Strawberry Hair, Mary-Janes, and a Very Fat Cat

My naked feet kissed the hot, crispy gravel as I hopped down my country driveway to the mailbox. Trying to touch the baking little shards of rock as little as possible, I pranced quickly to the end of the drive, bearing the prickly heat until I could stand on the deliciously cold, green grass. Unfortunately the end of my driveway presented another 15 feet or so of even more searing hot asphalt before I could reach the mailbox. I crossed the vacant street as quickly as possible in order to reach the grass on the other side. Standing at an angle in order to keep my feet planted in their nice chill haven, I reached around into the mailbox and plucked out my limited assortment of letters. Without glancing down at the names and addresses I held the letters to my chest and prepared my tender feet for the rock-riddled hike back to the house.

Once I got inside I cleared a few stacks of rumpled old lists, letters, and bank statements, pushed aside the accumulated papers of yesterdays, and sat down with my humble bundle of parcels. I turned over my pile of envelopes and looked at each one, tossing aside the unimportant. Once I got through my short stack of Janes and Johns desperately trying to sell me whatever it is they have to offer, I sat disappointed. Just as I was about to sink back into my bedroom and crawl up with my journal, I saw it, lying happily on the worn wooden floor next to my Mary-Jane’s and an empty donut box. I picked up the envelope and stood for awhile just smiling at it. Then I scurried out of the side door in my kitchen and found a luscious patch of Kelly-green grass to kneel in as I revealed to myself the contents of the envelope.

I gingerly unfolded the letter and led my eyes across each line hastily and excitedly. The moment I finished I dashed up the hillside back into my house and ran to my bedroom for a tube of red lipstick and a butterfly barrette. I scurried haphazardly around the house looking for a comb and exclaimed when I found one in a cup of pens. I stood by the mirror and clipped my strawberry curls back in the butterfly barrette, trying to comb away fly-away hairs. I then poised my lips carefully apart in a Dorian Gray-esque innocence and painted each one with bright red.

The second I was done I ran to the door, but tripped over my Mary-Jane’s, reminding me that shoes might be a good idea on this excursion. I slipped on my worn patent-leather shoes and dashed out the door to my bike, red-leather-buckle-backpack in hand.

Streaming down the bleached road, hair coming loose just as quickly as it had been put up and bike wheels clicking, I pedaled as if I would find a whole cave of honey rhubarb pies waiting for me if I worked hard enough.

Turning round the corner past the white house with a thousand cats and a perpetually decorated Christmas tree in the front yard, I began to tire. One very large, mean cat, who I liked to call “Angry Agnes,” made it a habit to lay on the end of the porch, letting her impressive belly hang off the side. She would eye anyone she decided she didn’t like, which seemed to be everyone, and only shifted position so she could hiss at something or if there was an opportunity for food. Apparently I presented an opportunity for food because right as I slowed down she shot up from her default position into a ferocious jet-like bullet, expertly propelling her bouncing body over the pavement with her short legs, a face full of determination. Soon enough I could feel her cheetah-fast body gaining on me and her claws batting at my red leather backpack. Afraid that Agnes might scratch all of the red pigment off my backpack, I surrendered to the ferocious feline and hit the breaks. I opened my pack and grabbed my tuna fish sandwich with cheese and set it open-faced in front of her. She sniffed it for a few moments and then looked up at me with pleading eyes. She didn’t want it; but she was still there, pathetically looking up at me. She began walking between my legs and wrapping her fat body around my calves, purring. I kicked aside the sandwich, knelt down and cradled the weighty ball of purring fur in my arms. I abandoned my bike and made my way, Agnes in arms, back to the white house.

As I approached the house, the sea of felines parted as I carried their feared leader across the spotted lawn. I knocked on the front door only to have it fall forward, into the dusty den, sending clouds of collected filth swirling into the rafters.

“Hello…?” I called into the cavern, my voice ricocheting off the floorboards and an abandoned old sofa, a scintillating chandelier hanging on tightly by the last few bits of strained twine being my only witness. I looked down at the rotund mess of fur in my arms, spotted with two marble eyes, glowing up in the warmth of embrace. That was when I decided to take Agnes with me.

Heading back, I found my bike again, set the little creature back on the pavement, expecting her to follow behind. I realized even at my slowest pace Agnes was too tired from her laborious lope and too fat to keep up, so I put her in the wicker basket attached to my handlebars and started pedaling crazily for lost time. The fat little doll cowered away from the wind as I gained speed and started crying during turbulence, ears cupping themselves against her little head. I would’ve stopped to make her more comfortable, but I was too determined to get where I was going.

I passed house upon house, never stopping or slowing, even for the old man I usually said hi to on the way to school and bought 40-cent watermelon from. Old goose ladies who gathered together in squawking bunches on their front lawns gawked at me and my bulging cat, rattling wheels, and crazy strawberry hair flapping in the wind as we passed. Agnes and I chuckled together as we strode away, leaving the bustling busybodies biting their fingernails.

Finally I reached the obscure entrance with its moss-covered sign, leading to a secret little haven only locals and adventurers could find. I hopped off my bike and carried Agnes up to the singular spot which the letter had so carefully instructed me to find. I waited there, on the edge of the lake, wistfully waiting for him to arrive, percussing the ground with sticks until I had no beats left to percuss. As the sun touched the horizon I realized he was not coming. I looked down into the lake at my reflection:  hair tousled and lipstick smudged, and I realized even Agnes had left my side. I looked around for the cat, but she was off to better things, probably scouting out her dinner in the forest. And so I sat, no cat, no boy, completely alone on the banks of an empty lake; not even the crickets were out to play.

I am a high school junior at Gibraltar, 16 years old. I mostly enjoy writing prose and poetry, but for me there’s not much difference between the two besides punctuation, and (maybe) some plot. Little things that I enjoy are swimming during thunderstorms, making lists, phrases like “the bee’s knees,” “the cat’s pajamas,” or “to be in cahoots with someone,” and the smell of old books. A few things I don’t like are soggy cereal, when albums only have one good song on them, and the excessive use of automated things in public bathrooms.