Lydia could still smell the formaldehyde from the dead rat she’d been dissecting in her biology class. She couldn’t get the odor out, even when she’d tried extreme methods like scrubbing her hands with fresh cut lemons. It seemed like every time she turned the steering wheel over the twenty minute drive the pungent scent wafted back into her nostrils. She parked her Chevy Cavalier and hopped out, breathing in fresh Texas sunshine. Maybe the horses would cover up the rat smell.
As Lydia walked towards the small 12 stall barn where she kept her horse, she heard a choked cry. Glancing to her right, she saw a tiny tortoiseshell cat perched on the trampoline. She was bony, ribs and spine exposed underneath thinning marbled fur. She only had three legs, so she teetered awkwardly to the right in an attempt to balance herself, and she didn’t have a tail. Mangled, she was, although her injuries had long since healed. Lydia shuddered slightly over the poor condition of the cat, who might have been the ugliest animal she’d ever seen if you didn’t count the Texas-sized possums that had a tendency to lurk about campus after dark.
Lydia decided to ignore the cries of the little cat. Instead, she entered the barn to tend to the horses. She managed the day to day life of the barn in exchange for free board. For a horse-crazy college student, it was a pretty sweet deal. Particularly since the horses spent most of their days out to pasture. She only had one stall to muck, a pregnant Arabian mare named Alex who was due to foal any day now. Lydia didn’t know jack about foaling, but the owners had assured her that they would handle that part. All the while, as Lydia mucked and measured grain and filled water troughs, she felt cool green eyes on her back. The tiny cat watched her every move.
Eventually Thea, the owner, stepped into the barn.
“How’s she looking?” Thea asked, nodding her head towards Alex.
“Fat,” Lydia answered, “But healthy I think.”
“Can you set up a vet appointment for sometime this week? I’d like to get her looked at, see if he can tell when she’s likely to drop.”
“Sure, I’ll call him when I get done here,” Lydia responded, tossing a shovel of manure into the wheelbarrow.
“Did you meet Rose?”
“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” Thea quoted.
Lydia blinked. “Shakespeare?”
“Yes,” Thea said, smiling gently.
“Are you talking about that creature on the trampoline?”
“Ah, you have met!”
“Thea, she looks awful. Like death warmed over.”
“Come here, Lydia, come meet her.” Thea began walking towards the trampoline, and Lydia followed, reluctantly.
“I found her at the city dump, curled up in an old tire. I had no choice. I couldn’t leave her there. I don’t know what happened to her, but look. Look at her courage,” Thea said, as she began stroking the emaciated cat. “Go ahead. You won’t hurt her. She just wanted to be loved.”
Tentatively, Lydia reached out her hand. She felt as though the weak little cat’s bones would crumple under her fingers. She stroked the sparse fur, and listened as the loud motor of a purr began. Rose started drooling in happiness, green eyes wide in adoration. Her paws kneaded against the trampoline, and she lay down in full trust, taking the weight off her supporting legs.
“Thea, she’s beautiful!” Lydia gasped in surprise.
“Now, Lydia. Now, you have truly met Rose.”
This week's prompt for The Red Dress Club: This week's assignment is to write a short piece, either fiction or non-fiction, about something ugly - and find the beauty in it.
There are many things I could write about on this topic.
Funny what you can find if you only look past it all.
There are so many things in life that don't appear beautiful until you get to know them. I think I would have been hesitant to approach Rose. I am so glad Lydia did.
If JDaniel had been a girl, he would have been Lydia.
I am a lot like Thea when it comes to the animals. Hubby says I have a way with picking the 'specially challenged' critters. I think I give them the love I should have had as a child. Pure and unadulterated love that we all need to bring out our true beauty
What a heartwarming post, I love this way of finding the beautiful. It is always there if we just look hard enough.
Awww. Sweet little cat given a new life from dump to barn. :)
Thank you, I needed some beauty today and your brought it. (I would have fallen in love with Rose too!)
That's a very touching story. Nice work.
RE: Your Grandma's cookbook, it's so nice that it includes historical information and even has recipes for the small holidays. I'm looking forward to your posts. Thank your Grandma. :-)
Life is funny this way-those who seem least deserving of love are the ones who really deserve it the most-people or animals. I loved this post:) And I'm glad Rose is loved, too.
Loved this... :)
I felt like I was right there with her, tending to the horses.
Wonderful story. Great descriptive writing.
That was awesome, Baby Girl!....:)JP
This made tears come in too my eyes! Very well described, I could see, fell and hear the poor kitten as if I were Lydia.
Beautiful! I always had a soft spot for homeless cats (and the ones who lived in my home), and I love how Thea showed Lydia what I was always trying to explain to others.
This coul easily be the story of our cat Crash. Once they revived him (our vet found him and he looked like he'd been squashed by a car tire), he morphed into a majestic beautiful (lazy) cat.
I've joined to follow your site.
I had a feeling there would be something more to the cat :) You never know what you might get if you just give a little love.
I shuddered over the smell of the rat. Ew
Visiting from RDC
This is truly lovely. We need to open our eyes and our hearts more.
Awww. beautiful and heart warming. I loved the way you have used certain words beyond their orthodox use.
So very sweet and heartwarming.
Oh it's all about perception, isn't it? Love this take on the prompt!
It's a universal truth - sometimes first impressions are wrong, and we need to see someone/something in a different light to appreciate it. Well done!
oh, so sweet!
I love that Lydia shied away from the cat a first but that with a little gentle nudging was able to see the beauty in a fighting spirit.
I really loved this. Felt teary-eyed about how easy it was to dismiss the cat due to it's brokenness. "Go ahead and touch her. She just wants to be loved".....oh, how that could be said about so many people in our daily world. This post will remind me to not be so quick to turn my eyes away at the sight of something/someone that makes me uncomfortable. Look a deeper, and search for the beauty.
Love your blog....trying to get reinspired for running...became a follower! :)
Oh, this was lovely. Rose IS beautiful.
Truly a don't judge a book by it's cover moment! I like that at first she dismissed Rose and then, when asked to, took a second look.
My heart just aches for that creature, and I'm so not a cat person. You made it impossible not to embrace her though. And I think I could learn a thing or two about forgiveness and trust from that one.
Shakespeare and a drooling, purring cat.
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