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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write something suitable for CHILDREN (05/31/07)

TITLE: Abernathy the Cat
By Marita Vandertogt


Abernathy the Cat

Abernathy was a cat that nobody liked. He was long and skinny, the colour of an orange with very thin legs. Abernathy was six years old, and never had a real home. And he hissed. At everyone he saw. Big mean hisses to keep them away. And they did just that.

When the moon shone full at night on the house tops, and through the green leaves of the trees, Abernathy would come out from where he lay sleeping all day long, under someoneís front porch, or hidden away behind a leafy green bush. His wobbly legs would carry him around to the backs of houses, where garbage cans sat, full of left over food from their supper that night. And Abernathy would push against the cans until they fell over. Bump, bump bump, heíd go, with his skinny little body, until it toppled and hit the ground. The lid would roll off and Abernathy would stick his nose in and look for something good to eat. He didnít always find it. Some nights he had no food at all.

One night, when the moon was full, Abernathy moved along the back lanes again until he smelled another garbage can, filled with delicious aroma of leftovers. He pushed against it with his little body until it hit the ground, this time with a really big crash. The crash was so loud, it woke the people who lived in the house. Lights went on in the windows, and when he looked up, he saw the face of a little girl looking down on him. He looked back for only a second, and then he ran, as fast as he could go, away from the garbage can, and the house. Maybe he would try again the next night.

And he did just that. The next night, he waited until the moon was hidden behind some dark clouds. This time his skinny little body moved into the backyard, careful to watch that nobody saw him. The can was standing there again, the lid on tight. But this time, just before he started to knock against it, he looked up at the window again and saw the face of the little girl he saw the night before. She smiled and moved away from the window. The next thing Abernathy knew, she was standing at the door, just next to the garbage can with a bowl in her hand. Abernathy didnít know what to do. So he did what he always did. He let out a great big hissss, and ran away. He ran away from the little girl, from the garbage can full of food, and from the bowl that maybe had a dinner just for him.

Melody was the little girlís name, and she called to Abernathy, her bare feet on the wet grass, ďkitty kitty kitty,Ē until she spotted him hiding under a bush. Abernathy didnít want to run away from her. There was something about her that made him not want to hiss at her either, but he did anyway. A great big hisssss from under the bush.

But it didnít scare Melody. She didnít back away. Instead, she bent down and put the bowl in front of his frightened little face and moved away. Abernathy smelled the delicious tuna fish, and made his way to the bowl, with one eye on Melody. She sat down beside the bowl, and waited, speaking gently to him as though he were a tiny baby.

Finally Abernathy came out from under the bush. He started to eat the food, and let Melody pet his skinny little orange body. He liked the feel of her tiny hand touching him in such a loving way. In fact, he liked it so much, he forgot to hisss.

The next night, he came back for more. And the night after that, and the night after that. And every night, Melody scratched his ears, and his chin and patted his long, not so skinny body any more as he started to get a little fatter. Soon Abernathy wasnít hissing at people anymore either. Heíd walk up and down the street, strutting his little body with pride. No more hiding under the dark light of the moon. Somebody loved him.

And soon, he had a real home to call his own. And lots of love to go with it.
Melody named him Abernathy. She didnít know that was his real name all along.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Dowd06/08/07
A very cute and endearing story. Of course, being a cat-lover myself, and feeding strays, as well as owning 5 indoor cats, I was intrigued by your story. Good point, too: regardless of rejection, if one persists, one can make friends even with the friendless and undesirable. Loved your story.
Dee Yoder 06/10/07
I think children in the middle grades would love this story! Your description of poor Abernathy is so visual, right down to his skinny legs.:)
Rita Garcia06/11/07
Sure to please all us cat lovers, both big and small!
julie wood06/13/07
I loved this story! Abernathy comes alive in it--I can just see and hear him, as well as feel with him. Great name and title, too-it drew me in right away, both because I'm a cat lover and because personal names always spark my curiosity about their owners. Great job!