Chapter 2:

The Girl

"Nekofurenzu" (Feline Friends)

My alarm woke me and I turned groggily over in the dark to turn it off. I’d put up black blinds for my bedroom so I could keep the atmosphere quiet; no sunlight was going to disturb my sleep. If I was gonna’ sleep, I’d sleep till the alarm told me to wake up, not the sun. I didn’t feel Mewsy as I roused myself, but she usually got up pretty early anyway. It was 7AM now, Mewsy usually didn’t get home till 8 or 9ish.
It was Saturday, so that was one of the two days of the week we could work entirely at home because the printer store was closed downtown. I threw on a white T-shirt, content in staying in my boxers and flip-flops all day, and without combing my hair I walked into the kitchen. I noticed the fridge was open and expected to see Mewsy getting at the milk. She tried that a couple times instead of prowling outside, but I thought she was out of that habit. Either way, when I rounded the corner to the fridge, I didn’t see Mewsy. The fridge door was ajar, without anyone to catch in the moment of the act.
I closed the door and turned to the stove. Eggs and bacon seemed good this morning. I started the stove when I heard a knock on the door. I turned to the door and my brow knit. I hardly had any visitors, and even fewer who came so early. I walked to the door and peeked out the peep hole. My eyes grew wide. A girl I’d never met was standing at the door. I guessed she was a new tenant of the apartment complex, because I’d never seen her. I couldn’t imagine what she would want.
I opened the door, the chain keeping the door from moving beyond four inches, and said “Hello?”
“Hello? Mr. Jacobs?” The girl replied, peering along the crack of the door. She sounded younger, maybe early 20s, and was dressed for the day already, at 7 am!
“Yes?” I asked.
“My name is Natalie Shriver. I just moved in next door.”
Next door? Did people even move out of this apartment complex? I’ve lived there for almost a year and I never saw neither hide nor hair of any of the other tenants.
“Welcome to the complex, Natalie.” I said, trying to be hospitable. I still was standing at an angle. Thought I’d look weird in boxers and a t-shirt.
Natalie faltered for a second, then reached into her bag. “C-can, can I come in? I made some cookies; thought it’d be nice.”
On the other side of the door, I was pleasantly taken aback by Natalie’s gesture. Usually it was the already residential persons who gave greeting gifts to the newcomers. Guess Natalie just wanted to feel at home here. I removed the chain lock and opened the door enough so Natalie could see more of my face. Consequently, I could see more of her. Natalie was a very nice looking girl. She had a thinner frame, long black hair, and was dressed in some shorts and a sweater. Not a kind of sweater I was familiar with, but some sort of sweater. I don’t know, it’s a girl’s type of fashion; so I have no clue what they’re called.
“Could you give me a second?” I said, flashing a smile. Natalie opened up, I could tell from her demeanor, and nodded.
I walked to my room and threw on some pants and combed my hair a bit. Then I threw on a long-sleeved shirt for good measure and walked back to the front door. Natalie was standing with her back to the wall outside in the hallway, and came forward when I opened the door.
I smiled. “Please, come in.”
Once inside, Natalie immediately reached into her purse and pulled out a bag. It looked well-prepared; clear plastic with a paper plate of cookies at its center, held together with red string at the top. I smiled, taking the bag from her.
“Wow, this is very nice! Thank you.” I said.
Natalie grinned. “I’m glad! I didn’t have too much to wrap it with, but I did my best.”
Natalie had a very nice smile.
“This is fine, thank you,” I said, “I’ll make sure to share it with my cat.” I continued, more jokingly than anything.
Natalie didn’t seem to think so.
“You have a cat?” She asked.
“Yeah, her name is Mewsy-” I started to say, but Natalie interrupted me.
“You shouldn’t give this to your cat! It’ll get sick!”
I was a little shocked, long enough for Natalie to bow her head and turn to the door. “I’m sorry, I’ll go.”
“Wait,” I said after a moment, trying to compose myself, but Natalie was already closing the door. “Just a minute-”
Natalie had left, closing the door behind her.Bookmark here

Needless to say, I was confused.
I thought about what had just happened as I walked to the kitchen table, cookie bag in front of me. What made Natalie go off like that? Natalie acted like such a nice girl; she seemed a little lonely, but was a nice girl nonetheless. I turned to set the cookies down on the table, and looked up to see…
A small girl stood there, with auburn hair and brown eyes. She looked like she was six or something, and stood up to my waist in height. Her skin was really white, almost like Mewsy’s primary color. She had a brown dress on, one that matched her eyes. She just stood there, looking at me with a sort of goofy smile on her face but saying nothing. Something struck me as familiar about this girl, but, yet, there was absolutely nothing familiar about this girl! What was this kid doing in my apartment?!!
“Who are you?!” I said, dropping the cookies to the floor before I could get them to the counter.
The girl had the nerve to look confused. Then she spoke.
“Matthew, it’s me!” She said with a big grin, arms outstretched.
I blinked. My heart told me one thing; my brain told me another. This wasn’t…
“Yes! Yes, it’s me! Hi!” Then the girl jumped at me and hugged my arm, rubbing her cheek on my forearm. “I missed you when I patrolled the street this morning!”
“What?!” I jumped back, leaving this girl looking confused yet again, and held out my arms in protest. “Wait a second, what’s going on here? You say you’re my cat, and something about all this feels like my cat, but you clearly aren’t my cat! You’re a human being!”
The girl put a finger to her lip as though she was thinking, then said. “I don’t know how this happened.”
I nearly fell over. Really? This was getting way too ridiculous.
“Ok, out! Get out of my apartment! Get out of here!” I started shooing the girl, cat, whatever, out of the kitchen, but she protested the entire way.
“Matthew, please don’t send me out! I haven’t had breakfast yet! I really want the chicken today! Please! I didn’t even get to play with Nippy!”
Upon hearing the last sentence, I stopped. I had the door halfway open, my other hand on the girl’s back. ‘Nippy’, as I named him, was Mewsy’s catnip mouse. I know nobody would have known about that mouse…
Except Mewsy.
I paused, closing the door and standing back, still feeling pretty tense.
The girl turned, scratched her head, and nodded. Bookmark here

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