Lucy had never been happier. She adored her beautiful black and white kitten.
From the minute Lucy picked him up for the first time Lucky claimed her as his own. He was with her every moment of the day when she was at home.
‘You’re so handsome,’ Lucy had said, letting the kitten out of her arms and onto her duvet in her room. The black and white kitten had looked at her with huge green eyes before curling into a ball and going to sleep, purring loudly.
She ran her fingers over his soft fur, slowly tracing the lines where his coat colour changed from black to white. The top of his head was black and his elegant nose white, with the longest whiskers Lucy had ever seen. He had a white bib, white legs and a jet black body and the longest tail she had ever seen on a cat, with a tiny white circle around his tail near the top.
He had the loudest purr she had ever heard and loved to curl up beside her when she was in bed.
He was very well behaved too and soon learned how to use his litter tray and to meow at the back door when he went outside. Because he was a little kitten he didn’t go outside at first and then only with Lucy beside him to make sure he was safe.
Lucy made everyone laugh at home with his antics. Sometimes he climbed up onto the sofa when they were watching television and would sit, looking at everyone until he decided whose knee he wanted to curl up on. He loved watching football on television too and sat in front of the screen, looking solemnly at the action.
‘I’m sure he supports Chelsea,’ Lucy’s dad laughed, watching Lucky sitting beside the television.
One of the naughty things that Lucky learned was to wake Lucy up in the morning before it was time to get up. When he got hungry he would tap her face with his paw until she woke up. Then he would meow until she got up and went downstairs to feed him.
‘That cat is very smart,’ Lucy’s mum said, when Lucky had meowed so much that she had fed him again, even though Lucy had already fed him. ‘He knows how to get extra food.’
Lucky became part of the family, spending all his time with them.
‘Look at this,’ Lucy’s dad laughed when Lucky jumped up onto one of the kitchen chairs when the family were having breakfast. He sat on his chair watching them eat.
‘He’s very polite,’ Lucy’s mum said. ‘He doesn’t want to eat. He doesn’t try to get on the table. He just wants to be with us. Part of the family.’ She ran her hand over Lucky’s shining coat. ‘What a clever cat you are.’
For Lucy having Lucky in her life made living out in the countryside so much better. She had missed her friends terribly. Now she had a friend who always wanted to be with her.
As winter turned into spring and then slowly into summer, Lucky grew into a handsome young cat. Gradually he was allowed to spend more time outside once Lucy and her parents were sure he wasn’t going to be scared or get into any danger.
Lucy watched him from the house as he prowled around the garden. Once she saw him go down the drive and was about to run outside and fetch him back to the safely of the house when she saw him running away from the road, scared by a car which drove by.
After that Lucky never went near the road, but instead would go to the end and stayed in the bushes where he watched the cars whiz by.
Lucy spent hours with the handsome black and white kitten, playing games with him and enjoying even just watching him as he slept. He was a bundle of fun and spent hours playing with Lucy, taking great amusement from leaping out at her from the bushes.
At night Lucky accompanied Lucy upstairs where he snuggled down in the curve of her legs to sleep where it was warm and comfortable.
Lucky was a good alarm clock and Lucy was always up early as Lucky wouldn’t let her sleep once her mother had called her for breakfast. Lucy couldn’t stay asleep when the kitten began to snuggle began to wriggle into the gap between the bed clothes and lie on her neck. Lucy was always sorry when she had to go to school, but Lucky would accompany her down the drive and wait with her for the school bus and was always there waiting when she came home from school.
She’d feel a lovely knot of excitement when she came out of school. Hopping from one foot to the other while she waited with the other children for the school bus. Once on the bus she’d sit, with the other children, chatting to them about their homework and what had happened at school. But with one eye on the road, watching the now familiar landmarks slip by, counting them off as she got closer and closer to home and being with Lucky again.
Even the bus driver began to look for Lucky. As soon as the bus came to a stop at the end of Lucy’s drive the now big black and white cat would come out of the bushes, meowing a greeting to Lucy.
‘There he is,’ the bus driver would say as Lucky trotted down the drive towards Lucy, his tail in the air, his meow loud over the noise of the bus.
‘He loves you, does that cat.’
‘I know he does,’ Lucy would say, bending to pick Lucky up into her arms and carry him towards the house. Lucky would rub his hard head against Lucy’s cheek and purr in delight at having her back.
‘He plays around in the garden,’ Lucy’s mum told her, ‘I see him climbing the trees, but as soon as your bus is due he walks down the drive and goes under the bushes to wait for you.’
Lucky would follow Lucy up the drive and into the house where he would have his dinner and then would sit on her knee, or on the desk beside her while she did her homework.
Lucky was loved by everyone in the house, but also by the neighbours who he went to visit occasionally.
Mrs Flannigan lived at the end of the village, sometimes Lucky went to visit her when there was no one around for him to play with. He would keep himself safe from the road by going through the gardens, climbing over the wooden fences and walls, or slipping through gaps in the hedges. Everyone in the village knew him and would enjoy his visits. He was such a friendly cat. The Murphy’s who lived next door often caught Lucky playing catch with the laundry when Mrs Murphy hung it on the line to dry in the sun. Lucky would come into the garden and jump up at the clothes on the line. She loved watching him run around the lawn trying to catch the shadows made by the laundry hanging on the line.
The Murphy’s had a big dog, Rex, who didn’t like Lucky though and would chase him if he was out in the garden when Lucky came in. ‘This is my house.’ Rex would say, ‘Stay in your own garden with your own family.’
Lucky soon learned to know when Rex was around and to stay clear of the garden when he was around.
There were other dogs and cats in the houses on the lane and Lucky soon got to know them all and to know where he would find company, or even better a titbit of food.
