By Chris Garson
Copyright 2014 Chris Garson
For the first time in his ten years, Sam Spencer held a cat. He managed it rather awkwardly. One hand clutched the scruff of its mangy, white neck. The other scooped its rear legs, which were clawing at the air like a falling rock climber. He could feel its terrified heart beating. The poor thing’s eyes glanced about wildly, looking for escape into the bushes of Anna Parker’s back yard.
“Not like that, Sam. Here, let me show you.” Anna, Sam’s seven year old neighbor, took the cat from him in an easy hand-off. Sam was on the small side. Anna was large for her age and a little chubby due to her having to stay inside an awful lot.
The cat purred contently in her comforting arms. A lazy paw reached up to play with the yellow ribbon streaming from her sable hair. Smatterings of white fur from earlier cuddling covered her flowery pink dress. “See. Dander likes being held. You just have to do it the right way.”
“Can I try again,” Though older than Anna, she knew more about cats. The only pet Sam ever owned was the goldfish he won at the school fair, which didn’t count since you couldn’t do much with goldfish. You could watch them swim, or watch them eat, or watch them poop, but you for sure couldn’t cuddle with them.
“Sure … ah, ah, atchoo.” She wiped her nose on the sleeve of the white shirt she wore under her dress, slightly squishing Dander in the process. The cat meowed.
Sam took Dander from Anna. This time, he held her the way Anna showed him. The cat stopped squirming. Sam bent down to nuzzle Dander with his nose. The cat sneaked a lick, making him squeal with laughter. “Haha. Her tongue is scratchy.”
“She’s a he, silly.” Anna brushed off some of the white fur clinging to her dress.
Sam studied the area between Dander’s legs where the fur was thinner. He could see pink skin underneath but no distinguishing anatomy. “How can you tell?”
Anna shrugged. “I don’t know. My mom said Dander’s a … ah … atchoo, … a boy.” She wiped her nose again. Stains from many sneezes covered her sleeve.