TEXT & PHOTOS BY DAVID ALLEN
Ten years ago, my wife had decided to surprise me with a gift. I found it waiting for me when I got home from work one day in early Spring. As I recall, she casually announced, "walk carefully," as I opened the door and stepped in. Immediately, I looked down at the ground, but saw nothing. "Why?" I asked. It was a long day, and I was exhausted. But I could tell by the look on her face that there was something special about her statement that I was not yet aware of. With a gesture of her head, she motioned to the bookshelf that stood only feet from where I was now standing. I looked at her, perplexed. I could see nothing new on the shelf, nor any reason why I should "walk carefully." "Underneath," she specified.
As tired and sore as I was after a hard day, I got down on all fours and slowly lowered my head to look beneath. There was no more than a two or three inch gap between the floor and the bottom of the shelf. But there, in the shadows, staring back at me curiously, were two glowing eyes. They blinked once, as if to say, "hello."
I could barely make out the small form that was crouched so low beneath the shelf. But my eyes began to adjust to the gloom, and I could now tell that it was a tiny kitten looking back at me. My heart leapt! I turned to look at my wife, who was waiting patiently for my reaction. I was utterly speechless. But she must've known from the smile I wore, which stretched from ear to ear, just how happy I was to find this new arrival. Knowing that I was an animal lover, and that I'd also previously owned two cats, she knew that I would be elated to discover our newest family member. And of course, she couldn't have been more right.
At first, I laid down flat on the floor and tried to coax the kitten out of her hiding place. I was anxious to see her, but she was too afraid to budge. Finally, I stood up and sat down next to my wife on the couch. I kissed her and thanked her for the gift. "What do you think of her?" she asked. "I still haven't seen her properly, I said. "But I'm very happy."
I had many questions of my own now, which my wife proceeded to answer. The kitten was only one month old. It was a girl. She was born of a large litter that belonged to my wife's coworker's cat. And my wife had brought her home on the train, all wrapped up and warm in a blanket.
The two of us sat and watched television quietly while we waited for the kitten to come out. And finally, from the corner of my eye, I saw the most adorable black and white ball of fluff. I looked down, and she froze in her tracks and looked back at me with wide, bright, yellowish green eyes. I smiled at her and slowly extended my hand, careful not to get too close too quick. She approached the rest of the way and lifted her head to sniff at my outstretched hand. It was then that I noticed a small black mark that stretched across her nose. It was a patch of black fur that was shaped almost like a NASCAR racetrack. It offered her face the most adorable expression. She had such character and class, and I fell in love with her instantly.
It was still a few days before my wife and I had come up with a name for our little girl. During that time, the kitten and I got to know one another. But she also became well acquainted with her new environment; particularly my shoes, which I discovered she could forcibly insert herself into, tail and all. Eventually, my wife decided that the name Pumpkin seemed like a good fit for her. She and I both loved Halloween, for one. But as terms of endearment go, this little kitten was as cute as a pumpkin. So, it was settled. Pumpkin, with her little patch, had arrived in a good home, with caring, loving parents who would raise her like their own daughter.
About the author: David Allen was born in Red Bank, New Jersey in 1977. Having always been a fan of the arts, David has tried his hand at almost every artistic medium, including: painting/drawing, poetry, photography, sculpting, editing, and even costume designing, in addition to his writing career. He wrote and published his first book in 2008, titled "Past, Present, and Further More." Four years later, he published the sequel "Belvedere." Today, he is currently writing a three volume trilogy of short stories, which will be titled "Gateways."