New neighbours and a missing white cat… or was it?
Sarah was alarmed when she heard cries from the little boy next door. “Mum, Snowy’s gone! Mum, we’ve got to find him!”
Sarah emptied her wastebin and hurried back inside, thoughts racing.
Snowy was obviously the large white cat she’d seen her new neighbours struggling into the house with when they’d moved in just before Christmas.
And what a time to pick! Snow had fallen heavily for three days, and the removal truck had got stranded at the bottom of the lane.
She would’ve loved to offer a hand, but her brother was about to pick her up and take her to stay with him for Christmas.
“That poor cat,” Sarah muttered to herself.
“Maybe he’d been pining for his old home and ran away to try and find it…”
She couldn’t hear the little boy’s wails now, of course, but she imagined they were still at full throttle on the other side of the wall.
Losing a precious pet was hardly the best of starts in a new home. Maybe she should call next door, introduce herself and offer to help them search.
Or… perhaps the best thing was to have a hunt round for Snowy herself – after all, she knew the village like the back of her hand…
Sarah put on her wellies and sloshed her way down Church Street. The sun was actually warm, no wonder there’d been such a big thaw so quickly.
It would be wonderful if she could find Snowy sitting in a tree, scared to come down because, like all cats, he hated getting wet.
She imagined fetching him down, snuggling him inside her coat, and returning him to his rightful owners.
Mind you, she thought more urgently, she would have to move fast because although they were basking in winter sunshine now, the forecast was for another blizzard just a few days away.
When she got to the mini-mart, she spoke to Phil who was busy putting sandbags around the door.
“Any chance you’ve seen a white cat round here?” she asked.
Phil scratched his head.
“A white cat?” he said, frowning. “No, no cats of any size, shape or colour.
“They’ll all be curled up snug indoors, I imagine, sitting in front of fires or lounging on owner’s laps!”
“You’re right of course, but unfortunately the new people next door to me have lost theirs,” Sarah said.
“Well, I’ll keep an eye out – check my stock room and the shed at the back and let you know immediately if I find anything,” Phil assured her.
Sarah thanked him and went on her way. She searched ditches, soggy hedgerows, and any hiding place that might be tempting to a cat.
But as the sun began to dip lower in the sky and the winter chill returned, she felt forced to admit defeat and began making her way back home, sloshing through the puddles.
Then, as she reached the gate, her neighbours’ door opened and the mum and two children emerged.
Sarah swallowed hard – this was awkward. What should she say?
“Oh, hello, we’ve not met properly before, but I’m Sophie,” said the young woman, extending a gloved hand. “This is Angelica, and this is Zac.”
“And I’m Sarah,” said Sarah, smiling at their rosy little faces and feeling even more sad about their cat.
She decided it was definitely best not to mention it, so she said brightly, “Are you settling in all right?”
“Snowy’s missing!” Zac cried, staring up at her and almost making her feel she was responsible!
“Er…” Sarah faltered, but Sophie jumped in straight away.
“Oh, take no notice, I keep trying to explain to him that Snowy’s not missing – he’s melted!”
Sarah felt bewildered and obviously looked it.
“Snowy was just a snowman Zac and Angelica built the day after we got here – they’d never seen snow like it before!” Sophie explained, chuckling. “Zac thought he’d be here permanently, but this morning, with the sun and milder temperature, all that was left was a puddle with a carrot floating in it!”
Sarah felt relieved and foolish in equal measure. Fortunately, she was good at pulling herself together quickly.
“Well, if the weather forecast is to be believed, you’ll soon be able to have him back!” she said, smiling broadly. “There’ll be heavy snow by the weekend, and I’ll help you build another Snowy, if you like!”
Zac and his sister seemed delighted about that.
“Or, maybe you’d prefer to let them get on with it, and just come and have a cuppa with me?” their mother suggested in true neighbourly fashion.
“Oh, and I hope you like cats – our Crispin is rather a one for plonking himself on any available lap!”
“Oh yes – two of my favourite things, cups of tea and cats,” Sarah replied, very happily.