So I wandered the streets for about forty-five minutes, in a meandering criss-cross with no particular objective. I had just resolved to head home when I heard a faint jingling noise getting louder by the second. I glanced over my shoulder to see the tiny outline of a cat, practically galloping over from a couple blocks down a well lit parking lot.
I immediately knew I was in trouble. Cats are my weakness. There is absolutely no better way to distract me for a long period of time than by putting a cute cat in front of me. This situation proved no different. Against better judgement, I crouched down and waited as it ran over to me. It seemed incredibly affectionate, which suggested to me, along with the jingling, that this cat had a place to call its own. I gently reached below it's neck and looked at the name tag. It read Lucy.
Lucy was being phenomenally playful and lively for this late hour. She spent a good two or three minutes there on the dimly lit sidewalk with me, jumping at me, meowing happily, and licking the back of my hand as I'd scratch her neck or stroke her back. For those few minutes, I was maybe as happy as I'd been in months, just me and Lucy playing around at two in the morning.
After this went on a little longer, I realized I needed to say my goodbyes and get out of there. I've desperately wanted a cat my entire life, but my mother's allergies, and now the security deposit figures on my apartment, have always made that impossible. The downside of this cat brightening my life for those brief moments, I knew, would be the deep melancholy that would set in after we'd part. I wouldn't be able to shake it for a while. It always happens when I'm around a sweet cat. And this one was making like she'd known me all her life.
I gave her a quick nuzzle goodbye and rose, spinning on a heel, determined not to end up in too morose a mood. As I expected, Lucy trotted after me for a few steps before stopping. I kept going. Then, after about twenty seconds, I heard her collar ringing again and looked over to see her following me, not behind me, but walking alongside me down the sidewalk. At one point she darted into somebody's garden, so I'd figured she'd reached her home. She continued strolling alongside me through the garden, though, and then leapt out and trailed me a bit more cautiously as I walked up the steps to my apartment. Sure enough, though, when I looked down at my feet as I was digging around for my keys, there was Lucy roping around my shoes. My roommate was still up inside playing Final Fantasy, so the lights were all on. As if sensing an invite, Lucy parked herself in front of my door, occasionally crooking her head at me and meowing.
I was in agony. Maybe not complete agony. Just partial agony. But I knew what was and wasn't reasonable as far as the situation was concerned, and as much as I'd fallen for her and wanted to let her in, there's a big ethical leap between somebody's kitty following you home and you letting it come inside. That's straight up catnapping. Or at least a concerted attempt to cause cat stockholm syndrome.
I knocked on the door and my roommate opened it for me. I excitedly showed him the adorable creature staring wide eyed into our apartment from behind our screen door. "I've got a cohort," I told him, grinning.
"Oh, hey," he replied. If he was interested, he was doing a good job hiding it. And that somehow made me feel worse. I opened the screen door, and edged inside, shutting it behind me. I stared back out at Lucy for longer than I probably should have; prolonging the goodbye was just masochism at that point. I felt like I was going to cry; it was the same basic emotion that would normally cause me to flush out the old tear ducts, but I was somehow too aware of the oddness of the situation to let that impulse reign. I closed the door softly, not wanting to scare or surprise her. I think on some level I wanted her to remember my apartment fondly. As sad as I am now, it'd be terrible never to see her again.
After this was written, I heard a jingling behind my door. I went outside and played with her on my porch for another fifteen minutes or so. I can't help it. I'm a sucker for punishment when the crime is that cute.