Fang

Fang

Guess I’d been pretty lucky to land what looked like a fairly decent job straight from Uni. I’d graduated from Nottingham in the summer with a BSc in Accountancy and managed to find a job with a firm of Accountants in a small town in the Midlands. I knew quite a few of my contemporaries hadn’t been so lucky and were either still looking for work or had resorted to taking on something they didn’t really want to do. Perhaps the fact that I’d managed a decent degree had helped – maybe in the end, all those extra hours spent studying rather than joining in the social whirl had really been worthwhile.

As I hadn’t been living at home for the four years of the course, I wasn’t going to find living elsewhere that much different in some respects. I was also very lucky in that my godfather had died a couple of years ago, and he’d left me quite a substantial sum in his will. So with that, plus a bit of parental assistance, I was able to make a deposit on a flat in a recently built small block. It was located quite close to the centre of the town and also to the offices where I’d be working. It also had two bedrooms, which seemed a bit of an extravagance for just me, but I figured if I had two, then my parents could come and stay weekends. Also, it gave a bed for any of my ex-university friends who might want to come and visit – although they’d probably be quite happy to bring a sleeping bag and spend the night on the floor. After all, it was carpeted, which was more than could be said for some of the digs we’d all spent nights in over the last four years!

I felt I’d made the adjustment from uni to work reasonably well, although the lack of freedom did irk at first. My new colleagues seemed friendly enough and I thought it was a nice welcoming gesture when a couple of days after I started work my manager presented me with a mug that had my name ‘Amanda’ written on it. I had noticed on my first day there that everyone appeared to have their own, so this did make me feel one of the team. However, there were no other girls of my age or level; the only others were either younger doing the more menial work, or older and usually married and working part time. Consequently the one thing I did quickly miss was the friends I had made during those four years.

I wasn’t one for team sports, so I was unlikely to make friends in that way. I did, though, play tennis and badminton, but, of course, the tennis season was virtually over by the time I’d started work. However, joining a local badminton club was one thing I soon did. I also joined a local amateur dramatics group, so those two took care of a couple of evenings each week. Most evenings, though, I’d return to my flat and cook a meal before settling down with a decent book and some music – or maybe chatting on the Internet to some of those I’d been with at uni and comparing notes on how life was treating us.

Even though this was 2015, I didn’t feel like walking into a pub on my own. Eating out was also something I didn’t really fancy doing on my own, besides which, what with the mortgage and the cost of running my little Clio, I didn’t have a lot of money for such extravagances.

A couple of months had elapsed before I took the decision to join a local Health Club. I wasn’t a fitness fanatic but knew that I ought to be taking more physical exercise – a point brought home when I started to struggle to easily get on a couple of my skirts. I’m a size 12 and about 5 foot 8 inches tall, by the way, so I’m not overweight – but nor did I want to start putting on the pounds. The Club I decided to join was part of a national set up, so I knew the equipment and staff would be of good quality; the only slight drawback was that it was located on the outskirts of town. That meant I had to drive there, but that wasn’t really a problem. They had a wide variety of fitness equipment, and there were classes for step aerobics and Zumba, for example, so it all sounded pretty good. Not only did it sound good, but it also looked good, as I saw when I took up the chance for a free session before I decided to become a member.

Christmas came and went. I spent that with my parents and returned a little down after spending time with them and various friends back in the village where they lived. But I told myself that the days were going to start getting longer and before long spring would arrive. So I settled back into my routine.

It was probably towards the end of January when I went to the Health Club one evening and had to park in a different place to my usual spot. The car park was unusually crowded, and I found out on entering that there was an event of some sort taking place in the main hall, which I hadn’t known about. Had I done so, I almost certainly would have given it a miss that night, as it meant my usual step aerobics class had been cancelled. But having made the effort to go there, I decided I might as well stay, use some of the equipment and then have a quick swim, which is what I did.

As I was walking back to my car, I spotted a movement, which I quickly recognised as being a small cat. The light wasn’t that good, but it appeared to be ginger and white in colour. I stood still to see where it was going, and as I watched, it disappeared under a portakabin close to where my car was parked. Because the Club was on the edge of town, there weren’t any houses in the immediate vicinity, so I wondered where the cat might have come from; I was pretty certain it wasn’t anything to do with the Club.

I’d had a cat while I was growing up. ‘Susie’ had been a very friendly tabby and white female who loved being made a fuss of and slept on my bed whenever she could sneak into my bedroom – which was often, since I always left the door open for her. Sadly, old age and failing kidneys had taken her just after I’d gone to uni, and my parents hadn’t taken steps to replace her. Indeed, my father was really a dog person, and from what he’d said over the Christmas period, I gathered that a Labrador puppy could soon be arriving.

Getting a cat of my own hadn’t entered my thinking. I seemed to recall when purchasing the flat, it had been mentioned that pets were allowed; but as far as I was concerned, a cat shouldn’t be kept permanently indoors. And as my flat was on the second floor, letting one go out and in was a virtual impossibility. I did, though, wonder and worry a little about this one, since it seemed to me that it might have been abandoned. So, soft fool that I was, after work the next day, I nipped into the supermarket and bought some cat biscuits and a couple of little feeding bowls, figuring that if I was going to offer it some food, biscuits would fare better than canned food; and if I was offering it biscuits, then I should also provide some water. Of course, it was always possible that I might never see it again!

