Catwalk

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The screen was blank.

The black curser blinked in and out of visibility, beckoning me like the distant light from a lighthouse.

I sat at my computer, but the commotion from the past hour cluttered my brain. Words. Words. All I needed were words to describe the unexpected event, and yet rolls of memory were all that seemed to replay in my mind.

I could see myself walking through the archway under the Sid-Richardson building and toward the library steps. My sandals shuffled instead of flip-flopped across the pavement as I readjusted my jean shorts, which were scandalously hiked up by the book bag’s steady bouncing against my back when I walked. In my peripheral vision, two students, a guy and a girl, huddled in front of the construction fence nearby, pulling something through one of the diamond-shaped openings. Curious, I drew closer.

Meow.

There, cupped close to the chest of the girl, was a kitten. Its ivory body reflected the bright Texas sun as a few stripes of grey broke through the white fur. The small, pebble-like eyes were only halfway visible under eyelids pulled down like shades to block the sun.

I could hear the voice of my reporting professor in my head saying, “Everything is a story.” I rummaged through my bag for some form of paper, pulled out my Astronomy notebook and started taking notes.

“I walked past and heard it meowing frantically,” Jordan Warnement, a senior kinesiology major, explained. “I turned to the guy behind me and said, ‘Do you hear that cat?’”

I frantically scribbled the details of Warnement’s description, and students began to collect around the newly found kitten. The ooh’s and awe’s of the spectators were quick distractions from my continuous questions as I tried to piece together the unfolding story.

Then, we heard another meow. This time, it was louder, stronger and coming from behind the fence. Several students and I peered through opaque netting to see what we assumed to be the mother cat pacing back and forth along the other side of the barrier. Travis Gauntt, a junior finance major, pointed out a small divot further down the fence, where we could return the kitten to its home.

The group of now five to seven students gathered around the opening. As Warnement knelt in preparation and Gauntt lifted the bottom wiring for the exchange, the mother cat darted through the gap under the fence and ran away.

Warnement was left with the kitten in her arms, her computer on the ground and a paper due in less than an hour.

Several of the observers dispersed to return to their noon classes, while the rest of us made a plan.

“We are going to hide her behind us and walk into the library, so she can print off her paper before class,” Gauntt said about Warnement.

Doing just that, we formed a discrete wall in front of Warnement and trooped into the library like bodyguards. The kitten rested in her hand behind a notebook covering as we all stood on edge by the printers, looking out for suspicious staff members at the “Information” desk nearby. Warnement quickly signed into the computer to retrieve her paper, and the following high pitched “weeee” “woooo” of the printer helped mask a soft meow.

After mere minutes, we exited the library as alert as we came in, mission accomplished.

Before we parted ways, however, I asked Warnement one last question.

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m allergic to cats, but I have a friend who is looking for a kitten,” Warnement said. “If she can’t keep it, then I’ll take it to a shelter.”

Warnement then disappeared with the kitten in hand, and as I walked away, I knew I had a story to write.