Under her cracked pads the summer rain was a blessed relief. The cat walked with the stiffness of age, but also with the fragility of one so withered. Her fur was dull and thin, unwashed and bare over the tips of her pronounced shoulder blades. At the curbside she hesitated, this cat that once scaled up mighty oaks and jumped from roof tops to outlying branches knew the tiny hop to the road could hurt.


"A feral cat like that will never trust you, Jan. Even if you bring her home, feed her grandly on best sardines, she'll be wild in her heart. You must know that." Dad tried to soften the blow with a gentle smile and a hand on her shoulder, Jan shrugged it off.

"But she's so young! I could train her, love her!" Dad shook his head and sat on the low wall, his work boots flattening the summer weeds.

"Jan, listen, I once did the exact same thing. I took in a feral and calmed her some, fed her. She had some kittens, got spooked, never saw her again. Something about motherhood triggered the wild in he all over. It's a heartbreak waiting to happen, love." But Jan wasn't done yet. With hands on hips she raised her head to the morning light.

"Then you do understand, I've got to try! And it's my heart to break." Dad wore the same look he did when his wife had one of her new 'great ideas.' With eyes sagging, face muscles slackened and shoulders drooped, he sighed. Perhaps it was time to let his little girl learn a few things the hard way, maybe that was just part of growing up.