The Seventeen Cats

My siblings and I had a 'writing contest' today, based on prompts.  (I got a "Writer's Toolbox" for Christmas and it is a.w.e.s.o.m.e.)  I decided to share my story here.  The first line had to be, "There were seventeen cats in Larry's basement." and I had to include "a weekend in Duluth" and "He was skating on thin ice- that's all I can say."


There were seventeen cats in Larry's basement. He took us down there one time while we were over to his house. Larry was the kind of person with slicked back hair and a razor sharp part. He was always wearing a bow tie. On the morning in question his bow tie was sky blue with pink polka-dots. Totally hideous. We had just finished off an entire bowl of popcorn while playing Scrabble, and we asked Larry if he had anything to drink. He smiled a full-tooth grin and beckoned us down into the basement. We crept down the steps, and Larry flicked the lights on. As our eyes adjusted we saw to our relief that it was a pretty normal basement. There was a fridge, some shelves, and a gallon of fruit punch sitting on the floor. My brother scampered towards the fruit punch, and, holding it above his head like a magnificent prize, scurried back up the steps. I turned to follow him when I noticed something. A shelf was hidden in the dark, almost behind the stairs, but light was reflecting off of something sitting on it. I took a few steps forward when Larry spoke.
“Ah, my dear, I was hoping you'd notice that! Would you like to see more?”
Not waiting for an answer, he flipped another switch, and the bookshelf was illuminated. But there were no books. Just three rows of ceramic cats. They were all identical in every way it seemed. One right after the other, equally spaced; and dispute being tucked away, perfectly clean of dust. They were quite small, I suppose, about 5 inches tall. I counted quickly: three rows of six cats each, minus one on the last row.
“What are they?” I asked.
“They were my late wife's. They look pretty ordinary, but looks can be deceiving. Each one holds a little secret. Here, I'll show you.” He flipped the first cat over, and revealed that it was hollow. Inside was a single, blue button. He handed it to me, flipped the next one over, and handed me a small screw. The third revealed a key; the forth, a piece of a shoelace; the fifth, a sewing thimble. By the time he reached the end, I had a whole handful of little articles. He turned around to face me and grinned broadly.
“Do you understand now?”
I looked up at him, deeply confused. “No.” I looked down at my hands, and back at him. “No, not at all.”
He laughed cheerfully. “I didn't expect you too. Now, I'll tell you.”

He took from my hands the little blue button from the first cat. He rubbed his fingers over it gently. “This was from Millie's jacket, I mean my wife, of course. She got this jacket for her eighth birthday. She lived in Vermont, you see, so getting a jacket was a big deal.” He replaced the button in the first cat, and then pulled the screw out of the pile in my palms. “This screw was from her first radio. That was her Christmas present the year she was fourteen. She loved listening to different bands and all sorts of music. She kept that radio until after we were married. At first almost every evening we would turn it on, push the couch out of way, and dance; just the two of us.”
He took the key from my hand, and held it up to the light. He chuckled softly. “When we got our first apartment; dear me was she bad at remembering things; she lost her key four times that first month. Finally I went to the store and had the man make me twenty keys to our front door, and then I placed them randomly around the house. I figured, that way, she was bound to find at least one of them in her search. We laughed about that for years.”

Next he grabbed the shoelace. The edge was frayed, but he smiled when he saw it. “This was part of the lace off of her ice skates. She ice skated as a child, but I had never been before. It was on a natural lake, and as I got more confident I skated farther from the bank. I guess I went too far, because I hit some weak ice and plunged right into the water. Millie and our friends scrambled over to me and I got out all right. When we got back to the lodge people asked if I was okay, and Millie just laughed and responded, “He was skating on thin ice- that's all I can say.” That was a joke in our house for many years.”
Slowly, piece by piece, he told me the story behind each article. A ticket to a theater from their weekend trip to Duluth; a piece of yarn from their favorite quilt; a scrap of a newspaper article on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Finally, all the memories were back safely inside the cats.
“There were only sixteen items, though. What is in the seventeenth cat?” I asked. Larry smiled warmly, and flipped the last cat over. It was empty.
“This,” he said. “Is for all the memories still yet to be. Because, you see, the importance is not in the things, but in the life behind the things. When Millie was dying, she made me promise that I wouldn't stop living and making new memories. That's the real lesson here, darling.”


Mr. Larry has long since passed away. My brother and I grew up, and moved. I don't know what ever happened to those seventeen cats in Larry's basement. But I know that I'll never forget to treasure the moments, and the little memories. Because in the end, those end up being what really matters.


I Think of Your Heart

I'm told of the world's beauty.

The Eiffel Tower's lights,
New York City at night.

The grass of faraway lands, 
The beaches filled with sand.

China's streets filled cars,
And the majesty of the stars.

All this is wonderful,
I'm sure.

But for my part,
When I think of beauty,

I think of your heart. 


Story Spinner Contest Winner

Sorry for the delay!  Since I only got 3 entries, and they were all so good, I've decided to post all three.  The two runner-ups are listed in no particular order.

Runner-Up #1: Rachel B.

 She looked in the mirror and smiled. There, she thought, I'm ready for whatever comes. She walked out of the room, pausing to glance wistfully at the picture on her dresser. "If only I could have saved her; however, you'll have to do." A deep Irish voice said, startling her from her thoughts.
"Don't do that, you know it scares me! Anyways, to the matter at hand; tonight is the night." She turned towards him, though staying a safe distance away.
"Indeed it is, little one; the trap is laid, only missing the final piece. The star of the show." He sneered.
"I'm ready. Let's go." She firmly stated, her confidence shrinking with her words. Gotta fake it till I make it; unless I want to die. So with those final thoughts, she followed him. 

Runner-Up #2: Julia Ryan @ The Barefoot Gal

 just a mirror
just a heart
slowly breaking,
tearing apart
the broken pieces fall to the floor
shattering dreams,
now no more
the shadows darken
the lights fade
then she's reminded
of His loving grace
the heartache is painful
the transition - beautiful
just a mirror
just a heart
growing stronger
with every dart

And, the winner, who took my breath away the moment I read it:

Winner: Mikayla H. @ The Bubblegum Ballerina

 A beautiful fleeting image passes in the mirror. An image of what will be, what could be, and what should have been. It was startlingly different from what I saw now, it hardly seemed to be the same person. But that image gave me hope, for there was no fear in those eyes. They were clear, happy, and at peace. They had a small shadow of past hardships, but your barely could it through the peace. The image in that mirror looked perfectly loved. In that moment of seeing it, I knew, without a doubt, I would do whatever it took to become that person.

Mikayla, darling, I'll be in touch. ;)

And thank you all to my 3 in-real-life friends.  This contest just proved how truly much I need y'all! ;)  You all ROCK and I love you very, very much. <3

More posts should be on their way...I'm working my way back to normal. (Or at least as close as I can get. hehe)