Julia, Juliet, and Julian
© Copyright 2000 by Lily Alex
When you come back home after hard, boring work, you need someone who is sincerely glad to see you.
Why did not she have a roommate? If asked, Julia would say she had enough money to pay the rent herself. But that was not the real reason. Julia was shy with people. Communication with animals was much easier. A pet does not swear or pray, it does not argue, and does not complain. A pet does not spend hours on the phone. An animal will never burn out the microwave... Julia could name a lot of other reasons why she preferred a cat over a roommate.
Julia named the cat Juliet. The furry, fluffy, bright orange pussycat lit up the dull Julia's life.
The sales-girl from the pet-shop recommended that Julia spays the cat, but Julia did not do that. Deep in her soul, Julia dreamed about having a baby some day, and did not want to deny her pet a chance to be a mother.
Twice in year, Juliet was in heat, but they were not tough times. Juliet just "sang," and tried to get out of the apartment. She was explored and checked all windows, and Julia had to be very careful when she was opening and closing the entryway door.
She never discovered how it had happened. When Julia went home to her apartment one day, her cat was not there waiting for her. She realized at once that Juliet was gone.
Unbelieving, feeling close to tears, Julia ran from the window to window. And she found out that the screen on the kitchen window was slightly open. Julia stared at it for a long time, then cried bitterly.
She asked about her lost cat at the local shelter. She put advertisements into all local newspapers. Nobody saw her cat.
Julia was suffering. Without her pet she felt like the deserted apartment was some sort of crypt. It was fall; rain came after rain, and thoughts of how Juliet could be wet, cold and hungry tormented Julia.
Someone knocked at her door, and Julia opened it. It was a fat woman of middle age. She was smiling.
"I found your cat!" she pronounced happily, and opened her basket. Julia's heart jumped with joy, but she got disappointed at once. It was a female cat, but not Juliet.
"This isn't my cat," Julia shook her head.
The woman was also visibly upset. She looked at the cat, then at Julia: "Are you sure? It's orange... Take a close look..."
Julia did it without saying a word. It was not Juliet. Julia wanted to cry.
The woman sighed, put the cat back into the basket, and left.
Slowly Julia went back into her living room. She sat at the coach, picked up Juliet's mouse toy, and moaned with depression.
Julia had just come back home from work. She was hungry, tired and angry. She opened the door to take some trash away, and almost collided with a man.
"I know, you lost your cat," he said with an optimistic voice. Amazed, Julia allowed the man inside, and followed him like she was in trance. The man put a cage on the kitchen table, and took out such a cute kitten that Julia smiled involuntarily. But her sorrow was still fresh in her mind, and Julia shook her head: "I don't plan to take another cat right now."
"But look at her!" the man lifted the kitten. "She is a thoroughbred Persian, the usual price of such a kitten is about six hundred dollars, I can offer this kitten just for $550, you save fifty bucks!"
"It's not about money," Julia tried to explain. But the man did not listen. He started enthusiastically complimenting the kitten. He showed to Julia its very long pedigree. He referenced some shows and clubs, prizes and countries of contests, and polite Julia did not know how to stop him.
Julia damned her shyness. How many times she has bought some useless stuff just because, she could not resolutely say: "No!" Probably it would have happened again, but now Julia was awfully hungry and tired, and she lost her patience.
"I'm not interested!" Julia interrupted the man.
"I'm sure, if you will try…" he continued his persuasions, and Julia shouted at him.
"I said, I'm not interested!" she got confused, and started trembling, and became even angrier. "Get your damn kitten out of here! Get out!"
Keeping up the talk, looking at Julia with a dying hope, the man put the kitten into the cage, and went to the exit. Julia had a headache. She did not understand a word.
"I'm not interested," it was the only thing that she could say, and she repeated it again and again, until she closed the door behind the man.
Julia was so fatigued, she even forgot what she was planning to do. Holding the garbage bag, she just stared at the door, and did not move. She wanted to sleep.
The knock got her back to her senses.
"That's it!" Mad, Julia threw the door wide open, and screamed: "Get out, or I'll call the police!"
Julia got confused. It was a small girl here, and she looked at the Julia with fear.
"Sorry," mumbled Julia. "That was not addressed to you, honey. Can I help you?"
The girl took a deep breath. She tried to say something, but she was too scared, she could not. Julia smiled as nice as she could. The girl hesitated, and started to talk again.
"I read about your cat in the newspaper," finally she said to Julia. "I can understand, how it awful to lose your pet! I have no a cat, but I brought this..." And she held out an orange guinea pig.
Julia stepped back, and sat on her couch. She felt like going crazy.
