Part 5: The Other Kitten

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The other kitten must have slipped down on to the floor, Hannah thought

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The other kitten must have slipped down on to the floor, Hannah thought. She needed to find it before it got stepped on or eaten by a dog. She looked around for the source of the voice, to ask the little girl where she had seen the kitten, and she froze.

The little girl was pointing out the narrow window, her eyes widened with horror. "The kitten!" she screeched. "It's drowning!"

Hannah rushed to the window. Aaron stood up, leaning on the wall for support as he hobbled after her.

Through the window, Hannah could see the kitten – one of her little, innocent kittens – cowering in a puddle in the middle of the yard. She grabbed for the door handle, but as she did, a crash of thunder shook the building, the lights fluttered, and a gale of wind swept across the yard. She jumped back for a moment, then reached for the handle again.

Aaron grabbed her arm. "You can't," he said.

"I have to!" she said, pulling her arm loose and reaching for the door handle.

Aaron stepped in front of her. "Hannah," he said. "You can't go out there. It's not safe."

Mike stepped up next to them. "He's right, Hannah," he said. "The storm is getting worse. We can't open that door again."

Hannah looked past them through the window. The kitten was scrambling to get a hold on the earth with his claws between somersaults, his little body tossed by the wind.

"Move!" Hannah said, and after exchanging a glance, Aaron and the doctor stepped aside. Hannah grabbed the door handle and tried to yank it open, but the wind outside was blowing wildly, holding the door so strongly that it barely even budged. Hannah's resolve melted as she realized that this time, she really was too late.

She placed her hands on the window and pressed her face to the glass, and Aaron moved up to stand beside her. A small crowd formed behind them. They all watched silently as the kitten continued to claw at the earth, trying to keep hold as the wind tumbled his tiny body. A murmur of hushed exclamations arose every time the kitten tumbled, followed by a grim silence as he resumed scrabbling for a toehold in the mud.

Suddenly a branch came flipping toward the building, and Hannah and Aaron both ducked as it missed the window by inches.

"Get away from the window!" someone yelled, and the crowd ebbed back against the opposite wall. Hannah stood and looked out the window again, searching for the stranded kitten. It was gone. Her eyes blurred with tears as Aaron's arm led her back toward the other wall, and she sank to the ground, clutching her one remaining kitten. Aaron slid to the floor beside her and put his arms around her. She looked at his outstretched leg, the ankle beginning to swell noticeably, and a sob broke out. Aaron hugged her tight and she clutched his shirt as she cried into his chest.

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