Can a love of cats be the cure for loneliness? Find out in this fictional short story by S Bee.
“Can I help you?”
“I’d like to join the library,” George stated shyly.
“Have you any ID?” the librarian asked. She seemed nice, George thought. She looked around the mid-fifties age range. Her name badge showed she was called Valerie.
Valerie’s blue eyes sparkled and George felt drawn to her warm, kind expression. Her brown bob shone and a pair of trendy spectacles perched on her nose.
She was adorned in a fawn blouse peppered with an assortment of smiling cat faces. Her attire made him think of his last cat, Sherbet, a loyal black and white tom who’d loved to snuggle up to him on the sofa. Sadly, he’d died three years ago. He still missed him dreadfully.
“Yes.” George was prepared. He produced his driving licence and several utility bills from his jacket pocket.
“That’s fine,” Valerie smiled. “Could you fill this membership form in, please?”
As George penned in his details, he looked around.
This was a small one-level library, yet the room had been split into different zones. He was pleased to see a computer zone with desks and chairs.
Now retired, George had recently moved to a sleepy town in rural Yorkshire. He was divorced and was looking forward to a fresh start.
He’d found a lovely cottage by the river and had settled in quickly. However, he’d wanted a project — something to fill the lonely days.
One evening, a TV programme about celebrities tracing their ancestors was broadcast. It gave George a great idea. Why not work on his own family tree? Hence the library visit.
When his library membership card arrived in the post the next day (‘Blimey, that was quick!’ he thought), George armed himself with an A4 pad and pens and set off. He didn’t have a computer at home — he’d be relying on the ones at the library. Yet when he arrived, he couldn’t access them.
“He’d wanted a project — something to fill the lonely days.”
“Sorry Mr Archer,” Valerie said. “Tuesday afternoon is the silver surfers’ session, you see. They book all our computers for it every week.”
This time, she was wearing a pink blouse scattered with multi-coloured feline paw prints. It was very eye-catching and again, it made him think of Sherbet.
“How long does the session last?” “Two hours,” she answered.
“Two hours?” he gulped. “Why not join in? It’s free for the over-fifties,” she put in.
George shook his head. He wouldn’t know what to say to a group of strangers. He lacked confidence. Sherbet had been his best friend.
Surely Wednesday would be better?
It wasn’t. For the library, it was half-day closing. Blast! Why hadn’t he checked the opening times before he’d set out? He may as well turn back.
He really missed hearing the ‘miaow’ greeting and the soft swish of fur against his legs every time he opened the front door.
It was a nice day, he mused. It was a pity not to take advantage of the warm weather. Why not walk a different way home for a change?
Thursday afternoon was apparently reserved for the book club.
Stationed at a PC at last, he could hear every word of the discussion about the new spy thriller. He’d read it himself recently — he was longing to throw in his opinion.
“Sorry about this,” Valerie echoed, when he’d gently complained. “If you like reading, it’s worth considering that the book club is open to all. I attend the evening meetings.”
This time, she was kitted out in a lemon blouse dotted with cute cartoon
kittens. It reminded him that, yesterday, he’d passed the local animal shelter on his new route.
“So what’s on the agenda here for tomorrow?” he asked.
Valerie glanced at the noticeboard. “A local history group meeting. Why don’t you come along?”
Local history sounded interesting. It would tie in nicely with his family tree project too.
“I won’t be here, I’m afraid. It’s my day off,” Valerie said.
“Could he really find a place in his heart for another moggy?“
“Doing anything interesting?” he ventured.
She shrugged. “Not really.” “I’m visiting the animal shelter tomorrow. I’ve decided to adopt a cat.” Had he? Where had that come from? “Why don’t you come with me?”
Her face lit up. “I’d love to!” “I thought you were a cat lover,” he grinned as he indicated her attire.
“My tabby, Max, died last year.” Tears glistened. “I miss him so much.”
“I’m sorry. I had a cat that died too. He was called Sherbet. It’s hard, but it does get better, I promise.”
She nodded. Suddenly, doubt descended. Could he really find a place in his heart for another moggy?
"Look, I may end up not actually choosing a cat tomorrow—”
“Don’t be so sure,” Valerie chuckled. “From what I know about moggies, they choose you.”
George calls me ‘Cat woman’. It’s all down to my feline-themed blouses, apparently!
I knew as soon as I saw George that I liked him. I asked around the town and discovered that, like me, he was divorced and like me, he loved reading and cats.
After that, it was easy. I made sure I wore my special cat blouses. I just hoped that we’d eventually fall into conversation and we did. That was six months ago.
Talking of history, George has joined the local history society, the silver surfers’ group and the book club too. We also help out at the animal shelter.
He’s so busy, he’s forgotten all about his family tree project!
Yes, that’s right — I said ‘we’. We fell in love quickly and now we’re engaged. We plan to marry next year.
However, our household isn’t complete without our mogs. We ended up acquiring two — a brother and sister kitten duo that couldn’t be parted.
Tia is all ginger and Rocky is ginger and white. They bring us so much joy. George and I agree — there’s nothing quite like the love of a cat!
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