​I’m happy to share this guest post (the first of what I hope will be many) by Judy Myers. Judy’s flash piece “Is Girl Here” (published in Quiddity) was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her story “Runaway” was a finalist for the Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction. She’s currently working on a novel set primarily in Oakland about runaways, babies, and searching for mothers. She has worked as a salesclerk, a file clerk, a baker, an editor, a car mechanic, and by accident and for the longest and most rewarding time, a teacher of writing and literature at Diablo Valley College. She has lived in and visited many places, but calls Oakland, CA her home.

The lost cat pulled us out into corners of the neighborhood we’d never visited. We’d rolled by on our bikes or waved when a gang of kids were trying to look tough on Herzog St. or nodded yes when someone wanted to pick a few lemons or grab a few of the hundreds of ripening figs, but we’d never walked Essex to its kind of creepy cul de sac end or knocked on the door of the pink house or met the woman called Sanna whose slightly paranoid posts on the neighborhood list serve castigate her dog-loving, cat-hating next door neighbors, the mister of the family, according to Sanna, a cock of the walk who sets out cat traps to snag any cat he sees walking on his precious and bulbous black pick-up truck.

Countless neighbors unlocked garages and sheds, opened the doors of musty basements, pointed out fences with holes and broken down ruins where raccoons congregate.  Other neighbors dismissed us once and even some, twice, when we tried to insist they open a locked garage.  When they saw the cat’s picture, more than a few had evidently been feeding our little sprite: “Oh, yeah. I know that kitty. She comes and gets snacks from me in the morning,” and “I give that Missy cat dinner every night; she comes here on the back porch and waits for me to give it to her,” interesting revelations given that she eats heartily at home as well.

Our bee-keeping neighbor, himself a bit of a wild card when it comes to consistency, but about as nice as they come, said, “I love her.  She comes right into the yard when I’m working and sits and watches me. I’ve tried everything to get her to come close to me and let me pet her, but no matter what I do, she won’t. She dances around me and then away.”

It’s been more than two days now. I go out at night to call her, to discover which door she is locked behind. Our other two cats follow me up and down the block and around the corners.  They sit still as I call her.  They watch blankly into the night.  I listen for her mews; they will be soft—she does not make noise. In the school of hard knocks where we found her, quiet was her watchword, avoiding the mitts of interested humans a guiding principle. She will have to strain to make herself heard.

Photo: Bing Han 

This post originally appeared at RealEstateTherapy.org.