into their long, soft fur. If they were not available, the alternative was Vicky.
I felt guilty for having let Caramel escape from my hands – I was already holding her! How could she possibly slip away? And why did she never come back for food?
I kept going to the waste ground night after night. I called and waited, sometime for a really long time. It was more complicated now because the owner of the land had erected very high fences around it and barricaded the big gate with boards. I couldn't see what was going on inside. It became impossible to slide a saucer under the gate, in case the little one would come looking for food. The only option was to leave a small heap of kibbles on the side of the pavement, but they were just scattered around the next day. Where could she be? It was unlikely that she had strayed far, she seemed much more fearful than Freddy, she always used to stay behind him. I started my investigation tour again, knocking on doors and disturbing our neighbours.
“Have you seen a little kitten roaming here around? Could you please look thoroughly in your garden? Under the bushes, inside the hedges? Will you, please? Oh wonderful, a thousand thanks!”
And again, I left my mobile phone number everywhere. What a shame that I never took any pictures of them while they were on the waste ground and was unable to show now how Caramel looked like!
All my searches remained fruitless. Then one day, a neighbour told me that a lady had mentioned at the bakery she had found a little starved kitten on the pavement, and had taken it home. He himself didn’t know that person and was unable to say where she lived, or what colour was the kitty she picked up.
As there aren’t many starved kittens wandering around, I had good hope it could be Freddy’s sister.
However, only a few days later I heard desperate meows in the garden. It was Caramel's voice! She has a very distinctive voice - you can't mistake her for any other cat. I rushed outside and saw her little figure in the rhododendron bush. She looked totally frightened. With every step I took forward, she retreated further inside the flower bed.
I hurried back to the kitchen to get some food, I thought a bit of ham or chicken would bring her out of her hiding place. But when I came back, she was gone. I called, I searched, I watched for hours, hoping for her return.
After that unexpected but blissful meeting that lasted only few minutes, I felt deeply depressed. When I saw her inside the flower bed, my heart leapt with joy, an immense pleasure overflooded me. I felt so relieved, I had finally seen her, I thought, now they would both be safe, both with me. But it wasn’t to be – not yet at least. My feelings, my bond with these two kittens went beyond all logic. Was it because they too felt the same?
We didn’t see Caramel for a very long time. Instead, someone else had returned - I let Freddy to tell you who.
Of course, I should have been the happiest of cats, now! I had a new family, I had not one but two mums (mammy cat Tahiti and mum) and I even had two daddies (daddy cat Uddy and a human dad)! Everyone loved me and I loved them all. I played, raced from one room to another, rushed up and down the stairs; I was basking in the sun on the patio when the weather was nice and slept on the soft beds in bad weather. And I had plenty of delicious food at my disposal and thousand toys! Any cat would be delighted to be so pampered and loved.
But I'll tell you a secret: I would have preferred to be outside, in our tiny house under the fir tree, with my beautiful black maman and my sister Caramel. I missed them so much!
In my new home, there is glass door, leading to the veranda, from where I could see stray cats coming to claim their dinner, in the evenings. I would sit there and keep watch – maybe one day, my maman would come too? She must be very hungry by now! I knew this was the house where she used to come for food, when we were little; it had the same warm smell, and it looked like how she described it in her tales. So why she didn’t come now, would she ever come? How desperate I was to see her again! I can’t count the number of times I dreamt she was close to me, holding me, embracing me with her paws!
I looked and looked for her and then one evening, I suddenly spotted her black head just in front of me, on the other side of the glass door.
She didn’t notice me; she ate hastily from a plate as she must be starved. I started to bang the glass, scratching it with my paws; I jumped up and down, trampled the floor and cried “Maman, maman, maman!” as loud as I could. I wanted to go out by all means, my maman came to fetch me, she found me, I had to go to her!
I cried so hard, so vehemently that mum came running down the stairs to see what was going on. She knelt beside me, cuddling me, talking softly to me “You can't go Freddy, you'll want to follow your maman and maybe she won't wait for you, you might be lost again. My darling baby stay here, my poor little boy. . .”
But I didn’t want to understand; I sobbed and lamented more and more. Mum, perceiving my great distress, did not have the courage to hold me apart from my maman anymore. With tears in eyes, she agreed to open the door.
I dashed out, I rolled in front of maman, just under her chin, at her paws. I screamed all the words of love I knew, “maman darling, maman chérie, my little maman! I love you; I love you so much, maman chérie!”
But then something strange happened. Instead of a kiss, a nice word, a brush, my maman gave me a big slap. Did she no longer recognize me? “Go away!”, she exclaimed, growling and swiped my head. Bewildered, I cried “But maman, it’s me, your Freddy! I love you so much!”
She looked at me with angry eyes, impatiently pushed me away, hit me several times and ended by biting my back before running away. I cried, it hurt! I was so stunned that I remained crouched on the ground, unable to move. Mum shouted “No!” and jumped out. She scooped me up from the ground and while cuddling me, took me back into the house.
