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Miracle


           She was a miracle. I did not know that she was born until I heard a soft mewing coming from the hanging basket in the laundry room. I looked inside. There was a tiny, white kitten lying there, rooting around in search of her mother. Only her tail and the tips of her ears were ginger-coloured. I pushed the basket gently. The kitten mewed louder. Her mother, Soft came rushing in with her eyes opened wide. She ignored me, climbed into the basket and nuzzled her kitten.  I watched in amazement as Soft licked the kitten's rear end before allowing the kitten to nurse.  It started sucking noisily.  Her tiny paws, kneaded around her mother’s teat to promote the flow of milk. I was mesmerized. After the feeding, Soft again licked the kitten’s rear end.  I wondered why she did that so I Googled it. The kitten was too young to pass urine or faeces so the mother stimulated the ano-genital region to facilitate the processes.

           I was happy watching the kitten. I loved cats but my love was put to the test. Soft disappeared after three days. I called her and searched for her for a day. It was in the garden that I found her, dead, with a hole in her neck. I retched and wept. Poor Soft.  A stray dog probably attacked her. I buried her with a heavy heart. How was I going to raise her orphaned kitten? I called the vet. He told me to bring her in for an examination. I took her, wrapped in a blanket. The vet examined her, dewormed her and told me how to feed her. She was about two weeks old. I had to take her back when she was eight weeks to be immunized.

           It was a task raising the kitten. I bought a pet nursing kit with miniature nursing bottles and nipples. I also bought some milk, which I diluted and warmed. I stimulated her genitals with a warm, damp piece of cotton wool, so that she could defecate and urinate before I fed her, as the vet advised. Non scented wet wipes became my best friends as I cleaned up after her. I also massaged her belly in preparation for feeding. I was thrilled to see her sucking away, her paws pawing away at the bottle and my finger. After feeding, I burped her like I would a baby and went through the toileting process again. I wiped her milky mouth with a warm tissue and held her for a while as she clambered around on my lap. Then I put her in the cradle that I had prepared for her. It was a small storage bin, lined with newspaper and covered with a fluffy towel. I borrowed a soft toy from my young nephew, Matthew. It was a dolphin. Strange replacement for a mother. I made an opening in the dolphin, inserted a filled hot water bottle and secured the opening with Velcro. It would be easy then to refill the bottle. Thus, Mr Dolphin, as my nephew named it, became a source of warmth for the kitten. 

           I placed the cradle in my bedroom, next to my bed because I had to feed her every three hours. Yes, she was my baby. I looked at her one day and said, “You know, you are a miracle. I’ll call you Miracle. Do you like that name?” She gave her approval by going, “Mew, mew, mew.” 

*

           Miracle’s mother died during the weekend. I had to return to my job as a teacher on Monday. Miracle needed round the clock feeding. What was I to do? I tried to get sitters for her but no one was willing to do it. Well, I decided that Mary’s little lamb went to school with her so to school Miracle would go with me. I fed her, made sure that she was comfortable, put her cradle in a large carrier cage and off to school we went. The children and staff were all excited and curious. Questions were fired at me rapidly like shots from a gun.

           “What is that you have in that cage, Mam?”

           “Let me see it!”

           “Is it a boy or a girl?

           “Where did you get it?”

           “Why did you bring it to school?”

I explained the reason why I had to bring it to school. Some children said, “Mam, that is good, you are so nice.”

           Teachers laughingly said, “Only you would do something like this.”

           “I can expect anything from her. Remember how she dressed for sports last year?

           “Who can forget that? Red dress, red shoes, red wig, red hat and red bag!”

           “She is a character but you know people still asked her what house she was in?!!!”

           “You have a heart of gold,” my best friend told me as she hugged me.

Some children wanted to hold Miracle but like a fiercely protective mother I told them that she was too young to be handled. I put her under my desk in the staff room. She would be safe there. 

           I fed Miracle at lunch time. Her milk was in a flask. I was glad at the end of the day to take her home. This to school and back process lasted for three weeks. Then the school closed for summer vacation. Nine weeks. I was thankful because I was very tired having to get up during the night to feed her, then going to school to deal with the students. I felt like a rubber band that was stretched to the limit.   

           Miracle grew fast. Her eyes opened after ten days, blue-grey but eventually they changed.  One was blue and the other was orange. Quite a spectacle. Her ears also changed. Instead of being flat they raised and became pointed. As her legs became stronger, she began to explore the bedroom, sniffing around and jumping at any unusual object. One night I turned, felt this warm sensation on my arm. Yes, it was Miracle. I wondered how she got up there. In the morning I put her down and watched her. She sank her tiny claws into the sheet and hauled herself up. The days of sleeping in her cradle with Mr Dolphin were over. She had found me.

