It was homecoming week, September 17, 2002. The high school building was wide open that evening with kids and teachers wandering aimlessly, some actually working, to decorate the halls for spirit contests for the upcoming football game.
The next morning several of us were visiting in the workroom before first period when we heard a faint little meow. Being the smart people we were, we all jumped up and exclaimed, "That's a kitten!" and set about, unsuccessfully, to find it. There was no way to know if it had just walked into the open building or some student had brought it and dumped it. At this point it didn't matter how it came to be there, and we finally decided it had somehow gotten between the walls because it was nowhere to be found. The bell rang and I went to my first period class. After first period I went back in the workroom to discover the sofa turned upside down in the middle of the room, the back fabric slit from top to bottom, and Coach David Wood, the same Coach Wood who would go on to take his team to the state championship in 2008, down on the floor, all six foot-two of him, with his arm buried in the back of the sofa feeling around for the mystery kitten, who was by then petrified and unwilling to be rescued.
I had to go back to second period. Time passed. Suddenly Michele Barton, the school nurse, rushed in with with this little ball of gray fur clinging desperately to her. Skinny, eyes matted, nose running, the kitten with a short crooked little tail was scared to death and holding on for dear life."Here, Alice, you take her. Look, she loves you," she said as she plies the kitten loose from her shirt and pushed her onto me.
Yeah, sure. This cat is scared to death; she would cling to anyone who made her feel safe. "You take her, Michele. I have three cats already."
"My dogs would eat her.YOU take her," as she pushed me out the classroom door.
It was decided she would watch my class since she didn't have a class that period, so I can have the kitten checked out by the vet before taking her home. Off I went on this mission of mercy. Keep in mind this was homecoming week and that day was Hippie Day so there I was in full regalia; tie-dye T-shirt, jeans, sandals, hair straight and parted down the middle, big earrings, trying to calm this little cat as I drove to the vet's office, five miles out on the highway. I left her there and rushed back to school.
Back at school, Michele had everything under control. I slipped back into teaching mode, things settled back down to normal, and I didn't get fired for leaving class under emergency circumstances. Well, we thought it was an emergency. God bless small schools and small towns. I don't think this would have ever happened in a big school. We felt comfortable enough with each other to get this done without a hitch: the kids were on task, the kitten was rescued, and Mr. Jenkins, the principal, knew us well enough to know we had taken care of business without having to bother him.
The students were all aware of the story, especially my first and second period classes, and they asked for updates on the kitten from time to time. My other cats accepted her, and even my husband Bill, who was convinced three cats were enough, became her good friend.
And that is the story of how Sophie, the sofa cat found a home and now lives happily ever after with us.
Yes, this is the same cat. Her winter coat is a slightly different color. When she sheds off, her color is a prettier gray, like the first picture.