Melissa’s Cat

A children’s story

by Ingrid Ferlo

In the town of Pereira in Colombia lived a sixteen year old girl named Melissa who had a cat named Gatito. Gatito was a White cat with gray patches and a Little too heavy for his size. Melissa loved tickling his neck while he nuzzled on her leg on the sofá. Melissa loved gatito dearly because he seemed to her was the only one who understood her perfectly. She was going through some thought times where she felt very lonely. She felt estranged from her mother and father who didn’t understand her behaviour, dressing style and choice of music. They constantly scolded Melissa for slacking off in college and not being more diligent. Their disappointment hanged heavy over Melissa because she felt she was a waste as a daughter and they would have been better off having more than one child. On top of that, she also suffered from high expectations from her spinster aunts who constantly told Melissa in a demanding way that the family depended on her. Melissa was a very sad girl. He had recently lost her best friend to a fight over a guy and she had no one to tell her secrets to anymore. She would have felt completely alone after she lost Karina, her best friend, if it wasn’t for Gatito. They were very close. Melissa took utmost care of him. She fed him the best cat food found in Pereira. She bought him toys so he would not be bore when she went away. She took him to the groomers, where everyone thought he was the cutest cate ver and commended Melissa for taking good care of him. Melissa was very proud and liked the attention. She loved Gatito so much, she missed him when she was at school. He was always waiting for her on the sofa when she came home. It seemed to Melissa at this point, that Gatito was the only one she had in the world.

One day when she came from college, he mom was waiting for her by the door, her face aggrieved. Melissa had a premonition. Something had happened to Gatito, he had gotten sick all of a sudden, he was at the vet and Melissa should go there immediately. Melissa felt terrified but hurried off to the vet.

When she reached there Gatito was unconscious. She cried thinking he was dead. The vet said he was not, but that nothing could be done to save him. Melissa begged him for a miracle. The vet explained the condition but didn’t understand all the veterinarian jargon. The vet told her that Gatito would need a completely new liver to survive, without it he would surely die by tomorrow. There was the option of buying a transplant but Melissa’s family did not have the money for it. Melissa cried helplessly. She could not bear the thought loosing Gatito, of not having him waiting for her everyday, of being completely alone in the world.

The vet asked her to go home and think about it, she could come and say her final goodbye to Gatito tomorrow.

Melissa went home disheartened. She went straight to her room and refused to eat. She cried desperately and thought a lot about how to save Gatito. She could think of here no way. Gatito was imminently going to die.

She was lying on her bed holding tightly onto her pillow when she Heard a cat meow at a Little distance. There was an alley behind her house where the garbage was collected and many cats lived in that impoverished back alley sometimes so skinny that their ribs popped out from under their balding fur. The cats looked extremely sad to be alive. They had no one in the world to care for them. They had to struggle hard and fight with each other for a morsel of bread toe at every day. Melissa always heard their meows coming from the back alley and she felt sad for them but at the same time she was grateful to God that Gatito was living in happy conditions.

It started to rain and the rain patted heavily on Melissa’s window. Wind also howled strongly and lighting flashed violently. The back alley cat’s meows sounded sadder tonight than ever. They seemed to be imploring for a solution to their cruel existence. They seemed to be fighting with God. Melissa thought about Gatito lying at the vet’s clinic, cold and alone on the verge of death. He too probably was listening to the rain feeling afraid to be without Melissa. It hurt Melissa to imagine him like that. She sobbed into her pillow. Lightening struck and a back alley cat screeched in terror. Melissa startled on her bed. She sat up and looked around her room. She suddenly knew what she had to do.

She put on her rain coat and her rain boots with Marylin Monroe pictures on it. She managed to fin dan umbrella and went out of her room to the kitchen. There she opened the first drawer where her mother kept the knives. She wrapped it with a plastic bag and put it into her rain coat pocket. She found the ice cooler on the lower cabinet shelf and scraped all the ice out of the freezer. Then she opened the door to make her way outside.

The howling wind challenged her footsteps and fought with her umbrella. She felt she might loose her balance but pushed her way forward into the back alley.

When she turned the corner, the building protected her from the angered nature. She walked a Little bit and she came up to the garbage collectors where the cats lived. The cats apprehended her threatening figure, umbrella in one hand, ice cooler hanging heavily on the other and draped in her long rain coat. The frightened cats hid terrified behind the garbage receptors and meowed softly in pleading. Melissa stopped, her eyes adjusting to the darkness. She could barely see anything least any of the cats because most of them were black. The lightening was her only aid. When it flashed it discovered the hiding place of the frightened felines. They crouched in defense as they saw the menacing figure approaching them. Melissa spotted one of the cats hiding behind receptacle number thirteen. Her eyes gleamed with determination. She hurried up to it, the cat screeching in terror now even more. It was a small, furry black one probably a kitten. She threw her umbrella aside and putted down the cooler beside her as she bent down to take the kitten into her hands. The kitten crouched low onto the floor and covered its face as Melissa reached down to it. The other cats screeched loudly and scratched their paws in protest but remained hidden behind their chosen receptacles terrified for their own lives.

Melissa picked up the kitten gently and put it on her lap. She caressed it tenderly and tears started trickling down her cheeks dripping on the kitten. As she cried silently Melissa reasoned but the only thoughts that came to her justified what she was going to do. They were telling her that she needed to do it for Gatito. They were telling her that these cats did not have a happy life, that they would themselves prefer to die. They were telling her that they lived tormented for lack of food and exposed to harsh weather every second of their lives. She remembered their constant screeching and how tormented it sounded. She was doing the right thing. She was not only saving Gatito but relieving the kitten from the horrifying life it was condemned to live.

She caressed the kitten one more time, is fur wet with the rain. She took out the knife from her pocket and slid off the plastic wrap.