But that night, although it wasn’t one that I would normally have gone to the Club, I found myself driving there after eating my evening meal. I parked in the same spot as I had the previous day and just sat in my car and waited. It seemed a long wait, but the radio helped pass the time, and eventually I spotted the cat. Once again, it was heading toward the portakabin, so I waited until I couldn’t see it, and then got out of the car armed with the bowls, biscuits and a bottle of water. I walked over to the portakabin and knelt down. I could see where the cat had got underneath, but of it, there was no sign. If I’d had any sense, I would have brought a torch, but that would have to be for another day. As it was, I set down the bowls just under the front edge of the cabin, filled one with biscuits and the other with water, and then returned to my car. I sat there for about fifteen minutes but didn’t see any sign of the cat so returned home.

The following night I repeated the process, but got out of my car on arrival to check if the biscuits had been eaten. They had, and the water bowl was also depleted, so I replenished both. I’d also brought a torch, which I shone underneath the cabin, but couldn’t see a cat. Having put down the food, I went back to the car and settled down to wait. After about half an hour, I saw the cat walking towards the cabin, and this time I got a better look at it in the light provided by another car’s headlights. It was indeed ginger and white and quite small, which I deduced meant it was young, and probably, but not necessarily, male. Considering it was apparently living rough, it looked to be in reasonably good condition.

Of course, I’d now got myself hooked. Having seen the cat and realised that it was apparently living rough, I couldn’t simply turn my back on it, not having started feeding it. This definitely hadn’t been in my plans when I’d signed up for the Health Club! But now I was committed, and thus every night saw me driving up there in order to provide food and water for the cat. It wasn’t long before it either realised what time I came or learned the sound of my car, as it would either appear from under the cabin as I arrived, or sometimes would be sitting at the edge of the nearby bushes, apparently waiting for my arrival. If it was sat there, then it would come towards the car as I stopped and got out. Fairly soon after that, if it was sitting waiting, then it would trot alongside me as I walked to the cabin with the food and water.

It was during this period that I got to know two things. The first was that ‘it’ was a male, which I could tell the first time I saw it take a pee. That, at least, removed one worry – it couldn’t either already be, or get, pregnant. The idea of it having kittens had been a scary thought that I’d tried to push as far as possible to the back of my mind. The second was that, as the evenings got lighter, I could see that one of the long canine teeth was clearly visible outside his lower jaw. That was the moment at which he became ‘Fang’!

I was rather worried about people seeing me feeding him, but over the weeks nobody seemed to object, and, indeed, some females laughed and commented at the sight of him trotting alongside me. On a couple of occasions, he wasn’t around when I arrived, and naturally I worried something had happened to him. However, each time, after I’d been there for a few minutes, he’d come trotting across from another part of the car park. Luckily, he did seem to be quite traffic wise, although generally cars only moved slowly there. As time progressed, he started to allow me to touch him. The first time was always going to be the big worry, as a cat bite can be a very nasty thing, but although he hissed and drew back, there was nothing more violent. Quite soon, he was starting to purr as I stroked him.

I was still puzzled as to how he’d got there. It didn’t seem that he was feral, but although I checked with the two vet practices in town, nobody had reported a cat of that description missing. One of them did say that if I brought him in, they could check to see if he was microchipped, but I didn’t consider that a practical possibility. Stroking him was one thing; picking him up and putting him in a carrier would, I was sure, be a vastly different proposition. One thing I didn’t do was mention him to any of the staff at the Club. If they weren’t aware of his existence, that was probably a good thing, as I thought it feasible they might object to him living under that cabin.

However, one day I did happen to overhear a conversation between two of the staff in which the cabin was mentioned, and I thought something was said about it ‘going’. I knew one of the two girls, as she took one of my classes, so when I got a chance later that evening, I managed to ask, hopefully in a casual way, what the cabin was used for. She told me it had been used as a sort of office when the club opened, but was now used for storage of odd bits and pieces. However, they were extending the main building at the rear, and when that was complete, the cabin would be removed. On asking when that was likely to be, I got the answer ‘in a couple of months at most’.

Now I really did have a problem. When the time came for the cabin to be removed, ‘Fang’ would be scared half to death at the least and would probably run off never to be seen again. I didn’t want that to happen, as by now I was regarding him virtually as ‘my’ cat.

However, I didn’t consider it would be realistic to think of taking him into my flat, as he seemed quite content living outside and might well object to being confined. On checking, I found that the best known national cat rehoming charity didn’t have a branch locally, and I’d heard bad stories about what could happen to cats at some of the others. There was no way I wanted to hand ‘Fang’ over to be re-homed and then have him put to sleep. It turned out, though, that there was a small charity operating in the town, which said it re-homed cats and other small pets. I called them and asked if I could come round, pretending that I was interested in adopting myself. While that was very far from the truth, I considered it was the only way in which I could get in to see its facilities and how it operated. I did run the risk that I might get an adverse reaction when the true reason for my visit became known.

I was invited round the following weekend and found it was indeed a fairly small operation with about ten pens for cats. It was basically being run by one middle aged lady in her own back garden with some assistance from volunteers – mainly young and predominantly female. No surprise there then! I had a look round and was pretty impressed with what I saw. The cats all appeared to be in good condition and had plenty of food and water on hand. Some were being groomed or played with by the younger volunteers. I decided there and then that whatever happened about ‘Fang’, I would make a point of coming round on Sunday mornings in future and helping out for a couple of hours. Naturally I didn’t mention that then, as I didn’t want it to seem as if I was trying to make a deal along the lines of, ‘You take this cat in for me and I’ll come and help you’. No, that wasn’t how I was made.

