General Fiction posted July 16, 2017 Chapters:  ...76 77 -78- 79... 

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A chapter in the book Family7

The Worried Search

by Barb Hensongispsaca

"Did you hear that?" she asked aloud to really no one.

She had just walked in the door from work. The house was quiet and dark, but before she turned on the light, she thought she heard a faint crying. After standing still and craning her head to hear any sound, she decided she was imagining things.

She was so tired, she decided not to fight sleep just to watch TV. She had put in sixteen long, grueling hours at work. A short bubble bath, a glass of wine, and the phone turned off was all she needed to get a good night's sleep.

After turning the phone off, she ran a warm bath, complete with her favorite scented bubble bath. She placed the wine glass next to the tub to enjoy as she relaxed, then let the cares of the past few hours melt away. She so wanted to leave her worries with her work and go to bed, stress free.

She woke with a start to realize she had dozed off. She decided it was time to go to bed and allow her body to heal from the proceeding weeks assault on her senses. The bath had worked. As the stress left her body, the wines effect of relaxation and the neighbors soft music was lulling her to sleep. As soon as her head hit the pillow she sailed off into a dream-free sleep...but not sound free.

Every once in a while through the night, her subconscious was aroused by a familiar sound. It was not enough to wake her totally, but enough to disturb her slumber. The sound seemed to gnaw at the back of her memory, but she was so sound asleep that her body and mind shut down each time and relaxed into the depths of total relaxation.

She roused from sleep and checked the clock. It was morning, her day off, and she had nothing to do, so she closed her eyes and let herself drift off again. Something still kept gnawing at her subconscious. She started to come awake as the gnawing brought her out of slumber into the light. The pitter-patter of little feet in the hall normally woke her each morning. Today, it was the absence of it.

"Jackie, here kitty, kitty. Come see Mama," she called.

Something was not right. She could feel it. She called out again for Jackie and fell silent, waiting for a response. Little bursts of apprehension started to crawl their way up her spine. She called again, waiting to hear the pitter-patter, but there was no response. She threw back the covers and jumped out of bed. Running barefoot through each room in the house, checking each closet and hiding space, she could only think the worst.

Finding nothing upstairs, she took the stairs two at a time to the main floor. Fear was taking over as she searched every room, every cubby hole, every spot that could be used as a hiding place. She found nothing. No Jackie.

She forced herself to slow down and one more time check the house; with a flashlight she covered every inch. Then she went to the basement. Jackie was never allowed in the basement, but she checked anyway.

"Jackie, please," she pleaded.

She grabbed her coat and ran out the door in her bare feet. Calling as she went, she checked the hedges, the garage, each neighbor with-in a block radius, their hedges and garages, and any place a pregnant cat might hide.

Dejected, she returned home. In her mind, she was trying to figure how Jackie had gotten out of the house. She fretted that she should have seen the signs. Jackie had not been eating right for a couple of days; she was off her food and drinking a lot. Still, it did not register that Jaclie was going into labor.

She fought back tears; she thought of Jackie being alone, or worse, hurt. Her mind came up with the worst case scenarios - a dog got her, she was trapped in a shed, she fell down a well. Then she cried some more.

She decided to get dressed and go out again to search the neighborhood. Her heart felt heavy as her mind raced again through memory after memory.

She was combing her hair when she heard the first sounds...quiet, soft mewing. She stood still trying to will the sounds again. Just when she had herself convinced that it was her need to hear the sounds, is when she heard them again. She started searching the bathroom. When she lifted the lid to the clothes hamper, she was greeted with a wonderful surprise. On the dirty clothes lay Jackie nursing her five kittens.

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