"It's just a bad dream," she thought, closing her eyes. "I'm sick, I'm delirious."
She looked at the door. The girl was gone, but not the guinea pig. The small animal was on the couch next to Julia and it stared at her. The tiny eyes of the animal showed no thoughts, and Julia nervously laughed. The situation was simply absurd. She had lost her lovely smart cat, and got this stupid animal.
Julia took the guinea pig into her arms, and went around the apartment, trying to think where to put it.
Finally Julia put the animal into the big cage, what she used some times to lock Juliet in. She gave the guinea pig some carrots and cabbage leaves, and watched the animal with a smile.
"I'll call you Romeo," Julia giggled. "Hey, Romeo!"
Keeping up the chewing, the guinea pig stared at Julia.
"You are dumb, buddy," Julia shook her head. "And I'm probably no smarter than you right now."
The guinea pig whistled, and took another bite.
"Thank you for your frankness!" Julia laughed, took the garbage bag, and went out.
Well, Romeo was like pain relief for Julia.
That day she was sitting on the rocking armchair, watching TV. She held the guinea pig on her lap, and petted it. A heavy rain was outside. The wind was howling, and the naked trees were dancing like ghosts.
"Happy, happy Halloween, Halloween, Halloween," hummed Julia, rocking herself.
She heard a knock, got up, took the plate with candy and went to the door.
Julia opened it, and thought: "What a wonderful costume of a witch!"
But suddenly she realized it was a real old lady. Julia was glad that she had no time to say this phrase aloud.
The old lady came into the apartment. She handled a big bag.
"I got your cat," she said with irritation into her voice. Julia gasped: "Wait a second!" She ran to the another room, put the guinea pig into its cage, then went back.
"Where is she?!" Julia addressed to the woman. The old lady shook her head.
"First of all," she said resolutely. "I want get things straight. Your stupid cat ate my trout up, and I want to have compensation."
Julia gasped, imagining, how poor Juliet was hungry. She grabbed her purse, took out all her cash, and held it out to the lady.
The old lady took two bills, and returned the rest.
"I just wanted my money," she explained coldly, zipped the bag open, and took out a cat.
Julia threw her hands. It was not Juliet. It was another, very young pussycat.
"This is not my cat!"
The lady lifted her brows.
"It should be yours!" she said angrily. "I saw your advertisement! And it ate my trout! It was a big fish! And this animal ate it up!" She shook the cat. "It ate up the whole fish!"
Julia's look met the cat's eyes. She saw the cat was deeply depressed. Julia could imagine how the poor kitty felt: scared and hungry. She thought that if she did not take the cat, the old lady would put it to sleep, or just throw it out on the street, where it so cold, and rainy.
"Maybe someone will do the same thing for my cat," Julia thought.
She took the cat, and the animal pressed itself to Julia, and sighed, and compassion squeezed Julia's heart. She was not sorry that she took it.
The old lady left the apartment without saying a word.
Julia followed her, but she had no time to close the door. A man with a lap dog in his arms bowed to her: "Happy Halloween! I see, you have found your cat?"
"Maybe you won't believe this," Julia sighed. "But it's not my cat… Well, it's my cat now. I mean, this is not the same cat that I lost."
The man shook his head.
"My name is Julian," he introduced himself. "I love my doggie very much, and I can understand your feelings."
"Come in!" Julia said impulsively. "What weather! Would you like a cup of tea?"
"Sure!" the man laughed and went in. "Thank you very much."
"My doggie likes cats," he explained to Julia.
A few days later, one of Julia's colleagues took in the young cat that the old woman had brought her. Julia was glad that the poor animal finally found a good home. She wanted to believe that Juliet would be also okay.
Julie talked with Julian about this many times. From their first meeting they became friends. They both loved animals, they were both shy, and after spending time together, they started to feel more than just friendly feelings.
They were sitting at her couch, hugging each other.
"I feel awful," Julie wept. "I'm so happy with you... But Juliet... She's gone... She's gone forever..."
"Don't cry, sweetheart," Julian kissed her. "You should never lose hope."
"I already have," Julia replied tiredly. She heard Julian's dog was barking non-stop into the next room. "What's going on with your doggie?"
They went to the room.
Barking, the dog was jumping under the window. Julia gasped. She saw a cat. Dirty, emaciated, shabby… Julia could not believe her eyes. But it was Juliet. It was Juliet for sure, and Julie ran to the window, and opened it wide.
This Christmas was the best in Julia's entire life.
She got a diamond ring from Julian. (Of course, she accepted his
proposal!) And her beloved Juliet gave birth to five many-colored
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