Palo Alto Weekly 21st Annual Short Story Contest
Third Place Child


About Joanna Tang

June 26, 2006

Dear Journal,

Hi, it's me again, Matthew Samson.   Sorry I haven't been writing, but the past week has been so busy and exciting!   The first exciting event that happened was about a week ago.   My sister, Laura, and I were playing in our backyard when I saw something move in the bushes.   We walked closer and found a small Siamese kitten hiding there!   It looked so frightened.   I had an instant reaction to pick it up, and so did my sister, since we are both cat lovers.   Then I stopped reaching for it, and pulled my sister back, too.   "It might have a bad disease," I told her.   Poor little kitten.   Its fur was all scraggly, it was quite skinny, its eyes were all gunked up, it wasn't exactly clean looking, and all its whiskers were cut short (probably from malnutrition).   "I'll go get Mom.   You stay here and watch him.   But don't touch him," I reminded Laura.   I ran into the kitchen, where Mom was reading the newspaper.   I yelled, "Mom, Mom! There's a stray kitten in our backyard!"   As soon as she heard me, she quickly grabbed a towel to hold the kitten in (Mom is a cat lover, too--we already have 2 cats).   My mom and I rushed outside where Laura showed Mom the kitten.   Mom gently picked it up in the towel.   Then, we brought it inside and put it on the kitchen table.   Mom is a veterinarian (she doesn't work on weekends), so she knows how to care for a stray cat.   First, she did a simple check-over on the kitten and told us that the kitten was a Siamese mix, she was a female, had lots of fleas, had an eye infection, was undernourished, was dehydrated, probably had tapeworms, probably was the runt of her litter, and was about 8 weeks old.   Mom called her veterinary clinic and asked for eye medicine, flea medicine, fluids, and other medications that I can't recall.   The clinic had all the medications in stock, so Mom went to pick them up.   On her way out, I asked Mom, "Could we possibly keep the kitten?" "Maybe," she answered, which usually means "yes" in the end, so I started thinking of names for the kitten while Mom was picking up the medications.   Pearl, Snowflake, Sugar, Daisy, Lily, Lacy -- these were names that stood for her white fur.   Patches, Brownie, Spot -- these were names that stood for her brown Siamese points.   Rachel, Delilah, Katie, Susie, Sarah, Julie -- these names were just girl names that I thought might fit her (I tried not to go too girly).   I thought about names for a little while longer, then went to play with Laura.

       About 20 minutes later, Mom walked in.   "I got all the medications.   I also made an appointment to get the kitten spayed, too."

"That's great, Mom," I said.   Then I asked again, "So, can we keep her?   Please?"   There was a slight moment of silence, and then she answered, "I guess, if you really want to keep her, I'll think about it, okay, Matthew?"

       "Okay," I said, disappointed.

We put the little kitten in my bathroom along with a litter box, a bed, and dry food and water in 2 bowls.   Then, Mom went to the kitchen to get canned food for the kitten.  

       After the kitten had finished her canned food, Mom gave her a bath.   We brushed her again and put flea treatment on her.   Then we left the room and closed the door for the day.

       Another exciting event happened the next day.   I got dressed and had breakfast, then went into my bathroom to brush my teeth and play with the kitten.   A few minutes after I got into the bathroom, my mom came in.   "Oh, good morning, Matthew," she said. "How come you're up so early this morning?"

       "I just wanted to spend some time with the kitten," I answered.   Mom smiled and said, "Oh.   Well, I was thinking about the kitten last night.   I've decided, since you're 13, I'll let you keep the kitten."

       "Oh!   Really? Gee, thanks, Mom!" I exclaimed with a joyful heart.   "But," my mom said, "This kitten will be yours.   That means you have full responsibility for her.   Understand?   This includes feeding her, grooming her, giving her medications, cleaning her litter box, changing her water, and playing with her for company.   You also have to do your house chores and homework, when school starts, too.   Okay?"

       "Sure, Mom!   I'll do all those things as long as I get to keep her.   I promise!" I answered excitedly.   "And I know exactly what I'm going to name her."

