Monday, October 20, 2014

Joey (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Joey purred her way into my life just when I needed her the most.

photos by Leanne Dyck

I was exhausted from pouring energy into my career, my volunteering, my studies, my... All of that coupled with the death of my mom left me a mere shadow of my former self. 

Did Joey sense how much I needed her soothing presence?

Searching for a place to heal, brought me to Mayne Island, to a house on Wood Dale Drive. As my husband was working on the mainland, I meet with Barb--my potential landlady. The house was spacious and well-constructed. Tour over, Barb led me back into the living room. She offered me a seat on the chesterfield. 

"How much are you asking for rent?"

A voice plummeted down the stairs. "Where's my...? I can't find my...? Ugh!"

"Just a sec." Barb climbed the stairs.  

"But Mom..."

Mom--that name conquered memories and... I felt so alone. 

A fluffy grey cat pranced into the living room.

"Oh, hello. Aren't you beautiful," I told her.

She looked at me as if to say, Why yes I am beautiful. How nice of you to notice.

"Here, kitty. Come here," I softly called.

With regal flare, the cat claimed my lap and curled up into a clump of purring grey fur. And I was no longer alone.

Barb came back and sat down beside me. "Joey is usually very shy around strangers, but she chose you."

Sam and Joey on our porch

First Joey and then her brother, Sam, joined my husband and me in that house on Wood Dale Drive. Adults, they taught us how to live with cats. 

A skilled hunter, Joey introduced us to an array of Mayne Island wildlife--mice and birds, even a hummingbird. Most of them became additions to her diet. 

A patient sister, Joey attempted to teach her brother to hunt. She'd bring him a half-dead mouse. She served it like a mother cutting her child's meat. Sam toyed with the poor little creature, but he just didn't have it in him to kill. The mouse limped away. And the look Joey sent me, Honestly, males! I just can't teach him anything. 

A devoted companion, Joey helped me heal. I folded her into my arms and wet her grey fur with tears. She never seemed to mind; she never left my side; she was always there.

On August 21st, Joey slipped out of my life as gracefully as she had slipped in. 

"She has lived such a long life," I told the vet. "If she were a human we would celebrate it."

Sharing my author journey...
I've been collecting rejection letters--because that's what writers do. My favourite one, to date, arrived last Thursday. It said, to summarize, that they liked the story but felt it wasn't complete. They also said that they'd like to read the finished story. And I've been working to make that happen ever since. (And right here I should thank my husband for taking time out to edit and offer very helpful feedback. All writers should be as blessed.)