Mariel had a fleeting thought – I was duped -- as she walked down the aisle at the animal shelter. She’d gotten a postcard with a picture of two adorable kittens sleeping in tea cups at a fortuitous moment. Her long-time beau had moved out and after a week that felt like months she’d realized that he wouldn’t be coming back. It was really for the best, but coming home had become something she’d dreaded.
That postcard had come in the mail and it brought a realization with it. She loved animals but Pete had been allergic to them, so she’d lived without, even though her heart swelled when she’d get to hold a cute little kitten. This would be something that she could have that she’d denied herself for a long time.
Now she was having misgivings. There were no cute kittens in tea cups here. The woman at the front desk had informed her that there were several adult cats. Kittens would be abundant in the next few months but there were none there at the moment. Mariel didn’t want to wait, though. She needed a reason to come home every night now. So, they’d headed off to the cat barn.
She hadn’t been prepared for the walk though the dog kennel however. The racket when they’d stepped in had been deafening. After a few moments the din had died down and they started their walk through. Mariel told herself not to look. It was an impossible command to follow. She heard a soft whine and turned to see a speckled border collie gazing at her with eyes seemed too keen. She slowed her pace. Then she made eye contact with a dog that didn’t bother to get up. His black coat was dull and his eyes looked infinitely tired. It struck a chord with her. She couldn’t walk past. Before she knew what she was doing, she’d stopped and knelt in front of his cage. Her fingers wrapped through the wire. He thumped his tail on the floor once for her and he let out a sigh.
“The cats are just around the corner,” the woman told her. “Unless you’d like me to take him out for you…"
“Oh, of course,” Mariel answered as she straightened up.
They walked into the cat room. Surprisingly, there weren’t many cats there. Every one of them seemed completely indifferent to her. For some reason, the rejection brought stinging tears to her eyes. Was she that unlovable? She tried to swallow the lump in her throat. She couldn’t burst into tears here in front of a stranger. Her face grew hot with mortification.
“You know,” the woman suggested. “A lot of people these days find the right person at the dog park.”
Mariel blinked at the woman as she was startled out of her self-pity. Hearing the woman say it was almost like being given permission. She nodded at the woman and stood up.
She paused looking at the two dogs. She swallowed hard. How could she choose one? Words tumbled out of her mouth before she realized it.
“Do you think they would get along?” Her mouth formed the words without her permission.
“Actually, they were turned in together. The couple who had them divorced,” the woman told her.
The irony wasn’t lost on Mariel. It had to be meant to be. She signed the paperwork and walked out the door with two new reasons to come home, even if they didn’t fit into teacups.