Mum and I, we remained like this, cuddling more than an hour. I was sitting in her lap, sobbing and mum kept kissing and embracing me. She explained that my maman loves me but she knows I have to stay here, in my new home. It’s a very nice home, I’m cared for, I’m loved, I’m a little prince. This is exactly what my maman always wished for me and she’s happy to know me here. So I mustn’t ever follow her, I have to stay. This is what she had wanted me to understand when she bit me. She scratched me because she wanted the best possible future for me, but she still loves me, truly.
I understood every little word mum said and next time my maman came to dine, I just said “Hello maman” through the glass door and wandered away, to play with daddy cat.
It was one summer afternoon, that I spotted her. I was playing in the garden, trying to catch a butterfly, when suddenly I saw a shape, a little form under mum’s car. Approaching, I was able not only to see it was a cat, but also who it was.
“Caramel?” I cried. “Sis, have you finally come?”
“Freddy!” My sister wanted to crawl towards me, to come to greet me but she hadn’t enough strength, she collapsed before being able to get out from under the car. I called mum by meowing very loudly. She came running out of the house, believing that something bad happened to me. “Mum, Caramel is here!” I cried and pointed my head in the direction of my sister under the car. Mum went on her knees, reached under and here she was, my sister, poor little thing in such a bad shape!
In fact, she was hardly recognizable. If it hadn’t been for her distinctive meows, mum might have doubted it was Caramel. As for me, I knew who she was, of course. She was far smaller than me because she hadn’t managed to get enough food to grow. Her coat was dirty, full of mud and dust, and worse still, someone had put a collar around her neck that was so tight and so firm that it seemed to be strangling her. I wondered how she was still able to breathe. I gave her a kiss and then let mum take her inside. My sister needed urgent help.
I didn’t see her anymore that day. Mum had taken her to the vet and Caramel had to stay there for “observation”. To be honest, I’m not sure what does this mean but there it is. Anyway, after a day, she was back and we were finally able to celebrate. We sat on the mum’s garden table, and mum brought us plates of food, an assortment of the best she had in the fridge – tuna, roast chicken, treats, cats’ milk, kibbles and ice cream! What a feast! For hours, we talked, relating to each other everything that had happened while we were apart. Caramel told us she was adopted by a bad family; they kept her closed in a small room, often forgot to bring her food. The family kids treated her badly. Finally, they dumped her back on the street and she wandered around for weeks, looking for me.
My sister remains deeply affected by the events that had happened to her. Despite mum's best efforts she refuses to enter the house and to stay inside. She has deep fear of some closed spaces, of all strangers and is terribly afraid of other cats, especially of mum’s giant Maine Coons. But they are so gentle, so happy when another cat comes to visit! I tried all I could to make her understand, to no avail. No one knows the dreadful torment she must have lived through, how much suffering she had suffered.
As a result, mum arranged for her a living in the garden as best as she can. For example, Caramel only feels safe when she is perched on the window sill of the garage – so mum had lined it with soft felt; my sister spends her days resting on it, only coming down to eat or sleep. From her ‘refuge’ she talks non-stop to mum and to myself, whenever we come to keep her company; and we come often! Nights, she sneaks into the garage through a half-open window and from there further into the workshop where she has a dedicated and safe space of her own. But when the weather is fine, she preferers to retreat to the garden glass house where Mum has made a cosy nest for her.
How many times I tried to get her to come with us, to join us watching the hedges, exploring the surrounding, to play a game of ‘catch me if you can’ or ‘hide and seek’, as we used to do on our waste ground! She always refuses. Mum said we should let her live her own life as she wants it. Important is that she is finally with us and happy. By the way, from the tiny, dirty kitten I spotted under mum’s car, my sister grew into shiny, beautiful, large cat! She’s almost bigger than I! But I’m not jealous, I love her. I still hope she would one day accept to enter the house without panicking and come to nap with me on mum’s bed.
Mum herself is so glad to have us both with her! She said she had never had a cat for which she had done so much research, experienced so much despair and yearned and hoped for so much!
Our black maman came to eat in the garden too, from time to time. And while mum was planning to trap her to take her to the vet to “neuter” her, our maman guessed it. She disappeared during several weeks. When finally, she came back, her belly was all round from new kitties – my brothers and sisters, said mum.
But that's another story I'll tell you next time.
All is well that ends well, goes the French saying. All well? Not quite! There is a flaw in my enchanted world: the Yellow Storm Monster is still around!
It still looks for us from time to time, when he remembers us. When I nap or play or eat, he comes from nowhere. “Where are they”, it thunders from the sky. “Where is that Freddy with his sister, I gobble them up!” And it sends lightning bolts across the sky to recognize us better. Between you and me, it must be a bit short-sighted, but don’t tell it I said that! When it comes, I hide under mum's bed, or better still, on the top shelf of the dressing room, under a thick blanket. Ha! He'll never find me.
And besides, we have nothing to fear now. We’re mum’s kids.