‘It’s Kali,’ Mom panted. ‘She… she ran away. I tried to stop her, but you know, cats… I’m sorry, I know that woman is coming tomorrow…’
I jumped off my bike and dropped it on the spot. I took off running, my heart now beating twice as fast as it should have been. If I didn’t have Kali tomorrow at noon, then... And I didn’t care about the money at all! This was about Kali and Ms. Garner.
I looked everywhere for the tabby cat; the trees, bushes, under cars, and behind the old rain barrel. I prayed that she’d just be crouching behind the rain barrel exactly like last time, that she’d just let me take her inside and would purr when I stroked her. But no.
Kali was gone.
Mom tried to help me think of what to do. She knew it was her fault because she left the porch door open, but nobody mentioned that, of course. No need to feel guilty when we need concentration.
’Maybe make posters, like, MISSING CAT! CALL SO-AND-SO! People might see her and tell you, maybe even bring her over, if they’ve found her.’
It was the best idea so far. And the only. My mind was not cooperating at a moment like this.
I called Josephine to help me make the posters because she’s creative and so terrific at art.
‘You know what she looks like, right?’ I asked her.
‘Yep.’ Josephine picked up a marker. ‘Well, you should actually put a photo of her on the poster instead of a drawing.’ she said, looking at me.
I sighed, feeling very small and irresponsible.
‘I don’t have one. I think probably some animal rescues and things take pictures of every animal they take in. In fact, I’m going to do that from now on, just in case something like this ever happens again.’ Which I very much hope not, I thought. ‘But that’s not going to help us find Kali.’
Josephine’s first poster was good. It had a drawing of Kali’s head in the middle, above that it said: MISSING CAT! And under the drawing, it had all the information people would need to know.
Josephine sensed my panic. She feels these kind of things.
‘Don’t worry,’ she soothed. “Kali will come back soon. She’ll miss all the attention she used to get.’
Her words were comforting but not entirely believed. I paced my room, silently hoping and waiting for an insistant meow from the porch. None came. Whenever I sat down, I immediately jumped up again, restless. My mind wouldn’t let me read my book. Who would?
Josephine was just drawing, coloring, writing— it would have made me crazy. I would not have had the patience. That’s also why she insisted on making the posters herself.
What would Ms. Garner say when she came to pick up Kali? Would I have to pay? Or find her a new cat just like Kali? Well, the tamed Kali.
‘Stop biting your nails, Ellie,’ Josephine ordered. ‘It makes me nervous.’
‘All your pencil scratching makes me nervous!’ I exclaimed. ’Nervous, crazy!’
‘Then let’s each go to different rooms,’ suggested Josephine. ‘Then we won’t bother each other.’
I moved to the porch. But my gaze kept being attracted to the empty cage. Its door was hanging slanted in a messy, lonely way. There were a few scratches on the inside of the cage that now seemed beautiful. Oh, Kali. Never thought I would miss you like this.
Soon I was back in my room with Josephine.
‘Never mind, I found out I can’t do without you.’ I helplessly plopped down on my bed.
‘Yeah, me too,’ Josephine admitted. ‘Look, I’ve got a big stack of posters!’ she said, trying to cheer both of us up. ‘We can start tacking them up around the neighborhood.’
‘Yay...’ I succeeded in trying to make it sound as depressed as possible.