           Then came the time that was synonymous with the ‘terrible twos’ in humans. Miracle climbed the curtains and had a jolly time swinging on them. She ran races through the house. It sounded like a small, galloping horse. Then, sometimes she hid under the chairs and pounced on my feet as I walked. Once, I was going into the kitchen, as I moved, something tugged my dress, holding me back. Of course, it was Miracle. She often climbed all over me. On my head and all. She was quite content to sit up there for a while as I did my chores. Miracle loved to lie in my shoes. Sometimes she fell asleep in them. My camera is full of pictures of her. Sometimes she kneaded me and sucked on her front paws like a child sucking its thumb. That was her signal that she was hungry. I gradually weaned her from the bottle, introducing soft food. She made a mess. She stepped in the bowl, then left a trail of cat food in the house. She smeared the food on her ears and on her head. Sometimes wet wipes were not adequate to clean her. Then she got a warm bath. She was a bit resistant at first until I put a rubber toy in with her. She tried to catch the running water. I towel dried her and finished with a cool blow dry. Sometimes I felt that she purposely made a mess with her food that she could get a bath. She loved to bathe. Unusual for a cat.

I had to potty train Miracle. I took her to the litter pan when I noticed that she had her toilet needs. I put a bit of her soiled cotton balls in the pan. Showed her how to scratch and cover the mess afterwards. She was a fast learner. She sniffed and scratched, sniffed and covered until she was properly satisfied. She met her growth mile stones and was immunized. I winced. She did not flinch. It seems that I felt the pain for her.

Then came the time when she was mature enough to eat solid food. Friskies was her favourite. If any other brand was placed before her, she backed the pan and mewed. She also loved fish. If I opened a can of tuna or sardines, she appeared and started an unholy racket until she got what she wanted. She knew what she wanted. 

In her explorations, Miracle discovered outside. She wanted to be outside. I had a kitty door installed so that she was free to go and come. She jumped high in the air (exhibiting gymnastic feats that Simone Biles would have a hard time to accomplish), to catch yellow butterflies. Miracle raced after leaves and climbed the fruit trees. She even caught birds and brought them inside, leaving the feathers for me to clean. Miracle loved the outdoors. She enjoyed basking in the sun or lying in the tall grass. But she never slept outside. She always came in to take her place beside me, often stealing my warm spot when I went to the bathroom. Until one night I called her and she did not come.

I shouted, “Miracle! Come to Mummy! Come!” All night long I called for her. I searched outside. No Miracle was to be found. I could not sleep. I walked up and down, flicking on lights, looking in all of her hiding places. I even opened cupboards, the fridge, the washing machine, closets and the oven to see if she was trapped, but she was in none of those places. My heart felt as though lead was tied to it. My eyes sprang enough water to flood the earth again. I hugged Mr Dolphin and prayed that Miracle would be safe.  

As soon as the paint brush of dawn streaked the sky with its bronze, orange and yellow hues I was outdoors in my nightgown. The dew sparkling on the grass blended with my tears. I called for Miracle. No Miracle. It was only when I went next door at my sister’s house that I saw Miracle. She lay stiff, and wet with dew. I scooped her up and started bawling. My sister flung open her window.

“What’s the matter?”

I couldn’t get the words out. I just lifted Miracle’s body to her.

She ran out to me. “Oh dear, oh dear. I’m so sorry. I was cleaning fish and I put poison on one to kill the rats.”

At that moment I wished that she had become a rat. I turned away, head down, shoulders shaking, holding my baby. I took her inside and dried her. I wrapped her in her favourite towel and put her in the cradle, along with her favourite toy, her kitty glow ball. I dug her grave under her favourite fruit tree; a plum tree. I placed her cradle in the arms of mother earth, put her pillow over it and covered the hole. I plucked flowers, red and white; red to symbolize her vibrant zest for life and white for her innocence. Then I bordered her grave with stones. I made a mental note to have a cross made. Then I sat on a stone and wailed. My sister tried to comfort me. She apologized repeatedly. She cursed her negligence. She offered to get me another cat but I only wanted my baby, Miracle.

1,957 words


February 29, 2020 01:07

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2 comments

Victor Lana
22:43 Mar 05, 2020

This story broke my heart. I am a dog person, but I love all animals, and I was really pulling for Miracle. I could feel it coming, yet I thought Soft was the casualty, so Miracle was safe. As soon as I read about the cat going outside, I was worried. The relationship between the narrator and the cats is lovely. There is true love between pets and their owners, but the saddest and hardest thing in the world is to lose them. You captured that well here in this story. Good luck with it.

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Anna Clarke
22:54 Mar 06, 2020

Thanks, Victor. This was a true story. Miracle was twelve years old when she died.

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