The House That Loved

by mherod7




Kitten strolled through the fragrant
garden of the three-story, faded-blue house on Broadway Avenue, as she did
every day. It was early in the morning, and late in the spring, and Kitten
loved the early-morning, velvety-soft grass, so cool and wet. Kitten loved to
lick the moist, sweet-smelling dew from her paw pads and between her toes. The
house and garden had been neglected for a long time, and the grass was tall and
the flowers grew wild in the ancient backyard garden. Kitten was young, and
each new place she explored was fascinating, but Kitten had come to especially
love this grassy, sweet-smelling, wildflower world into which she so softly but
firmly stepped each day. She had a favorite flower, a pink one, that she always
stopped to sniff and admire, as she journeyed across the landscape of the
abandoned old house. It was a tall house, Kitten thought, and she surmised that
it must be a mile high, at least! 



Kitten was a beautiful little girl with a
fluffy, thick, bright orange coat, highlighted with subtle stripes of dark
orange extending from the top of her head, down her back, and along her tail.
Her two front paws were white, and she had a white stripe extending from her
forehead down the full length of her nose, and on her fuzzy chest, was a scruffy
patch of white. She had abundant energy, strong muscles, razor-sharp instincts,
and a forceful, determined gait, yet she also possessed a grace and elegance
and gentleness that was distinctly feminine. Kitten didn’t have a name, like
she knew other cats did, but she longed for one, a real name all her own! And
she longed for that special someone who would call her by her pretty name, and
welcome her into a real home filled with love.



Kitten’s mama had died when she and her
three siblings were babies. Then, a few days after that, one of her sisters
died. The three remaining kittens were left to fend for themselves, and it was
hard and sometimes scary, but they knew it was necessary. Kitten and her little
sister and brother had learned early that the world is not always a nice place.
Sometimes, when they would stroll and hunt and prowl together, mean people
would throw things at them, or yell angry words that the young felines could
not understand, but knew were unkind. Once, while the tiny trio was parading up
a battered sidewalk, Kitten’s sister was kicked by an angry boot, and knocked
into the middle of the street! To rescue her, Kitten and her brother had to
race desperately between a barrage of fast-moving cars. While her brother
steered them back to the safety of the sidewalk, Kitten carried her baby sister
by the scruff of the neck, just as Mama had carried them during the brief time
they had all been together. It seemed that they were especially vulnerable to
mistreatment when they were searching for food--perusing a neighborhood trash
bin, pawing through a dumpster, or daring to take a few bites from a bowl full
of good-smelling food meant for another cat. . .not for them.



After a brief period, for their own safety,
and to more adequately feed themselves, the three young felines decided to
separate and to go their individual ways throughout the neighborhood. But,
before they did, they hugged each other tight, shed a few tears, and promised
each other they would one day reunite. Kitten’s brother said that someday,
maybe they could all live in the same house with a family who loved them and
took care of them. He said that Mama would have wanted them to stay together,
and Kitten and her sister knew he was right. And so, for now, they sadly
parted.



Kitten missed her siblings every day, but
she was determined to survive, and survive she did, quite well in fact! She was
proud of that, and thought that her mama would be proud of her, too. After
being on her own for only a few days, Kitten walked down a new street one
morning and discovered this wonderful old house and garden! Feeling safe and
comfortable, Kitten began to linger at this house for hours, often curling up
for long naps on the front porch on a worn, but warm little rug that was just
the right size. Kitten could tell this was no ordinary house. In fact, Kitten
believed that this was a very special house, indeed!



She was born in 1889, rather. . . .built, I
should say, Dear Reader, for she is House! Once upon a time, her beauty was
unparalleled in this part of the city, and large groups of people often
gathered on her front walk to admire her tall round turrets, her red brick
pillars, and her magnificent garden. However, to House’s great sorrow, this was
no longer true. The decades had passed, the people had moved away or died, time
had tumbled forward, and House was left behind. Her massive front door that
once opened wide to welcome Victorian ladies and gentlemen into her entry
parlor to warm themselves on cold, winter days, now meekly stood with fading
paint, rusty, corroded hinges, and missing its once prominent, lion-head
doorknocker. The dining room, once the setting for elegant parties and
Christmas dinners beside a roaring fire in the mahogany fireplace, its long
table positioned in front of a wide, tapestry-draped floor-to-ceiling window,
now was devoid of furnishings, and showed no sign that sumptuous food was once
served here to an appreciative family and guests. And House fondly remembered
the alluring aromas that once emanated from her kitchen and dining room and
permeated the entire home.