After I’d spent some time looking round, the lady, whose name turned out to be Janet, asked me if I fancied a cup of tea or coffee. I agreed, as that seemed to give an opportunity for me to raise the subject of ‘Fang’. So we went into her kitchen, she boiled the kettle, and after washing our hands, we sat down at the kitchen table with coffee and bourbon biscuits. She told me a little of how she had come to set up her little animal rescue operation, dealing mainly with cats, which was her real interest, but also rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and other small animals. She did mention rats, but I pretended not to hear when she said that word!

After that, I decided it was time to put my cards on the table and explain what had really brought me there today. She listened while I told her how I had come to find ‘Fang’ and how our relationship had developed, plus the upcoming problem. Janet commented that she thought I had done well to establish a relationship with ‘Fang’ and she also considered he must have been a domestic kitten at some point, who perhaps had wandered off – especially likely if he was male and uncastrated, which I confirmed to be the case – or maybe his owners had moved away and left him behind.

When I’d finished explaining, Janet sat thinking for a couple of minutes before saying anything. She started by pointing out the obvious, namely that she had a small number of pens and thus would only take in cats which she considered had a good chance of being adopted. In other words, they basically had to be young and friendly and without any physical problems. She added that because of this, she had all incoming cats tested to see if they had either FeLV or FIV. She could tell by my blank expression when she said those two acronyms that neither meant anything to me, so she went on to explain. FeLV is feline leukaemia, which is both fatal to cats and easily transmitted from one to another by means of sexual activity, bites or saliva. FIV is the equivalent of Aids, and while it isn’t fatal, it is transmissible quite easily between cats. Her policy thus was that any cat found to have FeLV was euthanaised. A cat found to have FIV would be put up for adoption, but, of course, couldn’t go to a home with any other cats and would also be re-homed only on a promise from the adopter that the cat would be kept permanently indoors. Janet added that such homes were hard to find, so she would only keep a cat with FIV for two to three months before deciding the time had come for it to be put to sleep. I could understand her logic for both diseases and for the rest of the way in which she operated; if she had a pen that was taken up by a cat that nobody wanted, that meant she was unable to take in another cat. And, as she pointed out, there were nearly always cats waiting to come in.

She did agree, though, that she would be willing to give ‘Fang’ a chance – provided that a pen was available. That, I could see, might present a problem, as there was no guarantee one would be free when the cabin was demolished. We thus agreed that the best way forward might be for her to contact me in a few weeks when a space was free and for ‘Fang’ to be taken in then.

Janet also suggested that in the meantime I should try doing some things that might make catching him a little easier when the need arose. She gave me a cat carrier, which I saw opened at the top rather than the end, explaining that it was usually easier to pick up a cat and lower it into a basket than to try and push it from the rear – especially if it wasn’t that used to being handled. Janet’s suggestion was that I should take the carrier with me from now on and let ‘Fang’ see it. At first, he would doubtless be very wary of it, but when he’d convinced himself it wasn’t a danger, he’d not take much notice of it. Of course, I couldn’t leave it there – it was a matter of ‘showing and going’ really. The other suggestion was that as he was happy for me to stroke him, I should start trying to pick him up. She felt sure he wouldn’t be that keen about it at first, so the idea was initially just to lift him a couple of inches and then put him straight back on the ground. However, as time passed, hopefully I’d be able to pick him up further and for longer. There was one other possibility she mentioned, which was to use a trap, but we both felt that shouldn’t be necessary if he appeared to be reasonably accepting of both the sight of the carrier and me lifting him up.

So, I departed from Janet’s with a cat carrier and a plan – of sorts. I knew a lot would depend on how ‘Fang’ behaved over the next few weeks, but I was determined to give him a chance of a decent life in a new home.

As I got out of the car that evening, ‘Fang’ came towards me as usual, but when I went to the boot and then appeared from behind the car with the carrier in one hand, he took one look and dashed back under the cabin. I put it on the ground, not too close to the cabin, and then went over, knelt down and talked to him. He soon emerged, but looked very suspiciously at this new object. By the time we got to the end of the week, though, he wasn’t taking too much notice of it, so on the Friday I decided to try lifting him up. He wasn’t enthused when I put my hands underneath him instead of on his back, and I could hear him hissing, but I just lifted him up a couple of inches and then set him back down again. Once he was back on the ground, he turned and head butted my hand, wanting me to tickle his head, which I duly did.

On Sunday morning I was back at Janet’s as promised, dressed in an old pair of jeans and a sweat shirt, and volunteering my services. I noticed there was another girl there already, whom I heard Janet address as Kelly. She looked to be about eighteen or nineteen, very slim – almost skinny – wearing a pair of jeans that fitted her so tightly I was surprised she could bend over to reach the litter trays on the ground. She had blond hair, cut fairly close, and seemed to be without make-up, although to be honest I hadn’t bothered to put any on myself. My own hair was brunette, and because I have a rather long and thin face, I had grown it quite long and straight with a centre parting so it fell down each side to about chin level. I did notice that she seemed to be a hard worker, unlike some of the younger girls, who usually appeared to be only interested in either playing with, or making a fuss of, the cats. With the pair of us working, it only took an hour or so before everything was done, at which point Janet invited us in for a cup of tea. I had that, but Kelly had brought her own tin of coke.

