Yesterday, early evening. A young man walks along the pavement beneath our kitchen window. He is carrying a large cardboard box. Slowly the box breaks open and a small kitten escapes. It scrabbles up a high wall, slinks under a fence, pauses and then scurries into an area of trees and undergrowth. The man stops walking. Standing completely still he stares after the kitten, the box still in his hands.
Why was he carrying a kitten in a box? Had he just bought it? Was it a present for someone else? The kitten was petrified. Their was clearly no relationship between the two of them. I waited to see if he would dash up to the path that lies just beneath the little wooded area to see if he could find it. But no, nothing. He just walked away.
Later, on the radio news bulletin, a dog owner defends her hiring of a helicopter to search out her missing dog. She’s a member of the family, she said, wouldn’t you do all you could to find a family member? She will be lost and scared and hungry. I will do what I can to get her back.
All night long I thought I heard mewing. My heart breaking at the sound.
This morning, another kitten, a tortoiseshell, dashes across the main road.
Driving back from Birmingham he tells me to look out for the lorry. Are you awake, he asks. We’re nearly there. There, he says, see it? And I do. First a clutch of police vans around a line of mangled barriers. The blinking of orange lights in the gloom. Then the row of tyres, upended in the air. It’s in the canal, like an enormous beetle, unable to right itself. You can barely see the cab, just the tyres. Are they still turning? It’s sunk deep into the water. It’s a shock to see such a beast, defeated. Sunk. Drowning in the mud. And then it is gone. We pass. My head craning. Was he hurt? What a shock. Was it ice? He must have skidded right across the two lanes. Too fast. Too fast.
Might he be set free soon? His lovely gentle face, laughing with his children on the front of The Independent. I have thought of you. They say, he says, that the punishment will have stopped. No more lashes. I pray that it is so. I have thought of you. Is it enough?