Windows that were once thrown open in the
early morning to welcome the fresh, cool breezes of long-ago springs, were now
boarded up on the outside with yellow lumber and giant red nails. Inside, the
windows were cracked, almost impossible to open, and clanged and rattled
frightfully during the pounding winds of thunderstorms. The massive living room
fireplace, where children’s Christmas stockings once hung, and where green ivy
draped gracefully across its mantelpiece, now lay bare and cold. Upstairs, the
bedrooms of the legions of children House had watched grow from babies in
elaborate rocking cribs into adults bringing back their own children for a
visit, now were empty and silent.



Her dear staircase, her own personal pride
and joy, was still magnificent despite years of dust and decay, but not a soul
had ascended or descended its sturdy steps in years. How she had loved seeing
families race down her stairs to greet returning soldiers from the Wars, and children
and pets fly down on Christmas mornings to open the many packages spread under
a shimmering Christmas tree. But her cherished steps held dark memories, as
well. House remembered with a special grief when Mary Louise Kempfer, a
beautiful and kind young woman of only 16 years, had become sick and died of a
terrible flu in the sultry summer of 1917. House remembered with horror how she
had helplessly watched as Mary Louise’s illness descended upon her and stole
her away, and how Mary’s grief-stricken father had so lovingly carried her down
these steps to place Mary in her casket for burial. How House had grieved for
her and shuddered and cried along with Mary Louise’s huddled family for months
after the tragedy.



House’s chimneys, now blocked from years of
dirt, debris, and soot, cried out for warmth in howling rainstorms and freezing
winters. House shivered in the wintertime, trembled during thunderstorms, and
was uncomfortably hot in the summertime, the many windows not even slightly
opened to let in a little cool air. The two red brick pillars that held up her
wonderful upstairs sitting porch, where countless residents and their pets had
enjoyed gentle summer breezes in the evening while resting in high-backed
rocking chairs, and later in metal foldable chairs, were now starting to lean
slightly. The porch itself was even starting to sag frightfully, and was
attempting to take its cracked, wooden white railing down with it in an
inevitable total collapse. Some of the original red tiles on House’s roof had blown
off in violent storms, and rain sometimes drip-drip-dripped into House’s attic.
Sometimes in the midst of the dense quiet, House could hear the echoes from her
ancient walls of voices long since gone, voices of all those she had once loved
and held in her warm embrace. And sometimes, she even recognized shadowy images
from the past, spiritual remnants of those who, like herself, could never quite
let go.



A long time ago, House had even had a name.
A hand-carved wooden sign hanging on her porch for her first twenty years,
proclaimed “Oak Manor” for all to see, and House had felt so proud and so
loved. House was old, alone, and tired, very tired. But even though her
decaying boards sometimes ached and hurt and caused her to shudder from sudden
jolts of pain, House stood--with all the determination and dignity she could
muster, she still stood. And she wondered if her creaky old joints and bones
would ever move again, and if her walls would ever again know warmth or
coolness or laughter or love.



Recently, though, things were looking up
for House, and in the last few days, a lovely little kitten had been roaming
her overgrown garden, and the little kitten seemed to especially love the pink
lilies, because she would stop and sit and stare at them for a long time. House
looked forward to seeing Kitten each day. Seeing her everyday helped ease her
loneliness, and House sensed, quite accurately, that Kitten was also sad and
lonely. House loved watching Kitten curl up and sleep on the fraying, faded rug
that still lay in front of her thick oak door. And House loved Kitten and
watched over her, and hoped that she would stay.



