Ziva noticed Patches used to visit daily, however, it had been at least a week since the stray had come by. Worried, Ziva risked being late for work to look for the cat along the usual beach route. She spied a fluffy tail near a bush and ran over, it was another cat, basking in the sun, unimpressed by the interruption. Time was pressuring her to turn and leave for work, reluctantly she headed off.
Picking chicken saved for Patches she waited in the dimming light, the quiet evening broken by lapping waves in the distance, the occasional catfight from the beach. Sleep evaded her, eyes flickered from the ceiling to the clock waiting for dawn to break. Ziva squeezed herself into jeans, clothes were tighter, an issue for another day, she needed to find the cat. The air was chilly, making her regret leaving her jacket as she called for Patches, at least if the name was unfamiliar, Ziva hoped her voice was friendly. Patches lay shivering heated only by bonfire embers, weak cries objecting to Ziva’s handling, replaced by silence, the cat pawing at her t-shirt desperate for warmth.
The veterinary surgery, warm and clinical, took pride in caring for strays, they used goodwill donations to offer a substantial cost reduction, with the expectation the person bringing in the stray paying the balance. Money was an ongoing issue for Ziva, bills and social life, meant little remained for additional expenses, despite that, she handed over the fee to see Patches given the best care. Medication for fleas and worms, matted fur washed and combed, with significant objection, tests run checking for other issues, they concluded lack of suitable nutrition and care was the cause of the poor condition of Patches.
The initial reaction to her ordeal was to cry and hiss by the door, shooting under the sofa when Ziva approached and eating after Ziva went to bed. It was hard to watch, leaving her trapped inside for her wellbeing was cruel in Ziva’s eyes, but the vet insisted. Leaving for work was risky, Patches enjoyed scratching the sofa and Zivas’ budget would be insufficient to cover the cost of a replacement. Her worries were needless, Patches yawned, stretching her body, she rubbed her head against the armrest, dropping to the floor and headed to the food bowl.
The vocal, affectionate Patches was the perfect companion to welcome Ziva home. Neither were lonely, Ziva cuddled her new friend, she was worth every penny. In her new home, Patches relished the warmth, the foot of the bed her favourite spot to sleep. She would slip downstairs while Ziva slept, taking her fill of the dried food dispenser, knowing when Ziva got up for work, she could slip under the covers. Nothing like a soft warm bed and a fully satisfied stomach.
Patches was nervy near new people, Ziva had her friends over regularly, taking picnics down to the beach. They lit a bonfire on the beach, waded in the cool waters and danced. Ziva felt awkward talking to Elizabeth, the memory of her declining a date weighed on her mind. Laura remained annoyed with Ziva, her friend refused to share the reasons, instead, turning her back during the group conversation. That evening, rain changed their plan; ditching the pub crawl in favour of chess and competitive computer games under the watchful eye of the cat.
The following day Ziva wanted to try her luck at the Spice festival, Rylan boasted, claiming to have the blisters to prove he handled the heat. Ziva tempted her palate, sampling a few of the least spicy offerings in an effort to build her courage. Cautious, she approached the challenge, the first mouthful started with the smokey spices, coconut twisted into the rich tomato base sauce, the warmth tingled. The effect of the chilli blossomed, cancelling the initial flavour, the second mouthful was all heat, Ziva could taste nothing, lips burned, the curry was akin to eating fire. She spat the food on her plate, eyes welled up and her face flushed red, she could feel her body keen to reject the little she consumed. This was an evening of regret, it took days for her senses to recover and she could enjoy normal foods.