       "What's that?" my mom asked.   "I'm going to call her Sunny.   I found that Sunny has dark brown stripes coming from her eyes that go half way around her head.   It looks like she's wearing sunglasses.   So I'm naming her Sunny.   She also has bright yellow eyes that remind me of the sun.   I guess those characteristics come from her mix."

       "Well, that's a very clever name, Matthew," my mom said.   "How about getting started on your cat chores now, eh?"

       "Okay", I answered, enthusiastically.

       The next few days didn't go perfectly.   I kept forgetting to do my cat chores.   The first time I forgot to do something, Mom wasn't too mad at me.   However, the second time, I forgot to give Sunny her medicine so Mom got a bit irritated.   The third time, I forgot to do two things, so Sunny whined for food, and Laura said that the room stunk from the litter box.   Now, though, I've gotten used to these new chores.   I've made myself a mental schedule of chores.

       The day before yesterday, something awful happened to Sunny.   The first thing in the morning, I got dressed, ate breakfast, and then went up to my bathroom to brush my teeth, brush my hair, and give Sunny her breakfast and medications.   When I opened my bathroom door and put Sunny's food down, she didn't come.   I called Sunny's name, but she still didn't come.   I ran to the kitchen where my mom was eating breakfast.   "Mom! I can't find Sunny!" I exclaimed.

       "Are you sure?"

       "Yes!   I can't find her!"

       "Did you put her in your bathroom last night?" (Sunny gets to roam around the house in the day, but at night, I put her back in my bathroom.)

       "Yes! But now I can't find her!" I answered.

       "I'll come and check with you, Matthew.   I'm sure Sunny's in there somewhere.   Calm down," Mom said.   We went to my bathroom, and as soon as Mom walked in, she noticed something.   "Matthew, you left the window open!   Sunny must have escaped!" she exclaimed.   "Oh no!" I cried out.   "I did leave the window open!   I was cooling off the room yesterday and must have left it open!"

       "Wait," my mom said.   "Maybe Sunny is just out in the front yard."   I ran outside hoping to find Sunny sitting somewhere out on the lawn.   I couldn't see her anywhere.   I looked behind all the bushes, but all I found was a black squirrel who scampered away as soon as he heard me.   Then, I looked out on the street, and there was Sunny, trotting over to greet me.   When Sunny was in the middle of the street, though, I heard a rumbling sound.   Sunny heard it too, and stopped trotting.   I recognized that sound as a car, and when Sunny didn't move, I ran out onto the street. "STOP!" I yelled.   The driver braked as quickly as he could and just missed me and Sunny.   Boy, was that ever a frightening moment.   For a minute, I thought we were both going to get run over.   I advise you never to jump in front of a car.   At that moment, my mom came out and saw me and the car.   She frantically came running out onto the street.   "Are you all right, Matthew?!"

       "I'm fine, Mom.   There's not a scratch on me.   And I found Sunny, too.   See?" I said picking up my scared-out-of-her-wits cat.   "It's good that you found Sunny, but don't ever jump in front of a car again!"

       "I won't.   You can count on that!" I said.   Then, the car driver came out.   "Gee.   Sorry, I didn't see your cat.   It's just kinda hard to see such a small cat from the front seat of a car.   I'm sorry I almost ran over your boy, too," he said.   "Oh, well, you didn't mean to do it.   And they are both all right, thankfully," Mom said.   We stepped off the street and waved the driver on his way.   Then we went inside, and I gave Sunny her breakfast.   The rest of that day went by peacefully.   Well, after Mom finished giving me a lecture about car safety.

       Since then, everything has been perfect.   Sunny hasn't gone out of the house.   I haven't forgotten to do my chores.   Plus, our two other cats don't mind Sunny at all.   I actually think that Tiger and Winston like having a female playmate.   Everyone has been spayed or neutered, so all the cats can be together.   Sunny has even graduated from staying in my bathroom at night to being able to roam the whole house, 24-7.   We gave Sunny another bath and got her all cleaned up.   Tomorrow, we are going to the vet to get Sunny micro-chipped, and for a checkup.   I'm so glad that I got Sunny as my very own pet.   I better get into bed now, before Mom finds out that I'm writing instead of sleeping.   I'll write about how the vet visit goes tomorrow.


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