House had always loved animals, and there
had always been animals with House, as far back as the beginning. When her
first resident, Mr. Charles Rogers, a prominent banker, carried his bride up
the oak-lined walkway and over the threshold of their newly-built home in June,
1889, his regal and attentive Irish Setter, Rusty, followed closely behind. In
the 1930s, Pepper was a cute little yellow puppy with huge ears and big feet
who grew into a stunning Golden Retriever who, in his old age, loved to warm
himself on cold days in front of the living room fire. And then, in the 1960s,
there was Midnight, House’s favorite pet ever, a fluffy, short-tailed,
coal-black kitty with a few fur strands that glowed red in the sunlight
streaming in through the copious windows. Midnight was a small cat with a big
personality, who was fully aware of House. Midnight would frequently sit in the
living room with his human family and face one of her many walls, and meow
boldly, telling her about his many outdoor adventures, while his humans stared
incredulously and asked him, “Midnight! What in the world do you see there???”
Rusty, Pepper, and Midnight were all buried in House’s backyard near the
garden, although no one remembered them now, except for House. Midnight’s grave
even contained a small marker bearing his name, although the grass had grown so
tall, that it was now completely hidden. Like Midnight, this new kitten had a
big personality, too, and House could tell that she was a very special kitten.
There were other pets buried on the property, too. And House loved and
remembered them all with fondness.



House longed for someone to transform her
into the well-loved, well-cared for home she had once been. And so,
House radiated with all her remaining strength, and sent forth a warm,
welcoming, loving beam to all and any who would take the time to stop, and
listen, and see. House believed her outward message of love had brought her
this little kitten, and she was so happy and grateful. But House also knew that
she needed a new resident to occupy her dark and empty shell. And then one day,
House saw a yellow car pull up and stop in front of her crumbling iron gate, and
she noticed a woman look out the car’s back window and stare at her intently,
for what seemed like a very long time.



 



Less than a mile away from House and
Kitten, in a small, one-bedroom apartment, lived Lydia Fischer. Lydia had been
alive for 60 years, and felt every year with weary intensity. In childhood,
healthy little legs had propelled her across her family’s backyard to leap onto
her swing set, to run and skip for hours, and to eagerly join her classmates
for recess on the school playground. As a teenager, Lydia fondly remembered
walking to school with her friends, carrying her schoolbooks. And as a young
adult too poor to afford a car, Lydia had walked everywhere she needed to go,
sometimes for miles, without ever giving it a second thought--she walked to
work, walked across town to visit friends, and eagerly charged up staircases.
She careened down sidewalks and across intersections to travel to the grocery
store, and walked back home effortlessly, despite being heavily laden with
multiple bags of groceries.



These simple activities were now just
memories. Her once-healthy knees and hips were now swollen, stiff, and painful.
Her long, graceful limbs, that had never failed her in her youth, could now
barely move. Now, a step up onto a curb was challenging. Trying to rise from
her couch was a major effort, and sometimes created a sudden jolt of pain so
fierce that she was forced to fall back down clumsily onto the cushions. And
when she finally stood, remaining standing was cumbersome and tiring. And
walking! She could no longer realistically call it that! It was a hobble, now,
at best. No matter what difficulties life had thrown at her in the past, Lydia
always had her energetic, healthy body to carry her through any situation.
Lydia, who had once believed she was invincible, now took satisfaction in
getting through the day and not falling, and not tripping, and not injuring
herself. She was largely successful, although her knees, shins, and hips
occasionally reflected a bruise or two to remind her that she was invincible no
more. But Lydia still had her pride, and so still she stood, still she hobbled,
with as much determination and dignity as she could muster.



Arthritis had found Lydia, just as it had
found her grandmother so many decades before, and it was not going to let her
go, no matter how hard she resisted. With the death of her beloved cat, Tika,
the year before, Arthritis was now her only companion. Sometimes she spoke to
Arthritis gently, and politely asked it to leave. Sometimes she railed against
it in anger and demanded its immediate departure, but to no avail. Arthritis
steadfastly refused and stubbornly remained.  Her arms ached, and had
become slightly bowed outward. Her wrists and elbows hurt, especially in the
morning. Today, shortly after waking, but still lying in bed, Lydia sensed that
something was wrong with her right hand. When she finally managed to push her
aching hand through the blankets into full view, she discovered that her
fingers were stiff, red, and grotesquely curled inward towards her palm. She
slowly stretched out her long fingers and pumped her fist until her hand again
resembled the familiar appendage she knew and loved. And so began another
day--another day of struggle, pain, immobility, and frustration, always
abundant frustration. Lydia sometimes wondered if her creaky old joints and
bones would ever move again. 



