Those who know me best are well-acquainted with my love for all things monochromatic. What little home decoration I do, is typically only in shades of black, white, or gray. Metal accents are silver, pewter, or (ohyesplease) wrought iron. I don’t know what started this fixation, but i do know that it extends back to high school.
I’ve had my off moments, times when I flirted with an adoration for all things pink, but, for the most part, the latter part of my all too brief time on this planet has been saturated in uncolor. Even my cat is black. Say hello to Minerva … and some of my shoes. (I should likely put those away.)
Minerva is a rather interesting feline. She is the first and last pet I will ever own, but she’s certainly been an adventure. When people say cats have nine lives, one seldom sees it as being a literal statement. Minerva personifies (kittyonifies?) the cliché. To begin with, she is a rescue cat. I obtained her at an establishment called, of all things “Recycled Pets.” It was next to a local restaurant, and while I was waiting for a to go order, I popped over to visit the animals. My kids were visiting their father that weekend, and I had a vague idea of getting them a kitten at some point.
I didn’t end up with a kitten. I ended up with Minerva.
She was of indeterminate age, and had been at the rescue center for 6 months. They estimated she was somewhere between one and two years old. She’d had all her shots, and was already spayed, so that added to the appeal … no vet bills to start her off. I had looked at the kittens, of which there were plenty. Some of them were even black, which was the only color I’d even considered, of course. When I wandered over to the cages that house the grown cats, though, Minerva reached her little paw out through the bars and pressed it lightly on my cheek.
I was sold. Sucker.
So we hadn’t had her long before near tragedy struck. Amanda came home from school and opened the freezer to look for a snack. Minerva was on the counter (maintains Amanda, though I don’t see how, since one of the ways she sucks at being a cat is her inability to jump up on things any higher than the sofa … and even to do that, she needs to make several attempts) and she stood on her back paws and looked curiously up into the freezer. At that point, says Amanda, the phone rang in the living room, and she went to answer it, leaving the freezer door open. It was her friend Kelly, asking her to come over. She hung up and called me at work to ask if she could. I gave her permission. That was at four o’clock. At some point, Minerva managed to climb into the freezer (hmm) and the freezer door closed itself (double hmm.) Amanda left to go to Kelly’s.
So my workday ended. I went first to the daycare to pick up Cody, and then home. Around 6pm, my parents called from Mississippi, and I was on the phone with Daddy, when the door burst open and all Hell broke loose. Amanda, Kelly, and Kelly’s mom (my best friend, Andrea) rushed in yelling, “The cat’s in the freezer!”
“The cat’s in the freezer?” I repeated in disbelief. “The cat’s in the freezer?” echoed my father on the phone. In the background at their house, I heard my mother say, “The cat’s in the freezer?”
Amanda flung open the door and pulled out Minerva, who was huddled up in a little ball on one of the shelves. “The cat really was in the freezer,” I told my father.
“Put her in the dryer,” he suggested. “Warm her up.”
She thawed safely, but less than a year later, she flirted again with death. Somehow, although she is an indoor cat, she managed to sneak out, climb up into my car’s engine, curl up, and go to sleep. Early the next morning, I got in the car and drove five miles to the mechanic to have my brakes done, oil change, etc. When they finished the two hour job, they pulled out to do a test drive on the brakes. The engine was making a funny noise, so I stuck my head out into the bay. “It wasn’t making that noise when I got here,” I said. They popped the hood, messed around a while, and then looked over at me. “Do you have a cat?” one of them asked.
My eyes widened. It never occurred to me that it might be Minerva, but there was a dumpster behind my apartment that had a constant litter of kittens running around it. I was horrified that one of them might have become mangled in my engine. I explained that to the mechanics. “Are any of them black?” they asked.
I grabbed the phone off the desk and dialed the house. “Look for Minerva!” I said frantically, when Amanda answered the phone. Alarmed by my tone, she immediately started calling out for her and running through the house. “She’s not here, Mama,” said my daughter. I heard her starting to cry. “I think she might have been in the engine when I left,” I said.
“That thing’s still alive!” exclaimed one of the mechanics.
“Get her out, please,” I said, tears rolling down my face.
“I ain’t reaching in there … she’ll tear me up!”
“She doesn’t have any claws,” I almost wailed. I walked over to the car and watched as they disconnected the battery and lifted it out. There, scrunched as small as possible on the little piece of supporting material under the battery, was Minerva. She looked up at me with terrified eyes, her fur all matted and greasy. One of the guys scooped her up and dumped her into my arms.
She didn’t have a scratch on her. Since then, she’s been trapped in a discarded stove, stuck in the storm drain on a thankfully dry day, and a host of other precarious situations. But she’s still alive.
She’ll be making a little cameo appearance in my third book, Charity. I figure she’s earned it.