The Shalley family who lived a few doors away had a beautiful, fluffy white cat called Sheba. She was always pleased to see Lucky and would purr with delight when he came into her garden. The two cats always had great fun together, playing catch and climbing up the big apple tree in the Shalley’s orchard. They loved it up there, watching the birds fly around and seeing who was walking around the pavements in the village.
Mrs Flannigan was a widow she lived alone in a small cottage. All of her children were grown up and had got their own houses and families. She was very lonely and missed the company of her husband and the little dog they used to have.
Whenever Lucky arrived at her cottage she would hurry to the kitchen and find a tasty titbit for him to eat. She didn’t realise that Lucky belonged to Lucy and thought he was a stray who didn’t belong to anyone. She often saw him around the village and thought he went to everyone’s houses looking for food and company. He was so friendly that she often let him come into her house where he would sit beside her while she read the newspaper. He knew when it was time to go home though and would always meow at the door telling Mrs Flannigan that he needed to go and meet Lucy. Mrs Flannigan just thought he was bored of her company and looking for somewhere else to be.
One evening her son, Tommy came to visit just as she was feeding Lucky with a left-over piece of meat. “Nice cat,” said Mrs Flannigan’s son, stroking Lucky’s head.
“He’s a stray cat, Tommy” Mrs Flannigan told her son, adding a bit more meat to the plate.
“It’s good of you to feed him,” Tommy said.
“I’ve become very fond of him,” said Mrs Flannigan picking Lucky up and stroking his shining black fur. “He comes to visit me every few days, I don’t know where he goes the rest of the time.”
Tommy ran his hand over Lucky’s glossy coat, “I like cats, he is very handsome and well mannered. Maybe you could bring him with you when you come to live with me and Catherine.”
“I’d like that,” Mrs Flannigan. “He would be good company for me while you and Catherine are at work.”
“Tell you what,” Tommy said, smiling at his mother, “why don’t we put him in the kitchen, so he will be ready for when I pick you up tomorrow.”
Mrs Flannigan smiled. “He will like it in there,” she took Lucky back from Tommy and carried him inside, “I’m sure he will like having a proper home for once.”
‘Will you call me later and help me with my English homework,’ Claire said, flicking through the book they’d been told to read a chapter of and then write a piece about.
‘Of course,’ Lucy replied.
‘I’ll help you with English, but you’ll have to help me with my Maths.’ Lucy shook her head, the equations they had been given to do were so hard. She hated Maths.
‘After dinner, though,’ Claire said. ‘I want to watch something on television when I get home.’
‘I’m not allowed to watch television until I’ve done my homework,’ Lucy began to gather her belongings as the school bus turned off the main road and into the village lanes. She didn’t care about not watching television, she had Lucky to keep her entertained. He was better than any television programme.
“Lucky’s not there,” Claire, Lucy’s best friend said, as she craned her neck to look out of the bus at the tree where Lucky usually waited for the school bus.
“He can’t be far away,” Lucy said, unconcerned.
Lucky wouldn’t be too far away. He always came to wait for the school bus. Sometimes he waited until she was almost passing the bush where he hid to jump out at her as she passed. He thought that was a great game. Sometimes she crept really quietly to see if she could get past him without him hearing her but he was always there, waiting and would run out purring and rubbing at her legs.
“Ohh,” Claire said, sadly sinking down into her seat, “I was looking forward to seeing him.”
Lucy grinned, everyone loved Lucky, especially Claire who had known the kitten since he had been a few weeks old. “You will see him tomorrow instead.”
Lucy made her way to the door. “See you tomorrow,” she called as she got off the school bus. Lucy waved to Claire as the bus drive away and then looked for her cat.
Lucky wouldn’t be far away, she was sure of that. He was always there to meet her from the bus.
“Lucky!” Lucy called, scanning the trees at the bottom of the drive. Lucky must be in one of the trees hiding, waiting to pounce on her as she walked the short way home.
There was no sign of Lucky in the tree branches. Lucy squinted into the evening sun in case he was lying hidden amongst the trees, but he wasn’t.
“Lucky!” she called again, crouching down to peer beneath the bushes.
Lucky could be there, waiting, bunched up like a coiled spring, waiting to leap out and grab her shoe to surprise her. But there was no sign of him.
Lucy tried to ignore the feeling of panic that grew in the pit of her stomach, Lucky had to be somewhere. But there was no sign of Lucky anywhere on the drive.
Lucy walked around the garden, trying to keep her voice calm as she shouted her cat. But there was no sign of him in the garden.
He was probably in the house, Lucy told herself opening the kitchen door. The rocking chair where Lucky sometimes slept was horribly empty, the round shape of her cat still clearly defined in the faded cushion on the chair.
“Mum, where’s Lucky?” Lucy asked as her mother came into the kitchen with an armful of flowers she had gathered from the garden.
“Not sure,” Lucy’s Mum said, frowning as she thought about the cat, “I’m not sure when I last saw him…… maybe this morning?”
“He’s not in the garden,” Lucy said, she could feel her chin wobbling as she tried to stop herself from crying.
“We’ll have a look upstairs,” Lucy’s Mum said, gently taking Lucy’s shoulders and giving her a gentle hug, “he’s probably on your bed.”
Lucy went upstairs, there was no getting away from the horrible numb feeling that seemed to lie in the pit of her stomach.
He would be lying asleep somewhere, Lucy told herself as she went upstairs and pushed open her bedroom door. But it was empty, there was no sign of Lucky.
It was the same in her mother and father’s bedroom and in the guest room. No sign of her cat. Sadly, Lucy went downstairs. “Mum,” she said quietly as the tears began to roll down her cheeks, “Lucky’s gone.”