This story is by Sara Staffaroni and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It was early in the morning, and the ticking of the pendulum clock was the only sound breaking the silence that consumed Olga’s home. The 80-year-old sat on her red armchair, watching the snow fall rapidly onto Melane Road. She was reminded of the day she moved into this home with her husband, Nestor, many years ago. Their new front lawn had been covered in fresh snow, and Olga had been filled with excitement imagining their unborn children playing in that snow for many years to come.
All she had ever wanted was children. But soon after they had started trying, they learned something was wrong with Nestor. Adoption had been out of the question for Olga—-it would have felt like a hopeless attempt to fill a void. Instead, she had chosen to carry that sense of loss with her whilst avoiding the topic of children complete. Luckily, Nestor had followed suit, perhaps in part due to the sense of guilt weighing on him.
One day, after a few years had passed, Nestor came home with a box. His blue eyes had beamed as he watched Olga peal it open to find two kittens staring up at her. Olga’s chest had tightened at the sight of them, realizing her husband’s failed attempt to bring new life into their home.
She had immediately known that the cats’ presence would have been a daily reminder of the life she’d never have. She couldn’t bear any more pain—-they had to go. So that evening, while Nestor slept, Olga put the kittens outside, knowing fully well what was to become of them on a winter night.
The next morning, Nestor had been furious with her. After burying the little creatures, he had returned home with somber eyes. And they had remained that way until, at the age of forty-five, Nestor unexpectedly fell ill and died. With Nestor gone, Olga’s void only grew bigger.
The clock stroke seven and Olga was brought back to present day. She set down her coffee, picked up her cane and draped herself in her winter coat. It was time for her morning walk.
As soon as she opened her front door, she could hear them. The hooligans, she called them. She figured the fresh snow must have drawn them out. She could see them running around the street, with their ridiculous brightly colored mittens, throwing snow balls at each other and squealing like pigs at the slaughterhouse. When she was younger, she had the strength to contain her irritation towards the youths living on Melane Road, but she believed that, given that she didn’t have much time left to leave a mark on this world, she didn’t haven’t the luxury to hold back.
So, she took a deep breath and shouted, “Shut the hell up, you little monsters!”
The children scattered like a crowd of frightened sheep. They knew better than stick around. Satisfied, Olga began her walk, but was soon interrupted.
“Good morning, Olga.”
Olga immediately recognized the voice. It was pink undies Benjamin.
She turned around to see him smiling at her. “I see you’re still choosing to run in underwear, Benjamin.”
“Olga, I assure you, these are running shorts.”
She squinted at his lower half as to give him the benefit of the doubt. In contrast to the shorts, his pasty legs looked like mozzarella sticks. Olga hated mozzarella sticks.
“I sincerely doubt it, Benjamin. You let me see you around in those again, I’ll have to file a complaint to homeowners association.” Satisfied with her threat, Olga turned back around around and went on her way.
She was considering the right course of action for bringing down pink undies Benjamin, when she heard a scuffle. She scanned the area and found that it was coming from a black plastic bag set on the side of the road. She used the cane to widen the opening of the bag. And out came a white kitten, soon followed by three more.
As soon as they looked up at Olga, she stumbled backwards. She was shocked to see Nestor’s blue eyes staring back at her. Nostalgia for her husband washed over Olga. It was a sensation she was tempted to linger in, but she knew better, so instead, she turned around to head home.
It didn’t take long for Olga to feel as if she was being watched. She turned abruptly to see all four kittens in pursuit of her.
“Oh no you don’t!” she said, swinging her cane at them. “Don’t you follow me. Go on, get outa here!”
Olga’s threats didn’t seem to stick, however. The kittens remained on her tail. As she approached her front porch, she could feel her neighbors eyes on her, but she kept her gaze straight until she reached her door and slammed it shut behind her.
She had hoped the little furry monsters had gotten the point and left, but when she peeked outside her window they were still there. They could sense they were being watched and turned to look at her.
She cracked the window open. “Go on, get out of here, you dumb animals!”
They didn’t budge. So, Olga sat on her red armchair and waited. They’d have to get tired of sitting around sooner or later, she thought. Then again, they might wait outside for too long and freeze to death. She couldn’t help but feel a sting in her chest at that possibility. That scenario felt too familiar.
She sighed and wiggled herself out of the chair. When she opened the door she was disappointed to see that they were all still there, but relieved to see they were still breathing. Given their clear persistence, Olga decided it would be best to keep them inside until she could decide what to do with them in the morning. So she opened the door wider and a pile of cats stumbled into Olga’s home.
The next morning Olga’s doorbell rang. When she opened it, she found hot pink undies Benjamin standing on her porch with two hooligans.
“Yes?” Olga said.
“Hi Olga, I hope we aren’t intruding,” Benjamin said. “Ah, so, they boys here said they saw you bringing home a few kittens yesterday, and, well, they must be hungry, so we thought we’d stop by and offer some cat food for them.”
Benjamin gestured to one of the boys holding a bag. “We have extra at our house.”
“I see,” Olga said. “I suppose this saves me a trip to the store.”
She opened the door and stepped aside. “Come in.”
The boys bolted inside, heading straight for the animals who were sitting on the red armchair. An explosion of excited sounds took over Olga’s living room, immediately shattering the silence that had cumulated over the years.
“Boys, calm down,” Benjamin said but it didn’t make a difference. They were now crawling on all fours on the floor chasing after the little creatures.
“I am sorry Olga, they get really excited whenever there’s animals around.”
“It’s understandable,” said Olga as she picked up one of the furry things. She could feel him purring as she gently stroked his little head.
“What’s that one called?” asked one of the boys looking up at her.
Olga lifted the kitten up to her face. His bright blue eyes looked back at her with equal new found affection.
A smile cracked on Olga’s face.
“His name is Nestor,” she decided.