Despite life’s setbacks, however, Lydia was
determined to restore her health and better her life. She wanted to really be
somebody. Despite her age, and her aches and pains, she still had her wits, her
instincts, her education, her imagination, and most importantly, her curiosity
about life, a curiosity which had grown steadily since childhood. And Lydia had
fond memories of her childhood, even though it had been lonely. Lydia was an
only child born to older parents who coped responsibly with having an
unexpected child, but who never bestowed unconditional love or indulged in
frequent outpourings of affection. Lydia's parents died when she was young, and
she had then spent the expanding years seeking unconditional love and
acceptance, sometimes finding what she needed, sometimes not. And now with
a severe physical malady to cope with, Lydia's loneliness intensified. 
Lydia wanted to change her circumstances for the better, however, and she was
not going to let the past, old age, or that devil, Arthritis, stop her!



Lydia longed to be a famous, successful
writer. Lydia, in fact, had written a book, her very first book, and she was so
proud! Its title was, “Abbey Tabby, Feline Detective”. Abbey, the main
character, was a lovely Tortoiseshell with huge green eyes and dark gray
stripes, who had always been homeless, but sought to better her existence.
Abbey not only had good looks and a sweet temperament, she also had razor-sharp
instincts, and an uncanny knack for investigation and detection. She started
her own detective agency, initially operating behind some trash cans in the
back of her favorite alley.  Her business catered to the investigative
needs of the many cats in the area, who often needed assistance in finding
people and things. And Abbey had become a success! She was so successful, in
fact, and so highly regarded, that she finally opened her own tiny office in
the basement of an aging, abandoned, downtown Seattle warehouse. She even hung
out her little shingle by the door, and so far, business was brisk.  
This book, which Lydia planned to be the first in a series, chronicled
Abbey’s adventures as she tracked down missing friends, missing toys, missing
humoms, and a particularly baffling case concerning Hamish, a highly renowned
hamster. Hamish had mysteriously vanished from his cage and his house, despite
being under the watchful eye of his honorary brofur, close friend, and
confidante, Oscar the Cat. Oscar, frantic and grieving over the disappearance
of his beloved friend, had sought Abbey’s help to locate and return his chum to
his rightful place. For over a year, Lydia had sent her completed manuscript to
several publishers, but all to no avail. Rejection after rejection followed
each hopeful submission.



It was almost summer now, and things were
looking up for Lydia. Hope raised its optimistic head again, and Lydia mailed
her manuscript to yet another publisher. She had also started feeding a little
gray kitten. who possessed one white paw, three gray ones, and little patches
of orange on his chest and tail. He was such a cutie! She had first noticed him
one Sunday afternoon when she stepped onto her porch for a breath of fresh air.
Across the parking lot, she noticed a wide-eyed and apparently frightened
little feline pawing through her building’s dumpster.  At that time, Lydia
remembered having several cans of unopened cat food on hand, which she had
purchased as she optimistically awaited Tika’s recovery from illness. Tika had
never recovered, and Lydia could not bear to throw away any of her remaining
cans of cat food. When she saw Gray Kitty, Lydia brought a plate out to him,
which he eagerly devoured. Every day since then, he came back for a meal.



One day, as Lydia patiently waited to hear
from the new publisher, she took a taxi to go to the grocery store and to take
care of some other errands. On the way home, her cab took her along Broadway
Avenue, and while the car waited at a red light, Lydia's gaze was riveted to
the house on the southwest corner of the intersection. There was something
about it, she couldn’t quite place it, but there was something familiar about
this house, even compelling. After they cleared the red light, Lydia asked her
driver to pull over to the curb in front of the iron gate, and he graciously
obliged. She sat and looked out the back window for what seemed like a long
time, just staring at this imposing, yet lonely structure. Lydia had the sense
that this was no ordinary house.  In fact, she had the sense that this was
a very special house, indeed!



