Countdown to Midnight #4: Good Girl

Posted by TERESA

Well, it’s October 8th.  By 11:59PM ET tonight, I will know whether I’ve won the NYC Midnight flash fiction contest in any way, shape or form.  And so, I give you the final story I submitted for the contest, entitled GOOD GIRLThe one I submitted when it was down to me and 39 other writers. Location?  A car wash.  Genre?  Fantasy. Object?  A kitten. I’m actually very proud of this one.  I spent a lot of time on it, but in a good way – it was inspired and I spent most of my time honing it, as opposed to coming up with an idea.  I love the main character, and would love to do a longer version of this sometime, regardless of its fate in this particular contest.  So, in a way, I’ve already won.  (Though a cash prize would be nice.)

Special thanks to Neil Gaiman, whom I ripped off a LOT in this (who, I’m sure, has ripped off a million other writers, right Neil?).  If you don’t know how I’m ripping him off here….well….forget I mentioned it.

kitten in dress

GOOD GIRL

Only eight weeks old, and she knew how it felt to be unloved.  Her mother would allow Kitten and her siblings to suckle, but she wouldn’t look at them.

Then the first of Kitten’s siblings was taken.  A small person, a girl, put her face up against the glass and showed her teeth. Kitten watched her brother make the mistake of stalking, then pouncing at Girl’s face, clawing at nothing. The next thing Kitten knew, someone reached in and took her brother out of their glass box, placing him in Girl’s hands.  The same happened to the others until only Kitten and her mother remained.  She promised herself that she would never approach the glass and be taken away, leaving her mother alone.

One day, a woman peered into the glass.  She, too, showed her teeth. Kitten did what she usually did – mewed over her shoulder.  Move along.  Nothing more to see here.

Suddenly, someone took the mesh cover off the glass box and reached for her.  She clawed at the hand, but her tiny claws didn’t do much damage.  She looked to her mother for help, but her mother sighed and turned her head, exhausted by the whole world.

Kitten was handed to Woman, who cupped one hand under her rump and held her under her shoulders with the other. Kitten’s heart beat like a hummingbird’s wings, but Woman held her close, tightly, giving Kitten the warm contact her mother never did. Kitten purred. Woman said, “All better now.”

There was a man who lived with Woman.  They touched faces a lot. Kitten learned many new things.  She learned that when the people said ANABELLE, they meant her. She learned that people showed their teeth when they were happy and said GOOD GIRL.  And she learned that people liked it very much when kittens climbed into their laps and purred. Kitten was happy.  For the first time, she was regularly nuzzled and cared for.

Then things changed. Woman began pushing Kitten away whenever she’d jump in her lap.  Water came out of her eyes a lot. Man started yelling at Kitten more often.  He spent a lot of time holding Woman close.

Woman would say, “All I’ve ever wanted was a little girl of my own.”

Man would say, “It’ll happen for us, honey.  You’ll see.”

Kitten didn’t like seeing her people sad or angry.  As Kitten fell asleep one night, she prayed to The Cat God and asked for her people’s happiness…

In Kitten’s dream, The Cat God was all black, except for his paws and his snout, which glowed white.

“You pray for others but not for yourself?” asked The Cat God.

“I like being able to make my people happy.  Now, nothing does that.”

The Cat God smiled.  “You have a kind heart, so I shall give you a gift.  Tomorrow, your people will take you on a trip.  They will put you in a fabric carrier and place you on the backseat of their car.  Once there, claw your way out of the front of the carrier.  I will give you the strength to do it.  Hide on the floor of the backseat.  You must not let them see you.  If you do this, you will be able to make them happy again…”

The next morning, everything happened as The Cat God foretold.  Her people announced a big trip – something about a vee-eee-tee – and put her in a carrier.  She was placed in the back seat, and quickly set to work.  She was able to fit one paw through the mesh, then two.  She tumbled out of the hole and onto the floor of the backseat, curling up into a ball.

The car stopped moving, and the people exited. Man opened the back door and removed the carrier without looking.  The people rolled up the windows and closed the doors. Kitten sat in silence for a moment wondering what would happen next.

Suddenly, the car moved forward on its own. Kitten looked up and noticed that there was soap and water shooting all over the windows. Then something even stranger happened.  She began to grow and change.  Her fur fell out.  Her hind legs grew long and became something very different.  Her front paws grew, but not as long as her hind ones.  No more walking on all fours.  Her nose got bigger, her tail fell off. Kitten was afraid. She beat the doors with her paws that weren’t paws anymore as water started shooting at the windows with increasing force. Kitten didn’t like the noise.  She opened the car door fumbling with a metal bit and slid out of the car. Hot water hit her bare skin, and it hurt.  She looked at herself through squinted eyes and realized she was a person.  She stood on only two legs, crying, trying to dodge the jets of water.  She heard a commotion, and noticed Woman looking at her through a window, flailing her arms, screaming.  The water was shut off, and three men came in and rushed Kitten out the door and into the office where Man and Woman stood, shocked.

Woman rushed to Kitten, held her and said “Someone get this poor girl a blanket or towel or something?!”

Kitten understood!

Woman knelt before her and asked, “How did you get in there?  Where’s your mommy and daddy?  Where are your clothes?”

“I dunno” Kitten said, using words she didn’t know she had.

“What’s your name?” Woman asked.

Only one name came to her lips.

“Anabelle” she replied.

Woman stared into Anabelle’s eyes, shocked.

“Honey,” Woman said to Man.  “Check the cat carrier.”

“What do you mean…?” asked Man as he glanced at the carrier.  He saw the front torn out and panicked.  “Oh no!  Anabelle’s gone!”

Woman wrapped Anabelle in a towel one of the car wash employees brought her.

“No.  I don’t think she is…” Woman said.

Anabelle put her head on her mother’s shoulder and nuzzled her neck.

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Published in: on October 8, 2009 at 6:37 PM  Leave a Comment  
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