Rated PG; Mentions of death, animal corpses
Prompt: Write a story in which a miracle happens — or everyone thinks it did.
Author's Note: This is for my friend. Congratulations.
No one knew where she came from. That was kind of the point, though, wasn’t it? At first, when she had first been spotted in between the shelves, the employees tried to get her out. They chased her with brooms and put food right outside the exit. But she never left, no matter how hard they tried. Besides, the customers seemed to like her. She didn’t bite or scratch. She also allowed children to pet her. So, she stayed.
She was given a food and water bowl, as well as a bed under the front counter. Sometimes she slept there--but just as often she could be found dozing on top of the shelves. She particularly enjoyed the nonfiction section. Not just to sleep; she would also watch customers as they leafed through the biographies and history books as she swatted her brown tail back and forth. She would also walk between the aisles and rub herself up against the lowest books. This meant that her scent of pine trees and concrete mixed with the smell of the paper, giving the shop a very distinct scent that was burned into all the regular customers’ memory by the end of her time there.
There were, of course, downsides to keeping her around. For one, no one with an allergy to her could enter, for she treated the shop like a playground all of her own. She didn’t just jump between the shelves. She walked across the counter. She ran up and down the stair railings with impeccable balance. She scratched herself using the store’s rough carpeting.
To speak frankly, it was a serious health hazard. But no one bothered to report it, and the manager put a sign on the front door warning people about her, so again she stayed. Any customers lost by her were certainly gained back; she drew people in, in hopes of catching a glimpse of her.
Another issue was that, if a book was left open on the ground, she would ravage it. She signed her dreadful work with claw scratches and teeth marks. Paper would be littered in a circle around what was left of the poor thing. An easy enough fix was more warning signs throughout the store, though. This wasn’t enough to kick her out.
There was also the time she saved a life. A small child had wandered away from his parents. He made it to the balcony overlooking the bottom floor of the store. The spaces in between the ballisters were just big enough that a child small and thin enough could slip through them. The child was just about to do just this. His parents had noticed him being gone, and were running to get to him. They were too far away. But she wasn’t. She jumped in front of the ballister gap just in time, hissing at the child. He fell back and started crying.
After that incident, no one could protest her staying any longer. Not even those with allergies. She was the hero of the week. The store was in a small town, so she made it to the newspaper. That would be the first of two times. Many said it was a miracle--that she was sent by whatever higher power may exist simply to save his life. That is false, but why ruin their joy?
There was a month when she didn’t go to the store at all. Everyone assumed that she had wandered off into the woods next to the town, and would never return. But she did return. She had a suspicious limp that made her climbing escapades difficult for a bit, but she was still there.
After a few years, she began to get slow. She slept much more and ate whatever she found near her. She was also a lot less friendly. Her contented purrs when she was pet were replaced more often with impatient hisses. She hid from customers and only tolerated employees. She started leaving the mice she killed around the shop. She would have been kicked out of the store if everyone didn’t have a soft spot for her.
She never stopped being cute, though. She became old and grumpy--most people do, can you really blame her?--but her youthful eyes and chubby cheeks never disappeared. There was never a point where you could see her ribs. She would always loved being scratched on the stomach, and wouldn’t nip you if you did it correctly.
But there was a time that she killed someone. It wasn’t on purpose. At least that’s what all the humans logically figured. She was napping near the top of the stairs when a kid tripped over her. It was just bad luck that her neck snapped as she tumbled. After that, no one looked for her to pet her. In fact, they avoided her.
That was the second time she made the newspaper. It was very inappropriate, as the article came out mere days after the death, but news is news, and it must be reported.
Death is something all life must eventually face. However, no one ever saw her die. One day, she left the store in the middle of the day. It surprised no one. She often left the shop if she had a need for stretching or hunting. However, she never returned after she walked out the front door.
No one saw her beginning and no one saw her end. All they saw was her life, which was barely miraculous in comparison. The last people who saw her claim that she was off running the moment she left the shop. It was peculiar due to the fact that her age had prevented her from walking past a slow, even pace for years. She looked as though she had somewhere to be. A few people claimed she looked happy as she sped past the city border off into the forest. She even mewed contentedly. Of course, there’s no proof, so feel free to discount it.
Going by that logic, no one has had proof of her birth or her death, so the likeliness of her having encountered either is low.