It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Kittens

Submitted into Contest #173 in response to: Write a story that includes the phrase “Thank you! It’s just what I wanted.”... view prompt


Christmas Coming of Age

Even when Ellie was little, I had a feeling she was destined to do great good in life. She was smart as a whip, responsible and her heart was always in the right place. I couldn't ask for a better daughter.

It had been five years since my wife had died, leaving a great hole in our life. Although both of us still missed her greatly, we were past the devastation and moving forward.

Christmas had become fun again, and it was just days away. I still hadn't shopped for her present. Work had kept me terribly busy, and I wasn't sure about what to get her. What does a ten year old girl want to see under the tree anyway?

No need for clothes. She had plenty and had never asked for anything special, or specific. Ellie loved to read but thought buying books was a waste considering you could always get them from the library.

Too old for toys and stuffed animals. When she was seven, she had asked if we could donate them to less fortunate children. I had been racking my brain over the perfect gift idea.

My coworkers suggested a gaming system. They said it would be a lot of fun and would help us bond. I really had my doubts but was running out of time. Off to the mall I went.

The staff at Electronix assured me that I was making a great choice. Purchase paid for, I headed to the sea of cars, found mine and drove home. Ellie was fast asleep when I arrived. I showed the sitter what I had got and after she left, I put it under my bed.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve. We snacked on cookies and cocoa while watching movies. I turned towards her to say something; she was fast asleep.

Still not too heavy for me, I picked her up and carried her to her room. Setting her down, I tousled her hair and tucked her in. She opened her eyes and said, " I love you Daddy."

Stopping outside her door, I listened to her saying her prayers, "God, I don't want anything big for Christmas; I hope Daddy didn't buy anything expensive."

Oh boy, looks like I blew it. I'm sure there's still time to figure something out. Maybe Ellie can tell me what she wants.

Our neighbor agreed to wait at our house while I went back to the mall. I returned the present for a refund and headed back to my car. Flurries were coming down and the air had quite a nip.

If I hadn't paused to live in the moment, I may have never heard the little cry. It was hard to tell where it was coming from. Getting on my hands and knees, I looked under my car. There he was, a little black kitten, shaking from the cold and fright.

I coaxed him out, placed him on the passenger seat and reassured him that everything was going to be fine. He was asleep by the time we got home.

A few hours had been spent making the stray kitten feel at home. A box cut down and some shredded newspaper served as a temporary litter box. Christmas morning arrived with me waking up on the couch.

I looked around the living room and saw him under the tree batting at one of the low hanging ornaments. Grinning, I wondered what I was going to do with him.

Before I had much time to consider it, Ellies door opened, and she came out.

"Merry Christmas Daddy!!"

"Merry Christmas darlin' ", I replied.

Her attention was drawn to the tree and a smile lit up her face. She squealed, "Thank you! It's just what I wanted. "

She walked over and picked him up. It was love at first sight for both. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had planned on making some phone calls after the weekend. It looked like my plans might be changing.

Ellie picked him up and placed him on the couch between us. Content, he curled up into a purring ball and went to sleep.

She had lots of questions, and I didn't have many answers. I told her we would need to get him to a vet for a wellness check as soon as possible.

I explained to her about how I had rescued him, and he wasn't really a true gift.

She said, "That's fine, I think he's great!! How do you like Inky for a name?"

"I love it sweety."

I was certain I would be handling the bulk of "kitty care". Ellie was already doing a lot to help me out around the house. It was a small price to pay to see her so happy. I was in for a surprise.

She fed him, played with him and even made sure his litter box stayed fresh and clean. When she wasn't at school, they were inseparable. Mary had her little lamb; Ellie had her little cat.

Every night when I tucked her in, he jumped onto her bed and curled up next to her.

When he was about four, he became rather ill. No matter how Ellie tried, she couldn't get him to eat. Saturday afternoon, we took him to an emergency veterinarian.

After an anxious wait, the vet came back with his prognosis. Ellie began asking lots of questions but when the vet responded, he was looking at me.

Looking him dead in the eye I said, "My daughter's asking the questions, direct your answers to her."

After he was finished detailing Inkys treatment plan, he took me to the side and said, "My apologies, your daughter is a bright young lady and I have no doubt she'll take great care of Inky. Have her call me if he worsens, or if she has any questions."

Inky got well, time passed and soon Ellie was a senior in high school. She had a few friends, one of her best was a boy her age. He asked her to the prom.

She graduated at the top of her class, and between her GPA and SAT scores, was offered scholarships to several schools. She decided on Michigan State University. I wondered why, it was a few states away and Charlie was going to a different university. When I asked her, she replied, "They have one of the best Veterinary Science degree programs in the country. "

God, I love that girl. She's got drive, dreams, and goals.

Thirteen more years go by fast, like water under a bridge. Ellie and Charlie are engaged and living in Charlotte, Michigan. He's a fine young man and I know they'll be happy together.

Once again, Christmas is days away. I look outside and watch the snow coming down and think about that day twenty years ago. My cell phone rings, it's Ellie.

I answer the call, fearing the worst. From bleak beginnings, Inky is now twenty. I'm afraid my girl has called to tell me he's gone over the rainbow bridge.

Instead, I listen as she tells me she's preparing to open her own veterinary practice!! I'm thrilled for her as she describes everything she has planned. In addition to her clientele, she will put aside time for pro bono patients.

When we're finished talking, and have said goodnight, I feel as if Ellie has just given me a Christmas present. I marvel at her and the aging black cat that was a kitten on a cold winter night, years ago. I can't help but wonder how life would have changed if I hadn't been living in the moment.

November 23, 2022 14:40

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Wally Schmidt
02:06 Jan 04, 2023

So nice to read an upbeat story. Nice job!


Sean McGillis
20:54 Jan 04, 2023

Thanks Wally, appreciate the kind words!


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19:20 Nov 30, 2022

I too received a black and gray kitten that was rescued from a gas station. Fluffy moved with me when I married and lived 22 years. Thank you for bringing him back to my mind with your nice story.


Sean McGillis
22:15 Nov 30, 2022

Awe, that's sweet! My wife and I have five cats. I'm glad my story reminded you of Fluffy. :)


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Starry Skies
16:17 Nov 30, 2022

This is such a cute story! I think the mood you write in is perfect, and I love the style you write in.


Sean McGillis
17:45 Nov 30, 2022

Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed this story.


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R W Mack
17:34 Nov 27, 2022

Lines like "work had kept me" and "Christmas had become" use one of the words I dread: had. It's a word I always target for culling when I edit because, most times I see it, it's unnecessary and makes my pacing sound clumsy. That aside, it's probably one of the only stories I'm shortlisting this week. It's a VERY short list this week, so it's refreshing to get a sweet lil story this holiday weekend.


Sean McGillis
22:46 Nov 27, 2022

Thanks RW, I really appreciate the constructive criticism/ advice. I'm almost 57 and this is my first time submitting a short story in a contest such as this.


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