Happy Thursday, everyone!
It’s officially Christmas season. Yes, I know it’s still November (thank goodness; I’m not quite done with my NaNoWriMo novel yet), but we’ve already survived the day after Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, Cyber Monday (and about a bazillion other shopping gimics) and we still have twenty-six more shopping days to go. I’ve started playing Christmas music in the car and at my desk at work, and I have a collection of Christmas stories all set on my Kindle.
To kick the Free Fiction Thursday holiday season off with style, this week we have “Essy and the Christmas Kitten,” a story about a lonely, broken woman who receives a most unexpected Christmas gift. Enjoy!
Essy and the Christmas Kitten
Published by Thunder Valley Press
Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed
Image licensed by Depositphotos.com/Arina Verstova
The kitten looked like a cross between a drowned rat and one of those scary-looking bats with huge, radar ears.
Essy had been on her way out to scrape the latest accumulation of heavy, wet snow off her ten-year-old Toyota, a car that hadn’t tried — yet — to kill her by deciding all on its own to set a new land speed record, when she saw the kitten huddling beneath the prickly holly bush at the corner of her house. Its grey fur was sopping wet. Even without bending over to get a closer look, Essy could see it shivering as each new flake settled on its skinny body.
What in the world was a kitten doing out here all by itself? At the end of November?
Essy didn’t exactly live at the edge of civilization, but her house was the last on the block. Beyond her fence, the land rose up into the first of the rugged foothills that separated her subdivision from the newest cookie-cutter shopping center in the valley a mile away. People didn’t usually dump unwanted animals on her street. It was a dead end, which had suited Essy just fine when she bought her little house.
She supposed someone could have tossed the kitten out of a car and driven away. Or a coyote could have gotten its mother, even though a kitten seemed like easier pickings.
Essy had no pets. The days of pets and kids and a husband and work were long gone. But she couldn’t leave a kitten out in the snow to freeze to death.
She crouched down in front of the bush, her knees protesting. The kitten backed a couple of steps away, crying at her, all wide blue eyes and pointy baby teeth. It couldn’t have been more than eight weeks old, if that.
Essy’s daughter had brought a baby kitten home one day from school. Six weeks old, and little more than a fuzzy black fur ball on spindly legs. “Mommy, can I keep her?” Essy and her husband had never been able to say no, not when their daughter had her heart set on something, so the kitten had joined their family. It was gone now, too.
“Come here, sweetheart,” Essy said to the sopping wet kitten. “Where’s your momma, baby?” She took off one leather glove and held her fingers out, hoping to entice it, but it backed away one more step, still crying.
(read the rest of the story here)