I once shared one of my childhood stories with my co-workers a few years ago.
They laughed. And cringed. And all leaned back a fair bit. Then one of them turned to me and said “You know, you should really compile some of these stories. They’d make for a fantastic Southern Gothic…”
Clumsy. Unpracticed. Unedited. For Rex.
It was under the wet blanket of a summer evening that we began to hear the moans and cries from under the porch. The sound instantly recognizable as another stray giving birth. It happened often at the old house. I have memories of Mama, more than once, up in arms because someone left the back door open and another homeless cat carried her newly birthed kittens one at a time back to Mama’s closet.
I suppose she delivered them to the pound. But we never kept them. Except this time, they stayed longer than expected. Perhaps it was because their mother hadn’t tried to move them into the house yet. Mama didn’t mind them living in the yard, it was only their intrusion on our living space that relegated them to animal control. Whatever the reason, only having been born a few days before the kittens, eyes closed and mewing, huddled beneath the shade of our back porch waiting for their mother to return.
My friend Katie and I diligently worked ’round my play kitchen, splashing in suds when Mama burst out of the house, thin arms akimbo, face dark.
“What have you done to those kittens?!” She screeched.
I answered honestly, my innocence my saving grace. “They were dirty. We were given’ them a bath.”
Katie, my silent accomplice stood awkwardly by saying nothing. Traitor.
I vaguely remember Katie being sent “straight home.” I’m sure I was sent to my own room. And I suppose Mama had those kittens buried back by the shed where a small collection of wildlife and pets had been laid to rest in peace…