During our conversation, while we drank and ate a few biscuits, I found out where Kelly lived, which turned out to be not that far from my flat but almost a mile from Janet’s house. When we’d finished and were leaving the house, I asked her where she’d parked her car. She gave me a little smile and answered that she didn’t have one, but had walked there and was about to walk back. I immediately offered her a lift, which after a bit of thinking she accepted. When we arrived at her home, which was on one of the council estates but looked as if it was well cared for based on the garden and general appearance, we sat in the car for a few minutes and talked. I found out that she was indeed nineteen, worked in one of the supermarkets in town on the tills and had two younger brothers. Although she didn’t say, I had the feeling that her father favoured the boys over her and that she was more oriented to her mother. She did say that one of the reasons she helped at the centre was because she loved cats, but her father would never let her have one, saying that he was allergic. I do know that some people can be allergic to cats, sometimes only to some types, but I didn’t want to push the matter on such short acquaintance. Kelly also said that she was hoping to move out soon and find herself a bed-sit, but she knew that would be hard, being only on a minimum wage job.

As she was getting out of the car, I asked her is she’d like me to pick her up next Sunday, but she smiled and said that it would probably be best if I didn’t. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, but didn’t pursue the issue.

During that week, things with ‘Fang’ progressed quite well. He no longer appeared to be at all bothered by the presence of the carrier and even got to the stage of rubbing round it so that it acquired his scent. We’d also got to the point where he wasn’t objecting to being lifted up, and I was able to raise him a couple of feet off the ground with no problems, which I reckoned should be sufficient to get him above carrier height.

Thus, the following Sunday, I was able to report good progress to Janet and was also pleased to see Kelly there again. Since moving to the town, I hadn’t made any real friends, although there were some that I would class as acquaintances. However, there seemed something about Kelly that appealed to me, which was in some ways a worry. I knew I was gay; I always preferred to refer to myself as gay rather than lesbian, as I had quickly learnt that some people seemed to be more exercised by that word. I’d known that I was gay in my early teens and had ‘come out’ to my parents while I was at uni. By their reaction, I think they had suspected it, and they were supportive. I had rather dreaded telling them and had delayed doing so, but it became necessary when one of the couple of relationships I had while at Uni became rather intense and I wanted to bring my partner home during the vacation.

Those relationships, though, had been with girls who were either the same age as me or slightly older. I’d never had a relationship with anyone younger than me and Kelly was three years younger. Of course, I had no idea whether or not she was gay, and it wasn’t a question I wanted to ask. I also felt that any move would have to come from her because she was little more than a child. However, that Sunday was warm, and before we finished our work, Kelly had taken off her anorak and was working in just a tight fitting t-shirt. She was indeed slim, but she looked to have a good pair of breasts based on the way the relevant part of the t-shirt was filled and with the nipples clearly distinguishable. I have to admit to having more than a couple of glances and feeling a stirring that I hadn’t had for some months.

When we’d finished our cleaning, I again offered her a lift home, which she accepted. During the short trip, I did ask if she currently had a boyfriend and was told that she didn’t. She asked me the same question and received a similar answer, although I didn’t elaborate.

My efforts with ‘Fang’ continued to make good progress, which was just as well, because after another couple of weeks, I found out that the portakabin was due to be removed in a further fortnight. I called Janet as soon as I found out, and she promised me that ‘Fang’ would have the next available pen – but she had no cats due to go out in the next few days. Thus, I was forced to virtually start biting my fingernails and hoping as the days passed. However, on the Friday of the penultimate week, I had the call from Janet for which I was by now almost praying. We agreed that I would try to catch him on the Sunday evening, as the Club was usually quieter then than on a Saturday.

I went to the Club that evening, trying not to let my worries show. While if I didn’t succeed tonight, I would still have a few days left, it also seemed likely to me that if ‘Fang’ got frightened by my attempt to put him in the carrier, it would be much more difficult to achieve success on a second try. He duly appeared, and I fed him, and then came the moment. The carrier was open; I lifted him up, positioned him over the carrier and then lowered him. Immediately, I could feel him stiffening, his claws were extended and a low hiss could be heard. I lowered him quickly, but he started to struggle, and as I pulled one hand away to close the lid, I got a little bite and a not so little scratch. However, I managed to close and secure the lid and ‘Fang’ was off to his new temporary home.

When I arrived at Janet’s, we immediately put him into his new pen, where he very quickly found the inner house that contained a bed and was also safe from the outside world. We decided it would be best to leave him on his own, but Janet suggested it would be a good idea if I came round on the following evening, as she thought seeing me would help him settle.

We then went indoors, where she had me complete what she termed a ‘handover form’. Basically, it gave brief details of the cat and said where he had been found and for how long he had been there. She also said that she would keep him for at least a week before he was taken to the vets for the requisite tests. When he was at the vets, he could also be checked to see if he had an identity microchip implanted under his skin. She pointed out that she considered this to be a sensible precaution for her, as, if she took in a cat that was not truly lost, it gave the owners time to try and find it before she took any action that might lead to it being put to sleep.

