The new family had just moved in. A young couple and their children; a girl six years old and a boy ten years old. Both redheads like their father.
 

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The brother and sister found, to their delight, two bedrooms on the second floor with a view of the backyard. A large tree stood between the two windows, separating the children’s rooms, and provided shade from the late summer sun.
 
That Sunday evening they sat around the dinner table tired, but grateful to have finished all the unpacking just in time for the new week. As they ate they shared what it was about the house each liked best. All agreed they liked their new abode, but they didn't yet have that "at home" feeling.
 
They retired early, each seeking the comfort of their own familiar bed. It was warm upstairs and the little girl opened her bedroom window to the cool night air.
 
Everyone slept later than planned. Realizing they were running late, they hurried about their morning tasks and headed out the door. In her haste, the girl forgot to close her bedroom window.
 
Later, as the sun hit its zenith and cooling shadows were scarce, the young female jumped up to the lowest limb of the tree in the backyard. From there she climbed until she reached the open window, then stepped in. She strode out onto the bed, just under the window, stretched luxuriously and had a look around.
 
As she stepped into the hallway a shaft of sunlight lit up her flaxen-white hair, warmed the wood under her bare feet. She gazed into the boy's room, and then strolled in. It took her two hours to investigate the entire house. She ended up back in the girl's bedroom. She climbed up on the bed, thought how marvellous a nap would be … and fell asleep.
 
A late afternoon zephyr rustled the tree limbs and sent leaf shadows dancing across the bed just as the family's car pulled into the driveway. Happy to be home, the children scrambled out of the car all the while jabbering about their first day in the new school. Once inside the house they dashed up the stairs in a rush to change out of their school clothes.

Startled, she woke up, scrabbled off the bed, out the window, and down the tree.

I watched her run across the yard, into the surrounding woods. And I was filled with a new emptiness.

Hurriedly the girl pulled off her dress and tossed it on the bed. Drew a pair of shorts and a t-shirt out of the dresser and put them on. When she turned back to her dress she noticed a few sun-blonde hairs on her bedspread. Perplexed, she reached out to brush them away and felt the warmth beneath her hand.

Her brother knocked at her door, asking if she wanted to go outside and play. She tossed her dress in the clothes hamper, followed her brother down the stairs, and forgot everything else. Giggling they spilled out onto the cool grass.

Autumn rolled in and the family became more comfortable in the house. The days were cooler and the nights were often crisp. From the cover of the woods, she watched them, and I watched her.

On foggy mornings she'd edge up closer to the house. After the family left she would cross the yard and explore the inside through the windows. The blinds were left open most days and she always peered in with interest, careful to notice the smallest change.

One early winter day the little girl had stayed home. Sick, with a fever, she slept fitfully in her bed. The little girl's mom made many trips from the first floor to the second, tending to her daughter.

That morning I glimpsed the blur of her as she hurried from the woods to the house. Quietly she climbed the tree. Huddled in the cold, she sidled up to the window, her nose against the windowpane though the blinds were closed. She stayed there until dusk, then retreated back to the woods.

Still not quite well the girl stayed home the next day.

Heedless of her anonymity, she paced restlessly in the yard. I opened the back door for her. And she walked in quiet as a ghost.

She headed for the stairs. Pushing the door open as she entered she gazed at the girl, and then walked over to the bed. She then climbed in next to her. Warm body against warm body, they both slept.

Later, checking on her daughter, the mother found herself looking upon two contented faces. She tenderly woke her daughter. The girl's brown eyes sparkled as she said, "Look Mom! Look what found me."

The woman glanced at the creature enfolded in her daughter's arms. Green eyes regarded her, glinting with contentment as the mother sat down on the bed.

I closed the door I had earlier opened. Feeling complete now, I too, was content.

I have always said: It is the soul of the house that makes it a home. And the soul of a home ... is a cat.

Joyfully,

The House



Kathy lives in Central California where she shares her life with her husband and furry family. She says, "I work full time for a living, and write in order to live fully." She is also a weekly columnist for the publication Frank Talk, which is distributed in several counties in the tri-state area of Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri. Her fifth book, For the Spirit-Soul, is a collection of her short stories and poems and will be released soon.
 

For more information about Kathy, visit her website here: http://www.kathyannepippig.com/


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