Thursday, November 9, 2023

My New Home: A Short Story by Charlene Groves

I met Charlene Groves at a coffeehouse sometime in late 1974, a blind writer and poet from Martinsville, New Jersey. Though I had written some stories in college--which to this day I regret having lost--I had not yet determined to pursue a career as a writer.

Charlene was roughly 30 at that time. In addition to fixing music boxes, she was a prolific writer, having produced numerous short stories and countless poems. She also had two or three sci-fi novel manuscripts under her belt.

The first story I'd read of hers was called A New Toy. It was a heartbreaking story about an alien who had come to earth and was put in a cage by scientists to be studied, treated like an object and not a person.

When I moved away from New Jersey in 1976 she shared with me two binders of her collected shorter writings. This is one of her early stories.

My New Home

"Meow," I said sadly.

I have already searched through the rooms of this strange house once. Now for the second time, I explore carefully each odd corner. Again, I examine every unfamiliar smell. I am on my second trip around the living room, when I realize that it is no use. My mother, sisters and brothers, are gone. I have been taken from them.

There is a bowl of warm milk, plus a bowl of dry cat food, over in the corner by the big window. But they do not interest me.

"Meow! Meow!" I am lost in this strange new world. The world has suddenly become too large for me. At present, it is a very lonely world. "Meow! Meow! Meow!" I cry.

"Oh, there you are, kitty. I've been looking all over for you."

"Meow!" I say again.

"What's the matter, kitty? Your food and milk are right here.

Oh if only I could make this little boy understand me.

"Please don't cry, kitty. I know what the trouble is. I bet you're lonely. I know I would be if I were in your place."

Then a most amazing thing happened. The little boy bent down and picked me up. He sat down on the floor and held me in his lap. Immediately I relax, and snuggle into the warmth of his body. Soon I am purring loudly. I am no longer afraid.
I stay in the little boy's lap for the rest of the afternoon, drawing deep comfort from the sound of his voice as he talks to me. I doze frequently. I am only half aware of the steady beating of rain on the roof.

My mind drifts back into a dream of my past. In the dream, I am with my mother again. I feel warm and safe. My stomach is full of her rich nourishing milk. I have a cozy place to sleep among my brothers and sisters. But those days are gone forever. I, the son of Tiger, must now make the best of things in this new world, the way they are right at this present moment.

When I wake up, the boy is still talking to me and stroking my fur. I know now that this boy has given me his friendship. I feel warm and safe being with him. I sigh happily. I, the son of Tiger, have no more time to be afraid. I have no more time to be a silly little kitten who jumps at his own shadow every time it moves. I have to be a cat. A tiger cat. Afraid of nothing.

Lazily I stretch. Then I raise myself up. I yawn hugely, and leap to the floor. I walk over to my bowl and begin drinking my milk. This is my new home. I am going to be very happy here.

* * * 

Related: The Hermit, a poem by Charlene Groves.

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