I spent a fairly restless night on Sunday wondering how ‘Fang’ had settled and went round to Janet’s as quickly as I could after work. Apparently, he hadn’t been seen during the day, nor had he apparently eaten anything, but Janet said that wasn’t too unusual for a newly arrived cat. When, though, I went down to his pen, he emerged from his little house and came towards me, giving a little purr. He seemed quite happy to see me, and I was able to persuade him to eat. When I sat on the floor to stroke him, he even climbed onto my lap, which was a new development, but as soon as Janet appeared, he got off and backed away.

I did go round a couple more times during the week, and it seemed that ‘Fang’ was settling in alright. When I went on Sunday, I thought I’d try a little experiment and asked Kelly to come into the pen with me. Initially, ‘Fang’ backed off and hid, but with me talking to him, he emerged after a couple of minutes and permitted both of us to pet him for a while.

On Wednesday evening of the following week, my phone rang at the flat and I picked it up to hear Janet’s voice:

“I took ‘Fang’ down to the vet today to have his tests and be checked over.”

“How did it go?” I asked, trying to sound confident.

“Well, there is good news and bad news,” Janet replied.

My heart sank and I could hardly bear to ask,

“Meaning?”

“The first bit of good news is that he isn’t microchipped, so he, indeed, has no evident owner. The second bit is that he hasn’t got FeLV, but, unfortunately, he has got FIV.”

The bottom almost dropped out of my world. It wasn’t the worst news and it wasn’t a death sentence for him, but it did mean that he might not have long to live.

“Oh dear, that’s not too good,” was the best I could muster in response.

“No, it isn’t. As you know, he hasn’t been castrated, but I didn’t see much point in having that done until we find a home for him, as, if we can’t find one, it would just be a waste of money.”

“I understand. So how long has he got?”

“Provided he comes out of his shell and begins to sell himself to prospective owners, I’d be happy to keep him for up to three months, I suppose. He is young and good looking, but people do want friendly cats, and that is especially so if they are going to be indoor ones.”

What could I say in response? What Janet had said made perfect sense. After I’d put the phone down, I tried to reassure myself that I’d done the right thing to catch him and take him to Janet. If I hadn’t, he’d have had no home left now, and with having FIV, he would possibly deteriorate and could also affect other cats. It had been the right decision I knew, but right now it didn’t seem that way.

I continued to go round to Janet’s on a couple of evenings during the week, giving up some of my classes at the Club, as well as on Sunday. ‘Fang’ did appear to be settling in there reasonably well, but it was noticeable that he was much friendlier to me than to anyone else. He was now alright with Kelly, who could fuss and groom him, but if anyone else appeared, he would vanish before slowly emerging after a few minutes.

Time passed, and one Sunday morning while Kelly and I were sitting round Janet’s kitchen table after finishing the cleaning, Janet pointed out that it was now two months since he’d come in, but nobody had shown any real interest in taking him. It felt now that he was on death row and the clock was ticking…..

As usual, I gave Kelly a lift home. When I stopped outside her house, she turned to me and said with a little smile,

“So, when are you going to adopt him?”

Honestly, until she said that, the thought hadn’t really entered my mind.

“Me?” I stuttered.

“Yes, you. He loves you and you love him. You live in a flat, so he can’t get out. It would be the ideal arrangement.”

“But… he might not like being shut in.”

“Don’t be stupid, Amanda. He’s got to become an indoor cat wherever he goes.”

Sometimes a university education can’t prevent you looking dumb!

We sat there in silence for a couple of minutes.

“Kelly, you’re right you know. I’ve got to give him a chance, haven’t I?”

“Yes, you have.” She had already undone her seat belt, and now leant towards me, before placing a little kiss on my cheek. “That’s from ‘Fang’,” she said and laughed as she opened the car door.

I was too stunned to say anything in reply, but I placed my fingers on my cheek where her kiss had landed. Having shut the car door, she turned, smiled and blew me another kiss.

“Is that one from you?” I found myself saying, but she had turned away to walk toward her front door and didn’t hear.

I drove home in a bit of a daze. When I got indoors, I had my usual shower after cleaning at the centre and got myself something to eat. I sat down in the armchair to eat it and started doing some serious thinking. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion that what Kelly had said was both sensible and right. Once I’d finished eating, I called Janet to tell her what I’d decided. We agreed that she would arrange to have ‘Fang’ castrated as soon as possible in the coming week, and provided all went well with that, then I would collect him on the Friday evening so he would have me at home for the weekend to, hopefully, help him settle into his new abode.

And that was what happened. When I got him home of the Friday evening, he didn’t seem unduly concerned about his new surroundings but explored cautiously. I’d brought his bed from Janet’s so he’d have something familiar, and he quickly settled down, spending the evening mainly there but also on my lap, which I thought was very encouraging. Next day he spent some time sitting on the window ledge looking out, and I realised that I could have problems if the weather was very hot with being unable to open windows. Hopefully, that problem wouldn’t arise too often.

On the Sunday morning, I decided to leave him in the flat and go round to Janet’s as usual. Kelly saw me as I walked down the garden and came over to me, saying,

“I see he’s gone, so I guess you’ve adopted him. How has he settled in?”

I couldn’t resist doing it, but pulled her into a hug.