After a while, Lydia’s driver asked her if
she was ready to go home. She said, “Yes”, somewhat reluctantly, and thanked
him for stopping. Even as the taxi pulled away from the curb in front of House,
though, Lydia was unable to break the spell. She turned around in the backseat
to continue staring, and did so until House completely faded from view. Back
home, Lydia’s driver carried her groceries inside, while she climbed out of the
cab using her cane. She thanked and paid her driver, and he went on his way. As
Lydia put her groceries away, she realized that she was tired after her brief
journey. Lydia was grateful that an electronic riding cart had been available
for her to use at the market. Sometimes she would go and would have to sit and
wait for a long time for a cart to become available. Going to the grocery store
and running errands was a “big day out” for Lydia, and physically, quite an
ordeal.



Early that evening, Lydia set out the usual
plate for Gray Kitty. After he ate, he scratched at the front door, and Lydia
welcomed him inside. That night, he curled up next to her on her bed, shut his
eyes tightly, and fell asleep. As she lay in bed, Lydia could not stop thinking
about the house on Broadway. And for several days afterwards, memories of House
weighed heavily on her mind.



A few weeks passed. It was a Friday
afternoon in late June when Lydia got the news. She opened her mailbox, and
discovered that the small, independent publishing company, “Fur Fiction
Publishing”, to which she had sent “Abbey Tabby, Feline Detective”, had written
her a letter. They liked her book and wanted to publish it! Enclosed with the
enthusiastic letter from Editor-in-Chief, Christina Curtis, was a check--an advance
on her first sales! Lydia was thrilled! She had found success from doing
something she loved, and she could not have been happier! That evening, Lydia
sat on the edge of her bed and rested her face in her hands and smiled. Success
had found her, and now she would have some money to spend, too, and she could
better her life, and do some things she had always wanted to do. If she could,
she would have jumped for joy! But, she was content and happy, and just sat
still for a long time, savoring the moment.



First thing Monday morning, Lydia called a
neighborhood real estate office and inquired about the mysterious and
fascinating house on Broadway Avenue. Ben, the agent she spoke with, told her
that the house was indeed for sale, and that any reasonable offer she made
would likely be accepted by the home’s current owner, a local bank. Ben told
her if she wanted to look at the house the next day, he would stop by and
unlock the front door that evening.



Lydia took a cab to House the next day, but
then, about halfway into the journey, abruptly asked her driver to let her out
of the car, telling him that she’d like to walk the rest of the way. Lydia
didn’t exactly know why she wanted to walk, as walking was always difficult.
However, she was feeling very upbeat and positive about her life , and she was
curious to see if she could complete the walk alone, without any assistance,
except for her cane. After she paid her driver and exited the cab, it was another
six blocks to the house, and just a block into the journey, Lydia was already
in pain and struggling. About two blocks into the walk, Lydia found herself on
a sidewalk where a hopscotch pattern had been drawn in pink and blue chalk.
Lydia remembered her childhood, when she would draw a hopscotch pattern on her
parents’ patio in several different colors of chalk, then hop back and forth,
enjoying herself immensely, and laughing the entire time. She stopped for a
moment and pondered the irony, that she was now struggling to take each step,
and leaning heavily upon her cane, as she traversed the numbered path. Lydia
admired how colorful it was, and how well it had been drawn. Lydia had walked
about two-and-a-half blocks when she needed to rest. She was out of breath and
in pain, and she regretted her decision to walk. However, after sitting on some
stairs and resting for about ten minutes, Lydia forced herself up again. The
rest of her walk was arduous, but she continued. As she finally approached
House’s iron gate, Lydia was in such pain, and so tired, that she felt nauseous
and near fainting. Before trying the lock on the front door, she sat on the
crumbling concrete steps of the front porch for a couple of minutes. She became
aware of a bird chirping excitedly, and she looked up into the branches of an
old oak tree. On the lowest branch, sat a gray mockingbird. He kept turning
from side to side, displaying himself, as if he were intent on her admiring the
full glory of his feathered physique!



