I struggle up from beneath thick layers of sleep.
I hear a series of thumps and a murmur of voices.
What? Is that coming from outside? Is someone here? What’s going on?
Blearily, I look at the clock. 12:37 am. Living at the top of a hill, we don’t have stray visitors and most assuredly not at this time of night. Who could it be?
“Someone’s here, Kurt,” I say, turning toward him as he sits upright, clearly also wakened by the noise.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
“I think someone’s at the front door,” he says, groggily.
No one uses the front door in Maine…Has there been some sort of accident?
Kurt (aka “The Brave and Impetuous One”) throws back the covers and gets out of bed, heading downstairs. I (aka “The
Cowardly Prudent One”) move over to the window and peer out into the dark, trying to see what might be going on. Is that a car in the driveway just past the corner of the house? Are those lights or moonlight? I strain to listen, but hear nothing.
Long minutes pass.
Who’s out there?
Where did Kurt go?
What is going on?
Suddenly, a hushed voice murmurs, “I think I see movement.” Then I hear the rustle of people moving, and see the sweep of a flashlight’s beam over the yard.
I call down through the open window, “My husband’s on his way out.”
“Oh! Hello?” a woman says. “I’m sorry it’s so late, but I think I have your cat.”
“What!?!” I exclaim.
“I found it on my porch when I came home tonight. I recognized her picture from your “Missing” post on the town Facebook page. She’s grey with a tan dot on her head, right?”
“Oh, my gosh! Yes! Is she okay?”
“She seems fine. We…”
“I’ll be right down!” I cry, cutting off her response.
I race down the stairs and into the family room as Kurt is pulling the door closed, coming back into the house.
“What are you doing?” I say, trying to get outside. “Someone found Squirrel!”
“What? No way!” he says, “I called out, and no one answered!”
“They’re right at the side of the house,” I say, pushing him out the door.
We rush through the garden and around the corner of the house. There, in the lights of a car we can see the shadowy silhouettes of a woman and a young man.
“I’m so sorry it’s late,” the woman repeats. “My son and I found her on our porch.” She continues, “I would have kept her for the night, but I’m so allergic to cats. I messaged you, but it’s late and you didn’t answer, so I googled your name and your house came up on google maps, so we thought we’d give it a try. She’s just in the back of the car.”
While she speaks, her son opens up the car and lifts out a laundry basket covered with a towel. He sets it gently on the ground. As he pulls back the towel, a dark shape bounds out. Kurt grabs, catches her and lifts her up into into his arms.
“Squirrel!” we both cry.
She scrambles up onto Kurt’s chest and immediately begins licking his hands.
We bubble over with effusive thanks, interspersed with intermittent admonishments and endearments to Squirrel (“We’re so happy to see you! Where have you been, you stupid cat!? We’ve been so worried! We thought you were dead!”).
After another minute, they leave, and we head back inside to croon at and feed our very affectionate, and much thinner, cat. Finally, we stumble back up to bed. Not long afterward, Squirrel joins us and the three of us snuggle together through the rest of the night.
After 9 days missing, she’s home at last.