In her biology classes she had just learned how to do dissections. She had always loved science so she learned the lessons naturally. It was so in the dissecting class. Melissa had always had a great curiosity to find out everything about anatomy. She yearned to see the inside of human body. The class was still too Young for that but her teacher was cooler than the others and instead of teaching the dissecting class with a frog as other teachers had done, he brought in a cat and had the class dissect it and analyze each organ.

Melissa knew exactly where to find the liver but she had to cut off the life from the cat first so he would not resist. She brought the kitten down to the cement floor and held its neck separated. It couldn’t offer much resistance because it was too small. Her eyes gleamed with pity and sordity. Lightening struck and she slid the blade on the kitten’s neck. Blood spurted out rapidly but soon it stopped and flowed slowly. Melissa knew she could open him then. He opened his chest and made the vertical incision. There laid the kitten’s organs, the heart still pumping softly, the blood still warm but Melissa knew she had limited time to putt he liver in the ice. She cut out the liver with utmost care damaging the organs around it. She held the liver in her hand and open the cooler, made a big enough hole in the ice and placed the liver at the bottom patting ice over it to protect it and closed the cooler. She then threw the kitten’s carcass into receptacle number thirteen picked up her umbrella and the cooler and hasted out of the dark back alley. The cats in hiding were purring and scratching as if mourning.

In some minutes she was at the door and scrambled back into the house. She folded the umbrella and went to her room. She placed the ice cooler under her bed and took off the wet rain coat. She dried off the part of her hair that had gotten wet and sat on her bed pensively, fighting ,anxiously waiting for morning.

Her mother was knocking on the door violently and startled Melissa out of her bed, she had fallen asleep. Her mother was asking if she was ok and what time she will go to see Gatito. Melissa still bewildered by the sudden wakening and by the previous night’s events answered confusedly but enough to satisfy her mother. Or a moment she felt all her been a nightmare, that she had not managed to get a liver to save Gatito’s life.

She startled out of bed and checked for the cooler. It was right there. She smiled satisfied. She would have to come up with a plan to explain the sudden appearance of the liver to her mother. An idea came to her. She would tell her mother that she had called a friend who Works at the Human Society and that he had found a transplant and had brought it over very early.

In some minutes she was ready to go to the clinic. She came out holding the ice cooler and the questions from her parents and aunts as to what it was, drew her concocted explanation. They were easily satisfied.

She refused breakfast so they left immediately for the clinic. Reaching there, the vet met them in a down casted mood and Melissa thought Gatito had died. The vet said he was still alive but more critical. Melissa excitedly told the vet same story she told her mother about the liver and handed it to him. The vet was very pleased and took the cooler and checked to verify if the liver was good to be used. After satisfying himself he proceeded to ready Gatito for the transplant. Melissa waited impatiently outside. The transplant was done and the vet came out from the operation room in good mood. He told Melissa the transplant had been successful, that Gatito responded well and that he was hopeful of his recovery. Melissa went in to see him as soon as he was conscious. He eyes were lucid with all the medication and purred softly but Melissa was happy that he was alive. They kept him two days under observation and released him to go home. Melissa was the happiest girl when she took her Gatito home. She envisioned that everything would return to normal soon.

Gatito slowly recovered his strength. He was walking and eating in no time. He seemed more robust that before. He seemed more alive as well. He jumped around the house more and ate more, and meowed more often. He was quite energetic and not gentle and mild as he used to be. The change in him irritated Melissa’s mother who was always cleaning after him and scolding him for jumping onto the table to sneakily eat someone’s food or do his necessities anywhere in the house. Gatito’s change quite overwhelmed everyone but Melissa. She was just happy he was alive. He was not quite the same, granted, he did not wait for her to come home to play on the sofa anymore. He did not let her tickle his neck anymore, he screeched brusquely when she tried to hold him waving his paws violently to scratch her. He spend most of the time hiding under the bed when she was home. His behavior was erratic. Sometimes he would be gentle, like the old Gatito and all of a sudden he would become aggressive and scratch her. He spend a lot of time by the window pane facing the back alley. In the night he meowed in a frighteningly manner when the back alley cats meowed. Melissa was disturbed by Gatito’s change. It was as if he was another cat. She became frustrated and absent minded in college.

Still she tried her best to accommodate herself to his change. She brought him to sleep in her room she would not cause any mischief to her family at night.

She looked at Gatito lovingly and tried in vain to pet him. He preffered to sleep under the bed. That night Melissa had a dream that she was back in the dark alley with the kitten’s neck separated. She woke up in a fright and Gatito was lying on her chest, his eyes gleaming staring into her eyes. He meowed a horrible sound and cracked his neck. Melissa screamed and threw him off her. He scratched the rugged floor violently and started pounding his head on the floor. Melissa pleaded him to calm down. She implored him to be the same Gatito he used to be. She cried unconsolably standing on her bed out of fear that he might attack her. She implored but he didn’t pay mind. He paced around the room madly at the sound of meows coming from the back alley. He paced back and forth screeching that horrible way drowning Melissa’s sobs. He looked like he was about to climb on the bed and attack Melissa when he spotted the window. He looked at it decisively and in a single jump he crushed the glass and landed outside on his feet. Melissa jumped off the bed and ran tot he window. She caught one last glance of him as Gatito looked back at her, his eyes gleaming but gentle. She called out to him pleading him to come back into the house but he was already gone.

Melissa cried unconsolably all night. The next morning and for the next seven days she and her family tried to find Gatito but to no avail. They put up posters but no one responded. Often they searched the back alley, where the cats screeched threateningly when Melissa approached, her family was always surprised by their behavior toward Melissa but attributed it to the strangeness of back alley cats. Melissa searched as much as she could, but never found her cat.

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