The front door was indeed unlocked. Lydia
had to push it hard to force it open, but finally it gave way. She entered a
large, dark foyer. To the right of the front door, there was an area that
appeared to have been an entry parlor at one time. There was a small fireplace on
the right wall and space for chairs in front. The fireplace was cold and dirty,
and appeared to not have been used in years. To the left of the fireplace was a
winding, dark mahogany staircase that meandered upward to an impressive balcony
overlooking the foyer. The staircase was still beautiful, despite a massive
buildup of dust and cobwebs. Lydia looked up curiously, but helplessly. There
was no way she could climb those stairs, at least not today. At the top, behind
the balcony railing, there were several observable entrances into what must
have been bedrooms. Lydia noticed a cracked pane of stained glass in a porthole
window halfway up the stairs. There was no light coming through, however. The
wood floors of the house were bare, except for thick dust and occasional broken
glass. Lydia, depending heavily on her cane, was careful where she stepped. It
was dark, the windows were all boarded up outside. To her left, through an
arched entryway, was the living room. Another fireplace, much larger, graced this
room, as did several floor-to-ceiling windows, two of which still had pieces of
frayed, faded fabric hanging from rusted curtain rods. Broken glass from an old
chandelier was strewn across the middle of the room. Through another archway
off the living room was a long room with a stunning hand-carved mahogany
fireplace, and a matching, faded mirror hanging above. Lydia surmised this must
have at one time been the dining room. What an elegant room it must have been!



Then she entered the kitchen. Someone, at
some point, had started to remodel it, as there was a row of newer-looking
cabinets along one wall, but the project apparently had been abandoned. Lydia
pushed open a back door off the kitchen, and looking outside, Lydia observed a
large backyard that was overgrown with weeds and tall grass, but there were a
few flowers along one section of the rickety old fence, and she knew that must
have been a garden at one time. Sitting by some lovely pink flowers, almost out
of sight, Lydia spied a kitten, a fuzzy little orange one, and she cheerfully
called out and said, “Hi, cute kitty! I love your house!” Kitten silently
stared at this newcomer to the property. Inside, connected to the kitchen, was
a hallway that led to a large bedroom and bathroom, the latter of which
contained a new-looking bathtub with a shower overhead. The kitchen hallway led
back to the foyer.



Lydia was tired from her walk and sat down
slowly on the second step of the staircase. She leaned her head against the
meticulously hand-carved railing, and although she didn’t intend to, she
promptly fell asleep. And House watched over Lydia while she slept, and hoped
that she would stay.



In her dream, Lydia glided effortlessly
over to the front door. It was standing open, and Lydia saw a handsome young
couple, the lady wearing a long pink dress and carrying a pink lace parasol.
She and the man were being trailed by a sleek, cheerful Irish setter. Suddenly
the man scooped the woman up in his arms, and she threw her head back and
laughed happily. Together, the three of them entered the house, and hugged each
other profusely, and seemed to not notice Lydia floating nearby. She turned,
and in the living room, she saw a fluffy black cat meowing vociferously at the
wall, as she blithely glided through the room. There was a long table in the
dining room, which had been set for ten places, and in its center, tall, thin
tapir candles were burning brightly. She floated upstairs, and in one of the
bedrooms, there was a young woman singing sweetly and gently rocking a baby in
an elegant, canopied crib. In her dream state, Lydia easily transcended the
adjoining wall, and found herself in another bedroom. This one was much larger,
and another mahogany fireplace, similar to the one in the dining room, was lit
and glowing. Across from this fireplace was an antique brass bed, topped with a
colorful patchwork quilt. A large purple rug graced the area between the bed
and the fireplace. Off to the side of the bed was a large closet with a crystal
doorknob, and there was a small room in the turret, filled with overstuffed
chairs and a prominent desk in front of one of the many windows that encircled
this room. A well-dressed gentleman in a vest and suit sat behind the desk,
feverishly writing something down on paper, and oblivious to Lydia’s presence.
Looking through the turret window, Lydia observed bright daylight, and a lush,
colorful garden suddenly appeared, filled with copious flowers in full bloom.
Suddenly, Lydia was downstairs in the entry parlor again, and saw a young
couple talking bashfully, and quietly holding hands in front of a crackling
fire.



