The navy spring coat felt heavy on her shoulders and her sneakers dragged across the concrete. The warm yellow sun mocked her as it beat down on the back of her neck. She looked down at her little brother and wondered if he even understood what was happening. 

“Hey,” her little brother spoke up, shaking her from her thoughts. “How long would it take to walk all across the world?”

“I don’t know, Tyler.” There were a lot of things she didn’t know.

Lea didn’t say anything the rest of the way home and just stared down at her laces slowly coming undone. When they finally reached the cobblestone path that led up to the brown door she felt a sense of dread wash over her. She twisted the handle and walked into the chilled house yet to be a home. 

“You guys are back early.” Said their dad, who noticed them walk in, from the kitchen.

“Yeah,” Replied Lea. “I guess I felt homesick.”

Her dad put down the bowl he was washing and sighed. “I’m really sorry, honey. I know the move hasn’t been easy for you but your mother needed this job here.” His eyes were sympathetic and his shoulders were slouched.

“I know but all of my friends are back at home and how can I make new friends when every nine year old in the whole entire world already has friends and doesn’t want anymore!” Lea threw her hands down at her sides, stomped through the hallway, and pushed open her bedroom door. Without closing it she made her way around the cardboard boxes holding all of her things and slid down the corner of the bright white painted wall. She hugged her knees as her mind flooded with the memories of the life she was forced to leave behind.

“Lea?” Tyler poked his head into her room. “Are you okay?” His voice was soft.

“No, I’m not okay.” She lifted her head from her knees revealing her soggy pink cheeks. “I have no friends and I don’t even have my home either.”

“But you have this home?” 

“Tyler, I want our old home not this place.”

Not knowing what to say Tyler left Lea alone in the shadowed corner of her empty bedroom. As she watched him walk away she wondered how he could be so okay with this major change. Their parents didn't even ask them if they wanted to move. The decision was already made when they told them.

About a half hour later Lea noticed the room dimming and checked the alarm clock placed on the bedside table that the previous owners left behind. It was only seven thirty but she already felt tired from her lack of positivity throughout the day. Without a care in the world she climbed into the wooden bed with nothing covering it but a quilt her nana made for her parents and a lilac pillow from the living room. She pulled the quilt over her legs and rested it on her side as her head sunk into the limp pillow. 

The next morning Lea found herself fully awake and starved in the kitchen by eight thirty. She stood on her tiptoes and reached up for the fruit bowl. Bringing her hand back down she held an apple in her grasp then proceeded to the hallway. Walking through the house felt different and not a good different. Looking at the bare walls free of any of their family pictures or paintings her and her brother made twisted her stomach. There was nothing on the shelves but dust. She couldn’t help but think that she didn’t belong here. She needed to be somewhere else. Lea stopped herself in front of her bedroom door and turned around. She marched to the entrance, grabbed her coat, tied her shoes, and shut the ugly brown door behind her.

The first few steps outside made her feel courageous and brave but after a few minutes of walking past houses it felt boring. Where was she going to go? She just moved here so she’d have to turn back in a few blocks or she’d get lost. Lea took one last bite of her apple, threw it onto the ground in frustration, and sat on the edge of the sidewalk. She rested her small hands on her face and glared at the houses across the street when something caught her eye. Turning her head to the side she saw a furry black cat gnawing at the last bits of her apple. Where did you come from? The cat continued to eat her apple ignoring Lea completely. 

“Hey,” Spoke Lea. The cat didn’t even look up. “What are you doing here?”

Suddenly the cat lifted its head from her apple and trotted over to Lea rubbing itself against her coat. She was surprised to see a street animal so affectionate. Feeling the stray cat's warmth against her made her a little less angry and surprisingly happy. Lea smiled and laughed softly as she stroked her fingers through its dusty fur. As she ran her fingers over the back of it's neck she couldn't feel a collar. This cat must not have a home. I guess that's something we have in common. A moment later the cat began to walk away with no intention of coming back. Lea furrowed her brows and put her hand in her pocket as she watched the cat leave. 

"Where are you going?" She whispered.

Getting up off the concrete she noticed the cat heading towards a back alley and quickened her pace to catch up. When she finally caught up to the cat it was rolling around in the dirt by a paint chipped fence. Lea rolled her eyes and sighed.

            "Why am I even following you?" She said staring down at the filthy, furry creature. "Aren't you supposed to be bad luck?"

             Lea sat down on a wooden crate next to the cat as it purred on the ground and scratched its stomach not caring about how much dirt would be stuck underneath her nails. 

           "Are you a girl or a boy?" She sounded as if she expected the cat to answer back. "You seem like a girl." 

           After about five minutes of rolling in the dirt the cat sat up and stared at Lea. Her eyes were yellow and large like a plush toy. Lea stared back with a gentle look.

           "You're a pretty cute cat aren't you but you need a name." Lea looked off into the distance gluing her eyes to another old, wooden fence. Why doesn't anyone fix their backyards? Regaining focus she turned back to the cat still staring at her.

          "I think I'll call you Lucy. You look like a Lucy." Lea smiled and bent down to pet her head then stood up from the crate. "Come on Lucy we are going to explore this neighborhood." 

          As Lea left the back alley for the residential streets Lucy followed close behind rubbing up against her legs every now and then. They walked up and down rows of houses for almost an hour. Sometimes Lea would ask Lucy a question and imagined her replying back. The two of them were inseparable. Neither of them wanted to leave each other's side. This was the best Lea had felt since moving and the most free she's felt in her entire life. 

         "Hey, Lucy, I think I see a field over there." Lea jabbed her finger straight ahead just past the tall, blue house on their right. "Did you want to go sit for a while?" Lucy looked up at her and let out a squeaky meow. "I'll take that as a yes."

         The two of them crossed the street and headed towards the field with a small swing set and sand pit at the end. They shuffled through the crunchy grass and settled down in the shade of a birch tree. Lea put her hood up and laid down staring at the cloudless sky. A few feet over, Lucy flopped to the ground and curled up with her thin tail waving slowly. Both of them took a deep breath and, for the first time in weeks, let their worries fade away. 

“I don’t know why people say that black cats are bad luck.” Lea said, turning around to face the sleeping cat. “Meeting you today has made me feel luckier than I have felt in a really long time.” She outstretched her arm and pet her soft, dusty, fur. “We should get going. My parents are going to wonder where I am pretty soon.” 

After a calm rest at the park Lea and Lucy made their way back to where they both lived occasionally getting lost along the way. Neither of them really knew where to go but they knew they’d make it back eventually.

“Alright, Lucy” Lea announced when she saw the back alley. “I guess this is the part where you leave.” Her eyes became soft and her smile drooped. Lucy walked over to the alley, sat down, and stared back at Lea. “I know, I don’t want to go either.” Just then Lea’s face lit up at the thought of a great idea. “How about I come to see you tomorrow right here. I promise i’ll stay longer this time.” Lucy flopped onto the dirt and meowed emphatically. “Okay! I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” excited by the next day’s plans, Lea skipped the rest of the way to her house.

Seeing the houses she saw earlier when she first left looked different, felt different, and seemed more like homes. Walking down the block seemed less like a foriegn path and more like a neighbourhood. Stepping up to her new house, and opening the door felt like something she could get used to.

“Hey Lea,” said her mom sitting on the big leather couch with her feet up. “Where did you go? I thought you were still in your room.”

“I was just walking around with a friend.” Lea said busy unzipping her coat.

“Oh,” There was a hint of surprise in her tone. “Does this friend have a name?”


May 15, 2020 23:00

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