“Thanks, Kelly. You told me what I needed to hear, and I’m very grateful. He seems to have settled in alright. He’s not clawing the furniture or carpets and he isn’t demanding to go out – and he’s used his litter trays - for both - which I was a bit worried about.”

She laughed and pulled back slightly from the embrace.

“Yeah, well, sometimes it takes someone else to tell you what is so obvious you can’t see for yourself.”

On a sudden impulse, I said to her,

“How about when I take you home this morning, you change and we go out somewhere and I buy you lunch as a ‘thank you’? Then we can go back to my flat after, and you can see ‘Fang’.”

She gave me a slightly strange look before bursting out laughing.

“So I’m going to get changed to go out, but you’re going in your old dirty clothes. Some invite this is!”

Now it was my turn to blush.

“I’ve got my Sunday brain in again,” I responded with a little laugh. “Okay, we’ll go to my place first, if you like.”

“I reckon it would be best if you dropped me off first so I can change, while you go home and do the same. Come back and pick me up, we’ll go and have a meal and then I’ll come back after to see ‘Fang’. How does that sound?”

“Good thinking, batperson.”

She chuckled, before saying, “Let’s get on with the work then, you old bat.”

What could I do but laugh – it was a great response and one I’d have been proud of myself. However, as she turned away to walk back to the pen she had been cleaning when I arrived, I did seize the opportunity to land a slap on her bum. She simply waggled it at me and then carried on walking, but I could hear her chuckling as she did.

We got the work done in record time, I reckon, even though the pen ‘Fang’ had been living in was already occupied by another cat. I gathered Janet had given it a very thorough clean down on the Saturday and destroyed anything he had been using, such as toys and scratching post on the basis that it was better to be safe than sorry when putting a new cat in there.

When I got back to pick up Kelly, she had changed into what looked like a new pair of tight filling blue jeans, along with a new pair of branded trainers and a sweat shirt that had a depiction of a monkey on the front. I’d dressed slightly more formally with black trousers, ankle boots and a t-shirt, over which I was wearing a pale blue hoodie. I asked her if she wanted to go anywhere specific, but she said she was happy to leave the choice to me, as no doubt I ate out more than she did. I decided to go to a little bistro type place in the town centre that I’d been to before. The food was reasonable, not that expensive, and most importantly, it was popular with the young crowd.

We had a pleasant enough lunch. Kelly had a pizza with some salad, and I had a lasagne, also with salad. I risked a small glass of wine, but she stuck with soft drinks. We spent most of the time getting to know a bit more about each other and our early life. I had come from a much more privileged background, for which I always felt grateful, whereas her life had been rather harder. Her father had at one time been in the army, and they had moved around quite a lot during those years. I also got the impression that he, probably as a result of his time there, was somewhat of a disciplinarian and rather expected almost instant obedience from his children to anything he said. I gathered another difficulty was due to her not being interested in sport, and because her father was, and her brothers shared that interest, she was almost a bit of an outsider.

After the meal, which I insisted on paying for, although Kelly offered to pay for herself, we went back to the flat. ‘Fang’ was initially alarmed when he saw her, but recognised her voice when she spoke to him and soon came out of hiding to be petted. He started showing quite an interest in one of the pockets of her jeans until with a laugh she produced from it a catnip mouse, which kept him occupied for a good while, chasing it around and tossing it in the air. I asked how she’d got it, and she told me that she’d ‘borrowed’ it from Janet’s stock after I’d suggested coming here and would replace it next weekend. I felt it was a great thought and showed what a nice natured and pleasant girl she was. She stayed for about an hour, while we talked some more and listened to some music – on which our tastes, slightly surprisingly, weren’t that far apart, before I drove her home.

From then on, life rather settled into a pattern, as I suppose it does with most people. I did, though, start taking Kelly out for lunch on alternate Sundays; sometimes in town, but sometimes I’d drive out of town to a pub. Virtually always afterwards, we’d come back to the flat and spend some time with ‘Fang’. He had adjusted very well to being an indoor cat and showed no sign of frustration at being confined or on his own all day, but then, while he’d been living under the portacabin, he’d been on his own for at least 23 out of every 24 hours. He did, though, seem to enjoy Kelly’s visits.

One Sunday, I mentioned that it would be my birthday on the following Thursday. I thus wasn’t too surprised to receive a card from Kelly, but I was very surprised when my doorbell rang that evening, and on opening the front door, she was standing there with a small package in her hand. I invited her in, and after we’d sat down, I opened it to find a bottle of my favourite perfume. I know I have expensive tastes in perfume, and thus had cost her a lot. I was both shocked and very grateful and got up from my chair and went over to give her a kiss. It ended up being somewhat more than a mere ‘thank you’ kiss and when we drew apart I felt those familiar tingles coursing through my body again. To calm things down, I offered her a glass of wine, which she accepted, and that seemed to break the spell as we resumed our separate seats.

A couple of Sundays afterwards, when I got to Janet’s, she drew me aside before I could go down to the pens and ushered me into the kitchen. After closing the door, she turned to me and said,

“Amanda, I’m sure there is something wrong with Kelly today. She looks like she’s hardly slept or she’s been crying or maybe both, but she won’t say anything to me. I know the pair of you are friendly. Do you know what the problem is?”

I was surprised to hear what Janet had said. In all the time I’d known her, admittedly only a few months, Kelly had always seemed fairly cheerful and happy. In reply, I could only say,

“I haven’t a clue, Janet. I’ve not seen her since last Sunday, so really I’m no wiser than you. But I’ll go down and see if she’ll talk to me.”