Lydia felt herself being gently tugged, and
her eyes suddenly snapped open and she was back again, sitting on the
staircase, with her head resting against the railing. The house was growing
darker. She looked at her cell phone and discovered she had slept for over an
hour. Even though Lydia was alone in this big house, she did not feel lonely.
In fact, she felt welcome here, as if she belonged here. How beautiful she could
make this house again! Now that she would have steady income, she could make
the house into a real home. She promised herself she would call Ben, first
thing in the morning. She called for a taxi to pick her up and she returned to
her apartment.



To help her move into her new home, Lydia
hired a wonderful young woman with a warm smile, named Geri. She and Geri went
about the business of cleaning and clearing her apartment, and moving her
things to the house on Broadway. Lydia rented a small truck for the two of them
to use for a few days. For her heavier furniture, she hired a moving service
for one day to do the job. The very last thing she did before she turned and
quietly said goodbye to her long-term residence, was scoop up Gray Kitty, who
by now had become a regular fixture at her apartment, place him gently in
Tika’s pet carrier, and take him with her to their new home.



Arriving ahead of Lydia, Geri had let
Kitten inside House, and when Lydia came in with Tika’s carrier, Kitten sensed
something very familiar and very special about its passenger. When Gray Kitty
confidently stepped into the entryway, Kitten recognized her older brother! He
looked well-fed and happy, and he and Kitten ran swiftly toward each other and
hugged and greeted each other affectionately.



Lydia and Geri set about cleaning House.
Geri busied herself sweeping, mopping, and polishing the staircase, while Lydia
got a broom and dustpan and started sweeping up dirt, debris, and glass from
the foyer, entry parlor, and living room. Because of her arthritis, the work
was slow and difficult for her, but Lydia persevered. She was so happy to own
her own home at last! Lydia had hired a young man named Anthony as a handyman
and landscaper, and while Lydia swept, Anthony started removing the nails and
boards from outside the living room windows. Lydia, using a stepstool, had just
successfully removed a set of frayed, torn curtains, when daylight suddenly
burst into the room! Anthony and Lydia smiled at each other through the
now-unobstructed window glass, after the last board came tumbling down. House
was overcome with happiness! How many years had it been since she had seen
light streaming in through the windows? It was glorious!



During Lydia’s first week in the house, she
purchased large fans and had them placed around the home to provide some cool
air until she could have air conditioning installed. And she and Geri both
struggled mightily, and finally succeeded, in opening the stubborn windows and
letting in fresh air. Anthony mowed the front and back lawns, cleared out
weeds, trimmed a couple of the trees lining the front walkway, and began to
water and replenish the garden in the backyard. After the backyard grass was
newly mowed, Lydia discovered a little marker near the garden that read “Midnight”.
Lydia thought this must be a former house pet, perhaps the talkative,
raven-haired cat in her dream? She purchased a small rose bush, and asked
Anthony to plant it next to the marker, to honor and remember this former
resident.



Lydia hired a company to install a chair
lift so she could finally go upstairs. She and the two cats had been sleeping
in the first-floor bedroom for a week. To her pleasant surprise, the master
bedroom was exactly as in her dream, fireplace, turret, and all! Because of her
dream, she bought a large brass bed and covered it with a multi-colored
patchwork quilt. She purchased a purple rug and placed it between the fireplace
and the bed.



Geri worked in the kitchen to get it into a
usable state. Lydia had the utilities hooked up, and the vintage 1960 gas stove
and oven, after a thorough cleaning by Geri, were ready to use. There was only
one usable bathroom, the one downstairs--The old shower still worked OK,
although it spit viciously at Lydia the first time she turned on the water!
Lydia scheduled a plumber to come and help renovate the two upstairs bathrooms.



Lydia began to seriously consider names for
her two newly-acquired felines. She liked “Leo” for Gray Kitty, as he was
strong, brave, and loyal—lion-like qualities that she admired, so “Leo” just
seemed like a natural choice. Lydia adored Kitten—After all, Kitten came with
the house! After just calling her “Kitty”, for a few days, Lydia took notice
again of Kitten’s penchant for the pink lilies in the backyard. Lydia observed
that Kitten loved to stop, sniff, and stare at them. At first, Lydia thought
about naming her “Lily”, but somehow that didn’t seem right. Then she decided
on “Pinkie”—it just seemed to fit the cute, feminine, energetic little kitten.
Kitten loved the name “Pinkie”, and she was so happy to finally have a name of
her own!



