Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Kitten

Killing the Shadow
Val McDermid

Trigger sentence. "The theme music of the late evening news thundered out its familiar fanfare."

Jenna watched the news every night before turning off the lights, locking the doors and heading upstairs to bed. There she would decide what to wear to the office in the morning, bringing a suit from the closet finding the right blouse, making sure everything was ironed. She would get her underwear and put it on the shelf bra on top of the panties in the niche on the shelf where she kept her clothes.

The coffee pot had already been set so the coffee would be ready when she walked downstairs at 6:19 every morning.

This had been her routine for the past four years, three months and two days since she went to work for Abraham, Gold and Matthews as the fourth attorney in the company. They were not one of those huge law firms that had hundreds of big corporation clients, but handled the everyday business of people in the town where she’d grown up.

She worked at the law firm summers when she’d been in college and again when she was in law school. Jacob Abraham had been a friend of her father’s. Don Matthews his golf partner. It was natural that they would take her on when she graduated until she passed the bar. After she got her results Don had offered a full time place, but said he understood if she wanted something bigger and better.

She was content and had no desire to change.

In the middle of the night she awoke to a mewing coming through the open window, not a howl of a cat in heat. The clock read 2:26. Although she tried to go back to sleep, the mewing continued.

Damn, she thought and stomped downstairs where the mewing was outside her front door. Although her town had little crime, she didn’t like opening the door when it was dark, but she did anyway.

A strawberry coloured kitten, not much bigger than one of her hands a half sat on the doorstep. He strolled in, rubbed against her ankles and headed toward the kitchen.

She followed him. He sat down and looked at her.

I’m going to hate myself for this, she thought as she opened the refrigerator and found some tiny plastic containers with cream. She opened two and put them in a saucer. He made them disappear in seconds but rather than look for more he walked back into the living room.

Common sense told her to put him outside, but he was so tiny that maybe an owl would consider him dinner. Instead she found an old box and put some dirt in it from one of her plants that was not going to make it and sat it by the door.

The kitten watched.

“You can stay tonight. Tomorrow we find where you belong,” she said as he jumped up on her printer.

Upstairs she climbed back under the sheet. Within minutes she wasn’t alone. The purr reminded her of the theme music for the nightly news.

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