Fortunately, there were only a couple of young girls around that morning and they were working in a pen some distance from where Kelly was. She heard me coming, glanced at me and then looked away. From even that quick glance, though, I could tell something was wrong; as Janet had said, she looked a mess. I walked into the pen where she was and she stood up and half turned to face me.

“What’s up, Kelly? You look like you’ve been crying.”

She turned full face towards me, and I could see a couple of bruises on the side of her face that had been hidden, one on her cheek and the other amounting to virtually a black eye.

“Crikey, what happened to you? Been attacked by some yobs?”

She shook her head and grimaced on doing so.

“Not yobs,” she said. “Don’t want to talk about it.”

“Come off it, we’re friends, surely. Come back to my place after we’re done here and tell me about it then.”

She hesitated, before reluctantly agreeing. We got on with the work, and in less than two hours were back at my flat. After spending time with ‘Fang’, we then settled down, both with mugs of tea and a plate of biscuits. I sensed that I was going to have to extract the story from Kelly rather than her just tell me. However, when she suddenly burst into tears, I was somewhat taken aback, as she didn’t seem that type of girl. I went over and sat on the arm of the chair she was sitting in and put my arm round her shoulder. She didn’t pull away but almost nestled into me, and after a few minutes, the sobs slowly ceased.

“So, what’s happened since last weekend that has caused this?” was the best I could think of.

There was a pause during which I wondered if she was going to tell me. Then she rather shocked me by saying, “A fucking lot – that’s what.”

I’d never heard her swear – not even when she’d been scratched or attacked by a cat – so that word came as a considerable surprise.

“Are you going to elaborate on what constitutes ‘a fucking lot’?” I asked.

That at least brought a glimmer of a smile to her face, as I’d hoped.

“Me Dad kicked me out of the house after doing this to me – that’s what.”

Now I was shocked for the second time in a couple of minutes.

“When did that happen – and more importantly, why?

“It was on Thursday after I came home from work.”

I noticed she’d only answered the first part of my question, but decided to come back to the second one later.

“So where have you been sleeping since then?”

“One of me mates agreed to let me sleep on a sofa at her house, but she’s told me her Mum’ll only let me stay there for a few days. After that, I dunno where I’m going. Guess I’ll have to go to social tomorrow and see what’s available – either that or start sleeping in shop doorways.”

Her shoulders started to heave and a few more tears ran down her face. When her emotions appeared to be back under control, I asked,

“You’ve still not told me why.”

“I can’t. It’s not nice.”

“Not nice? What did you do: steal money, hit your Mum, wreck the house – what?”

There was a long pause before she spoke again.

“I don’t wanna tell you because you’re about the only friend I’ve got, and once I’ve told you, you’ll hate me too.”

I moved my other hand under her chin and raised it so she was looking at me.

“Kelly, unless you’ve killed someone, I couldn’t hate you. Come to that, unless you’d killed a cat, I probably still couldn’t hate you. So tell me… please?”

There was half a smile on her face from my attempt at humour, and I could sense her readying herself to tell me what she’d done that had caused all this.

“Me Mum was cleaning my bedroom on Thursday. I’d overslept that morning and in my rush to get to work on time, I’d forgotten to put away a couple of magazines I’d been reading in bed the previous night.”

She paused. “So?” I prompted.

“She took them, showed them to me Dad and when I got home all hell let loose. He was ranting and raving, slapped me round the head a couple of times and then told me he wasn’t having me living under his roof, and I could go and pack a bag and get out.”

By now I was pretty certain where this was going, but I wanted to hear it from Kelly.

“So, what was in these magazines that so upset your Dad?”

“Can’t you guess? They were lesbian magazines – pictures of girls having sex.”

“Is that all?”

She looked up at me with an expression of shock on her face.

“You don’t care?”

“Kelly, I’ll lend you some of mine if you like!”

Now she burst out laughing and sort of crying at the same time.

“I’m amazed you haven’t guessed,” I continued. “I knew I was a lesbian – or gay, as I usually term it – for several years. I try not to make it obvious, as quite a few people aren’t accepting, although luckily I’ve never had anyone react like your Dad. My parents weren’t very happy when I first told them, but soon came to accept me.”

“I did wonder,” she replied. “I had noticed you looking at me on a few occasions in a way that was different to how most people do.”

“And I’d wondered, too; especially when you said you didn’t have a boyfriend. I’d have expected an attractive girl like you to have boys round you like bees to pollen.”

“But you never said or did anything, other than a couple of little kisses.”

“No, I didn’t. I felt attracted to you, but you are much younger than me so I decided that if anything was going to happen, you would have to be the one to initiate it. After all, I could have been wrong and you were just a late developer with regard to boys.”

“I’ve never had a relationship, so I didn’t know how to start one or what to do – especially as I wasn’t sure about you.”

“Well, now you know and now we both know. I don’t flaunt what I am, but I’m not ashamed of it either.”

We sat there in silence for a few minutes, both trying to absorb the new situation. I knew, though, what I had to do.

“Kelly, there are two bedrooms in this flat and I’d be happy to let you have one for as long as you need it. No strings; we can talk about rent, but I won’t want a lot, I assure you. And, let me be totally clear, this offer isn’t made in the expectation that anything sexual is going to develop between us. I’ll be happy just to be your landlady for as long as necessary until you can find another way out of this mess your Dad has made for you.”

