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  • Writer's pictureTina

I Run

The overly bright light blinded me. I had been found. My safe and secure hiding place had been discovered, and for a moment, I was frozen in fear. The guttural growls and frightening howls commenced. The pounding of racing feet vibrated in my bones. I lowered my head and ran for my life. I leaped over fallen trees, dodged low-hanging branches, and dashed through bone-chilling puddles, hoping to lose my attackers. If only I could find safety and respite from these ghouls. Their screams frightened me, and my senses were honed to one thought: escape and survive.

The world I live in is filled with dangers and perils. However, my world becomes even more dangerous on Fridays that fall upon the thirteenth day of the month. Why am I hunted? I don’t know. I merely want to live a peaceable existence. I mean no harm. I am not capable of ill will. I have no malice towards any creature. However, every Friday the Thirteenth, I am haunted and hunted by these fiends with no reprieve. My lungs are burning, my heart is beating so hard I think it might explode, I can’t catch my breath, and yet the fiends keep coming. I cry out in anguish and fear, but they laugh at my cries.

As I run, I remember the good times. I remember being safe, feeling loved, having enough to eat, being shown affection, and giving it unconditionally in return. Those were good days, indeed. I wanted for nothing. My world was filled with laughter, love, soft touches, and abundance. Then, one day, my world fell apart. With no warning, I was taken for a drive; we stopped in a beautiful spot near a stream in the woods. One minute, I was safe and cared for; the next, I was alone, afraid, and so hungry. Nothing made sense. I could not understand what I had done to deserve to be abandoned. And so I waited. I waited for days, drinking from the stream, looking for food, seeking shelter and safety. However, there was nowhere to turn, no safe haven. I moved on out of necessity. And then the monsters came.

I found myself at the edge of a field. I cautiously made my way across the field. Being in the open was dangerous. Up ahead, I could see a large barn. If only I could make it across the field to the barn's safety. Perhaps there is a soft place to lie down, a warm meal, someone to help me. All I need is a bit of rest. I won’t ask for much but a safe place to sleep, enough food to sustain me, and a kind word. A kind word would mean the world to me right now. I cautiously peered inside the window of the barn. Inside, I saw through the dusty gloom a stack of hay bales. I could nestle into those bales, take a much-needed nap, gather my thoughts, and plan my next move. I heard friendly voices and saw lights glowing from the farmhouse's windows across the way. Just a brief nap, then I would make myself look as presentable as possible and ask for help. Surely, they wouldn’t turn away someone in need?

I quietly slipped into the barn and made my way to the hay bales. All was quiet; the only thing about was the dust motes floating in the air amongst the fading sunlight creeping in through the cracks in the barn boards. It was peaceful, blissfully soft, warm, and safe. I wiggled my way between several bales and went to sleep. There was a blanket of hay on top of me, a cushion of hay beneath me, and once again, I felt hope. I closed my eyes, believing all would be well once again. How foolish I was to think such thoughts, for soon the monsters would show themselves.

I awoke to darkness and a loud commotion just outside the barn door. As I sleepily sat up and peered from my hiding spot, the lights overhead came on; the doors slid open, and a breeze of chilled air cut through my warm blanket of hay. I shivered slightly and quietly stretched, flexing my legs and knuckles. Every ounce of my being was alight with hope. I quickly straightened my hair and arranged my continence so I looked appealing and non-threatening. I did not want to get off on the wrong foot. A group of young men entered the barn, laughing loudly. Their camaraderie was apparent and misleading. I thought I might introduce myself and be welcomed. However, once I stepped from the safety of the hay bales and made my presence known, I was greeted with a hearty kick to the ribs and admonished for being in the barn.

It was apparent I would not be welcomed or offered help. I quickly ran for the door, but it was blocked by two large bodies and four angry, thrashing feet. I spun and raced back to the security of the hay bales. I was hoping to catch my breath and find an escape route. I buried myself more deeply into the hay, forcing my breath to slow, my heart to cease racing, and my mind to clear. However, the monsters began digging in the hay, driving pitchforks into the mound and narrowly missing my leg. I screamed with terror as the safety of the hay was removed from atop me, and a small light showed on my face, blinding me. More shouting and stabbing with the pitchfork commenced, and I narrowly escaped the piercing tines. I saw a hole at the base of one of the boards and dashed through. I inhaled the fresh, cool air and breathed a sigh of relief. My reprieve was temporary, and I was spotted. Soon, my pursuers were fast on my path and running me down, shouting, “Get it! Don’t let it get away! We’ll give it what it deserves! Black cats on Friday the Thirteenth are bad omens! Quick! Don’t let it get way!”

So now, I run. I run for my life. I run from the monsters who haunt and hunt me, and for what? Because my fur is black? Because some fool, centuries ago, started a rumor based on fear and untruths? Will these monsters never evolve? Apparently not. So I run. I run from the actual monsters who make false accusations. I run from the ignorant monsters who use old wives' tales to their advantage for sport and cruelty. I run from monsters who justify their bloodlust with lies about me and my false motives. I am merely a cat. I am not a bad omen, a harbinger of bad luck. I am merely a living, breathing being with a soul needing comfort, care, and kindness. They say I am the monster. I am the danger. However, it is I who run from the kicking feet, the pummeling fists, the stabbing pitchforks. Who is the threat? Who is the real monster? You know the answer as I continue to run.

In honor of Friday The Thirteenth, I thought I would detract from the routine of sharing a recipe and instead share a short story. On this chilly Friday The Thirteenth in October, stay safe, be smart, don't buy into old wives' tales, don't harm innocent creatures, and don't prove your foolish heart by using superstition as an excuse for cruelty. Be a decent human, and of course, wash your hands.

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