"The Thanksgiving Kitten" by Geoffrey Philp

Maybe it was the dead calico in front of Desiree's house that finally did it. Or maybe it was the heaviness on her chest since she began taking a new medication. Or was it the bodily pains from fibromyalgia, which had forced her early retirement from teaching kindergarten?

"No more kiddies to save, mother," said Janice, her daughter, before she left for Seattle. Desiree had waited by the phone all day, but Janice hadn't called even though she'd promised to phone every Thanksgiving.

Now only an empty plate from Desiree’s Thanksgiving tuna lay on the counter beside a red vial from her many visits to Aventura's ER.

"Find the thing you love," said the young resident as he carelessly scribbled another prescription for OxyContin.

How Desiree had even gotten out of the bed that she'd shared with her husband until one slap ended their marriage was still a miracle.

Awakened by meowing in her garden, Desiree looked out the window. Nothing.

She couldn’t go back to sleep. Desiree put on her bathrobe and went to the kitchen for her morning routine when she saw the cap of the vial lying on the counter. Desiree had forgotten that she'd taken off the cap.

Opening the cupboard, Desiree took down a glass, opened the fridge, and found a carton of milk hiding behind a bottle of vodka. As she filled the glass with milk, Desiree heard the meowing again.

This time it was louder.

Desiree put the carton back in the fridge, but left the half-filled glass on the counter. Tightening the belt around her waist, Desiree went outside, and looked around the yard. Still nothing.

Desiree was about to go back inside when she heard a shriek. She walked around the side of the house: a ginger tail was stuck in the rainspout.

Desiree bent down and eased her fingers into the sides of the rainspout. The ginger tail hissed. She gently coaxed the tail, hind legs, forepaws, and head into the sunlight.

The kitten licked her hand.

Bundling the kitten into her arms, Desiree went back into her kitchen and poured the milk from her glass into a bowl. Sticking out its pink tongue, the kitten lapped noisily.

Desiree covered the vial. For now, the pills could wait.

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