Kelly started to cry again. I wiped away some of the tears from her cheek, and she took hold of my hand while I was doing so and kissed it. When she’d calmed down, we talked about the situation some more, and I found out she had left home with virtually a couple of changes of clothes in her backpack. I then suggested we should go round to her house and collect some more of her clothes and other things. She was worried about doing that initially, but then remembered that her father and brothers would be out, as they would be playing football while he watched. Her mother would probably be in, but Kelly wasn’t too worried about seeing her again, as, although she was the prime cause of the problem, anything between them would only be verbal. Hopefully, she might be out, and as Kelly had a key to the front door still, that would be the best outcome.

I found a couple of my suitcases from my days at uni and loaded those into my car, along with a couple of my own backpacks. We drove round to Kelly’s house; she rang the doorbell and her mother opened it. Words were exchanged, which I couldn’t hear clearly, as I was standing a couple of yards behind, but Kelly turned to me and indicated that I was to follow her in. As I walked towards the door, her mother snarled something at me to the effect that I was a lesbian bitch who had corrupted her daughter, which I suppose was about what I should have expected. Then she walked down the hall into the kitchen and slammed the door. Kelly led me upstairs to her bedroom, and we started to pack what we could of her clothes and treasures into the cases. While doing it, I had a distinct feeling that anything that didn’t get packed today would never be seen by her again. However, by the time we’d filled everything we’d brought, along with a few carrier bags, there wasn’t much left. We lugged everything down to the car and left without seeing her mother again, stopping on the way back to collect the few things that were at her friend’s house.

There wasn’t enough furniture in the spare bedroom to accommodate all of Kelly’s clothes, so I made a note to buy another chest of drawers during the week. For the moment, she’d have to live partly out of a suitcase. Once that was done, I realised we hadn’t eaten, so I took a pizza out of the freezer, which I cooked, and we had with some salad. I also opened a bottle of wine, as I felt in need of some, and Kelly did join me.

We were both drained after what had happened, so were not too late in going to bed. As usual, ‘Fang’ joined me and quickly cuddled up next to me just below my pillow so I could put my arm just below him. It meant my arm could get cold but I suspect he felt more protected like that. I hadn’t been lying there long when I felt the bedclothes move and a body slide into the bed. Kelly scooted over to lie cuddled up against me, her naked flesh pressing on mine. Her arm went over me and lay on my chest just below my breasts. She sighed, kissed the back of my neck and then her hand began to stroke me. I rolled onto my back and then over onto my side so I was facing her.

“Kelly, I told you this doesn’t have to be a sexual relationship.”

“But I want it to be! I’ve thought about you every night for months now and dreamt that we might be together, never thinking it would happen. Don’t reject me now, not after what happened at home….”

Her voice started to break, so I put my arms around her and hugged her to me.

“I just don’t want to take advantage of you while you’re vulnerable like this.”

“But I love you! I know I do. I’ve never felt like this about anyone else. Don’t you feel anything about me?”

I knew I did, but I’d kept those feelings hidden for a variety of reasons. Now they burst their way to the surface, and it was my turn to shed a few tears of pleasure.

“Of course, I do and have for a long time, almost since I first saw you. But, you are so much younger, and I didn’t want to, I don’t know, try and lead you into something you didn’t want.”

“And how old were you when you had your first relationship?” she responded.

I had to laugh to myself as I thought back – the first time I’d gone to bed with another girl I’d been at least a year younger than Kelly.

“You’ve caught me there,” I answered.

“I want to learn how to make you happy, and doing that will make me happy.”

We kissed, deeply; we cuddled together, and then I started on Kelly’s first lesson.

 

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A couple of years have passed since that first night. Our love for each other has grown deeper, seemingly as every day passes. One other thing has changed, too – Kelly has persuaded me to stop hiding my sexuality, and we are both fully ‘out’. We happily walk into town holding hands, and although I wouldn’t say we flaunt what we are, we don’t hide it. We’ve even started a little lesbian and gay group who meet once a week in one of the pubs in town. Kelly wants to start a website where we can give advice to other young girls who might find themselves worried about their sexuality. I’m not too sure about that, but as I’ve discovered during the last two years, she is a very determined young lady, so I won’t be at all surprised to see her do it. Incidentally, she has also been promoted at work and is now a sub manager, with responsibilities for keeping shelves stacked among other things.

One thing hasn’t changed, though – and that is we still go round to Janet’s every Sunday to help with the cleaning of the cat pens.

It’s funny how things work out in life. If I hadn’t decided to join the Health Club, and if I hadn’t been forced to park in that particular area, then I’d never have seen ‘Fang’. And if I hadn’t seen him, then I’d not have ended up wanting to rescue him and discovered Janet’s little rescue centre. And if I hadn’t found that, then I’d never have even seen Kelly, other than perhaps as a cashier in a supermarket when doing my weekly shop.

Now, though, I’m happily looking forward to spending the rest of my life with Kelly – which hopefully is going to be a long time. I’m also looking forward to having ‘Fang’ spend the rest of his life with us, although we both know that isn’t going to be as long. That doesn’t mean he appears to be deteriorating due to his FI – just that cats, sadly, have a much shorter lifespan.

 

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