As Lydia was enjoying her new role as
“homeowner”, there was good career news for her, too. Her book was selling
well, and she continued to prosper. During the day, Lydia cleaned, and hired
workers to continue House’s renovations. A new coat of exterior paint was
added, the upstairs balcony was bolstered and repaired, and the chimneys were
professionally cleaned so they would be usable this winter. She met with an
interior decorator who came to House and advised Lydia on furnishings, light
fixtures, and new wallpaper. At night, Lydia worked at her desk in the turret
office, writing her second book in the “Abbey” series. Life was good!



House was happy! She loved Lydia, and
enjoyed hearing her and Geri talk and laugh during the day. At night, she
quietly watched as Lydia wrote, and was soothed by the gentle noise her typing
generated. And when Lydia was sleeping, House loved seeing the cats play
together, and race up and down the stairs.  Pinkie would often talk to
House, and House loved listening to her tales of the garden and her adventures
in the neighborhood.



While the humans worked, Pinkie and Leo
were busy combing the neighborhood, looking for their little sister. They
desperately wanted to find her and bring their family together again. If it
were possible, the duo could have used the assistance of Lydia’s fictional
detective, “Abbey Tabby”, to find their missing sibling! While Lydia wondered
where they were disappearing to all day, the two kittens roamed the
neighborhood, up and down every street, up and down the alleyways. They
searched inside abandoned houses, and attempted to sniff out their sister among
the bushes and flowers in front yards and back yards. Once, they caught a glimpse
of fur on a tree branch, and they both rushed up into the tree, but, alas, it
was another cat, not their sister. Then, after several days of searching, Leo
spied a colorful little tuft of a tail protruding through a hole in a
broken-down old wooden fence. The little tail swished lazily around several
times. Leo deftly climbed to the top of the fence and looked down. There,
behind a bush, was his little sister, napping in the sunlight, and looking very
thin. Around four in the afternoon, Lydia heard frantic scratching at the
kitchen door. When she opened it, to her surprise, she saw three kittens
standing there, all staring up at her. In between Leo and Pinkie was another
little cat—a fuzzy Calico, and she strongly resembled Pinkie, although she was
shockingly thin. Lydia opened three large cans of food, and gently set down an
extra plate for the newcomer. Naming her was easy--Lydia called her “Callie”.
Leo and Pinkie doted on their baby sister, and the three kittens were so happy
to be reunited and living as one family again. They talked about their mama
sadly and joyfully, and believed she was watching over them, and that she was
happy they were all together. Callie ate well in Lydia’s house, and began to
put on weight.



Lydia decided it was time to do some
renovations on herself, as well. She scheduled an appointment with an
orthopedic surgeon, so that she could begin to have the surgeries she needed to
repair her decayed hip and knees. Her publisher scheduled a book tour for her
starting in April, so she set a goal to have her surgery done before that time.



When she purchased the house, Ben, the real
estate agent, had shown Lydia a vintage photograph of the front wraparound
porch of House, and a small sign was hanging from its eave. She couldn’t make
out what the lettering on the sign spelled, but she correctly surmised that it
was the name for the house. So, because this was the house that “Abbey Tabby”
had built, so to speak, Lydia had a wooden sign made, with the lovely carved
letters spelling out “Abbey House” for all to see. She asked Anthony to hang it
prominently on the front porch eave, so that everyone who came here would know
and remember that this house was special, she had a name. And House was so
happy to be loved and cared for again! And she loved Lydia and the cats, and
kept her secret that it was her special beam of love that had reached them, and
had drawn them all here.



When she needed a break, Lydia loved to sit
and soak up the sunshine on a cushioned lawn chair Anthony had set up on the
neatly-mowed front lawn. While she sat, Leo, Pinkie, and Callie played
together. One mid-October afternoon, as Lydia sat napping in her chair, one of
the cats leapt exuberantly onto her lap. Lydia opened her eyes and saw the
sweetest little face in the world watching her intently. And Kitten, now
Pinkie, her tiny eyes squinting in the brightness of the autumn sun, looked up
at Lydia and gave her the sweetest little smile a happy kitten ever smiled!



THE
END





 



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