Something New

16/09/2014 07:57

This story was written in response to a prompt at Black Ship Books. Hope you enjoy!


“Watch where you're putting your feet!” cried my husband as I walked into the kitchen.

I immediately looked at the floor, expecting to see a puddle or some other kind of mess. The floor was perfectly clean. I looked up at him and shrugged. “What's the problem?”

Now it was his turn to look down. “Can't you see it?”

“See what?!” I asked, caught between frustration and amusement.

He scanned the floor and pointed under one of the chairs. I followed the line of his finger and then I saw it. Peeping around the leg of the chair was a small black face surrounded by a halo of fluff.

“Oh, baby!” I exclaimed, dropping to my knees and scooping up the newest member of our family, a tiny kitten with a face like a bat and about half its body-weight made up of fur. It blinked up at me with golden eyes, its mouth opening to reveal a pink tongue and sharp, white teeth.

“Where did it come from?” I asked, tickling it under the chin to be rewarded with my first purr.

“A friend of my brother's brought it round. Someone she knew had kittens and she'd heard we wanted one. She said it's a boy and he's five weeks.”

I pulled a doubtful face. “Bit young.”

“Let's call it Boris!”

I gave him 'the glare', the one that meant 'what on earth are you thinking about?'. “Boris? Where did you get Boris from?”

“After Karloff. It's a black cat, like it belongs in a horror film.”

I rolled my eyes but I well understand my husband's love of old horror films. I gazed into the kitten's eyes. “Boris?” I asked, and received a mew in reply. “Boris it is,then.”

The next problem was food. We still had the dishes our old cat had used. She had passed away a month earlier and we had been living with a cat-shaped hole in our family ever since. It looked as if this little ball of fluff was going to fill it, with fur if nothing else.

I returned Boris to the floor whilst I dug out the dishes. Suddenly, four sets of needles dug into my leg and I screamed. The kitten had attached himself to my leg and was now clambering its way up. It got stuck somewhere near my hip and I detached it with difficulty.

My husband was doubled over with laughter. “I'm so happy you're amused by my pain,” I said.

“It looked just like King Kong climbing the Empire State Building,” he gasped, between guffaws.

Realising that I was not going to get any sympathy from that quarter, I placed the kitten on my shoulder. He was uncertain for a moment but then gained confidence and walked along to my neck and began nuzzling against my neck. “Right, let's get those dishes out.”

I found them at last and filled one with water and placed bowl and kitten next to each other. Boris approached the bowl which was as tall as his legs, stretched his neck forward and, unable to work out where the surface of this clear liquid was, dunked his whole face under the surface. He came up spluttering and looking at the water as though it had attacked him.

My husband was laughing again but I got down and offered all my sympathy, knowing how cats hate to be laughed at. He tried again and managed a few laps. The main problem now was that he could barely reach over the bowl but I reckoned that, like children, he would grown.

“I'll have to run to the shop and get some food,” I said, grabbing my bag. By the time I got back, the kids were home from school and were both smothering their baby brother with love. Our daughter was a toddler when we got our first cat and our son was not yet born, so this was the first pet they had really known.

Boris did indeed grow. He also turned out to be a she. We tried calling her Doris for a bit but it never stuck, so we now have a female cat called Boris – Bo-Bo for short. Ten years later, I am typing this account of her first day with us with her curled up on my lap.