#SundayStories is back! Each week, for the next eight weeks, I’ll dive into the backstories and inspiration behind the shorts that make up my latest collection, When We Come Back.
First up is the opening story of the collection, “Lost Cat, Very Skittish.”
This is probably the closest I’ve come to writing something that could be labeled “inspired by a true story.” It was also one of those rare stories that came to me like flashes of lighting. It was all there in three flashes over the course of a few weeks.
At the height of the pandemic, I got in the habit of taking long walks around the neighborhood and the park and lake at the end of our street. In the spring of 2021, I kept passing signs for a lost cat where the desperate owner described the cat as very skittish. Not too long after, the owner posted in the neighborhood Facebook page a rant about some young boys who pranked called her on the number she had on the signs saying the most horrible things about her cat being eaten by their dog. I naturally wanted to know what was going through the minds of the woman who put up the sign and the boys who made that prank call.
And that’s pretty much the basis for “Lost Cat, Very Skittish.” Of course, all the characters and their backstories and fates are fictionalized, including the cat, who I turned into a Maine Coon. But those key events were true. Still, I struggled with how to end the story. Sometime later I was walking with my son down to the end of the street, and the sun was setting in dramatic fashion out over the lake. Down near the water in the golden glare of the sun I could see the silhouettes of people (some kids and an adult) and I was just struck by this feeling of, “Wow, just think about what we’ve all been through this past year, and yet here we are…still here…silhouettes against the world.” And there was the ending the story had been seeking.
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I just had to read the subject line to start smiling. Your stories always stay with a person, and Lost Cat, Very Skittish is a great tale(or tail). As a person with many barn cats, I greatly empathize with that cat!
Thanks for being a bright spot in the day.