Someone left a kitten in the parking lot where I work.
She was skin and bones, and all alone.
They left her with two cans of food,
apparently thinking she would have no problem finding her own nourishment
once their generous supply ran out.
I loved her instantly.
I wanted nothing more than to protect her,
but she was afraid.
It took work to earn her trust.
Days of sitting in gravel, baking in the sun, befriending the bees.
I opened cans full of food that stank like tuna,
scattered them around the field, and sat quietly.
I didn’t watch her as she ate. One glance in her direction, and she would bolt
as far as her bony legs and sunken skin would take her.
Instead, I would look at the sky and sing,
or tell her about my day,
or sometimes just enjoy the quiet breeze with her.
I continued this ritual twice a day, every day.
Even when I was so exhausted all I wanted to do was crawl into bed
after a long day of work.
She wasn’t gaining weight, and I refused to give up on her.
In the meantime, I memorized her hideouts.
Took note of every hole in the fence. As if somehow I could protect her
by knowing where she would escape to.
After day four, she disappeared.
She didn’t show up to the scattered cans in the morning.
She didn’t touch the cleverly placed treats near the holes in the fence.
My heart sank. I mourned her absence.
My coworkers didn’t understand;
they used words like “feral” and “stray,”
but I knew differently.
I knew she depended on me, even if she didn’t like me.
I knew her world had been turned upside down.
She wasn’t born wild.
I tried to forget her, but I still found myself showing up to work early,
walking the grounds, checking each hole in the fence.
After three days without her, magic happened.
While walking through the dirt, sending all of my hope into the universe,
I heard the tiniest noise.
And she appeared, from under rocks,
looking smaller than ever.
But I could see it on her face–
she knew me.
Ran to me.
She meowed as I sobbed,
and my clumsy fingers couldn’t open the cans of smelly food fast enough.
That was the day I became her person.
The day a cat who wasn’t born wild tamed a girl who was.
She is loved now.
And she knows she will never be hungry again.