Friendship Funny

Millie tries to open a jar of pickles and breaks into tears. It has been three months since Martin had passed away and little things like him opening jars for her stir memories of him that she just cannot handle. Every night for the past three months, she watches Wheel of Fortune like they always have. Only now, when she gleefully looks to him when she gets the puzzle right, all she sees is an empty chair. It depresses her every time. She asks herself how long the mourning will last, what could possibly fill the void left by her husband and best friend of fifty-three years. Out of frustration and overwhelming sadness, Millie slams the jar on the floor, shattering it, its contents spilling everywhere.

“Way to go, Millie. Now you have a mess to clean up,” she says to herself through her sniffling.

Millie gets the mop and broom. She sweeps up the glass and pickles, laying the dustpan on the counter while she mops up the pickle juice. When she is done mopping, she takes the broken glass outside to the trash. While she is out there, she hears a soft meow. A white cat with green eyes looking a little grubby comes around the corner. Looking up at her, he meows again, affectionately. Millie stoops down to pet the cat who is receptive to the affection, rubbing on her and purring.

“Do you have an owner? I don’t see a collar. Are you hungry,” Millie asks the cat as she stands up.

The cat meows, looking up at her with wide pupils. Millie opens the door and leans down, extending her hand and calls out, “here kitty, kitty.” The cat darts inside.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to feed you,” Millie says before stumbling upon a can of tuna.

The cat begins to impatiently yell as loud as it can as it catches the scent of the tuna. Millie lays down a saucer but can barely get the flakes of fish on it because the cat is gobbling them up as they come out of the can. “Good gracious, kitty. Where are your manners,” Millie asks as she stands and watches the cat eat. “I guess I can’t keep calling you kitty. You need a name. I’m thinking Hellman because you’re white like mayonnaise.”

The cat looks up and licks its chops before returning to its meal.

“Okay, Hellman, you finish that, and I’ll go to PetSmart and get all your little kitty needs.”

Millie goes to town at the pet store, filling her cart. She gets him both dry and moist food to see which Hellman prefers. She gets him an assortment of toys, little jingly balls and catnip mice, a pole with string and a fuzzy bird looking thing on the end. Her treasure find, however, is the self-cleaning litter box. She has to have it regardless of the price. She also picks out a bright blue collar and has a tag with his name on it made at a machine they have in the store. She is ready to leave when she notices they have cats up for adoption.

“I wonder if Hellman would like a friend to play with,” she asks herself.

Millie stops in to see the cats. They are mostly kittens, much smaller than Hellman, except for one. He’s a black tom with yellow eyes. The lady working there says he has been with the shelter for a year, since he was a kitten because people held on to that black cat superstition and didn’t want him. Millie walks to his cage, and he sticks his paw through, reaching for her. “Aw, I’ll take him.”

On the way home, Millie tells the cat, “You’re black like Martin’s favorite jellybeans. I think you’ll make a good Jellybean. Now I got you as a friend for Hellman. He just moved in, so you two need to play nice.”

And that they do. Millie’s heart fills with joy because of their crazy antics, love, and companionship. Taking care of them keeps her busy and gives her purpose. She feeds them and plays with them, always talking to them, and at night they curl up in the recliner with her to watch her programs. “Life is beginning to feel a little sweeter,” she thinks to herself.

Months pass. Millie is helping with a bake sale at the park for the church. The women are selling baked goods to raise money for the youth group so they can go on a camping trip. One of the young girls from the youth group finds a calico down by the creek. She begs and pleads with her mom to keep it, but her brother is allergic, so the answer is no.

“I’ll take her,” Millie says gleefully. “I love cats. She can come stay with me and my two boys. You can come see her whenever your mom says it’s okay.”

“Really,” the excited girl exclaims, handing over the cat.

“What do you want to call her,” Millie asks.

“Lyla. Do you think that’s a good name?”

“I think that’s the perfect name. Lyla it is.”

Six months go by. Millie's granddaughter comes for a visit.

“We’ve been evicted, grandma. We have another place lined up, but they don’t take pets. Since you love your cats so much, would you be willing to take in Bossy and Sassy.”

“I’d love to take in your little fur babies,” she says, excitedly.

Millie's house begins to look more like the cat’s than hers. There are multiple cat trees, litter boxes in just about every room, scratching posts in every corner, toys everywhere, including under the fridge where the cats sit and stare. The cats act like siblings. They play together, but there are also fights that Millie has to break up. She feels like a mother again, and it makes her feel younger.

The adoption agency is back at PetSmart. Millie makes the mistake of ‘just looking’. She finds a little orange tabby whose head is too big for its body and its ears too big for its head. It is just a kitten and squeaks a funny little meow at her as soon as she walks in. She decides there will be no harm in playing with it for a minute. The little guy thinks he’s big, pouncing everywhere like a tiger, but also nuzzling like a softy every time he is near her. She falls in love with him, taking him home to be part of the family, naming him Quacky for his funny little meow.

You can find the cats curling up in chairs, climbing on the counters, zooming through the hall and up and down the stairs, or sitting in the window. They are a handful, but very entertaining and very affectionate in their calmer moments. She talks to each one every day, calling them by name. She makes sure each one gets time with momma. They are her babies.

Thanksgiving rolls around and the great grandkids help decorate the tree. The cats are mesmerized. Twinkling lights and bright colored balls are too much for all six cats to resist. As Millie sleeps, the cats play. They slap at the ornaments and pull on the garland. Quacky climbs the tree. Hellman jumps up to attack him and the whole tree comes tumbling down with a crash. Cats go scurrying everywhere as Millie’s footsteps can be heard pounding on the stairs. Only Quacky is left sitting there to take the blame.

Every day is an adventure for Millie and her six cats, that become seven when one is dumped on her doorstep. All seven of them share their love, eight after Millie’s friend Morine passes away and she takes in her cat. All eight bring joy back into Millie’s life, nine when she hears they are going to euthanize a cat if they don’t find it a home. All nine fill that void she felt after the death of her beloved husband, ten after one wanders in weeks before Millie passes away in her sleep, joining her husband in the world beyond.

May 26, 2024 19:18

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Beverly Goldberg
21:56 Jun 02, 2024

Charming--but what happens when she's gone. Oh my, allergic me wanting to take care of her ten furry friends?


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Helen A Smith
20:10 Jun 02, 2024

Where’s this going to end? What on earth will she do if one of them has kittens? Oh, my!!! 🐈‍⬛🐈‍⬛🐈‍⬛ Fun story and look how they helped her.


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Mary Bendickson
06:21 May 28, 2024

Always room for one more.😽


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Trudy Jas
00:09 May 28, 2024

Part addiction, part be careful what you wish for. LOL And a few prompts back: It's all fun and games, till two cats don't get along. Gotta love cats, though. Fun story, Ty.


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Hannah Lynn
19:44 May 26, 2024

Cats, cats everywhere! I know a lot of people who are addicted to just one more cat! Fun story :)


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