Bone-cold weather made Frank’s breathing rattle. The café across from the subway beckoned through the falling snow. If Maud were living, she’d order hot chocolate on such a day. Frank slipped inside stomping his feet.
“It’s starting to sleet,” the owner said. “Coffee?”
Frank’s fingers shook as he held the mug to his lips.
“Traveling for Christmas?”
The year since his wife died had been brutal. Christmas would be worse. Despondently, Frank looked out the window. A cat was huddled and shivering under a bush.
“That cat’s freezing.”
“A stray,” the owner said. “The widow across the alley feeds it sometimes.”
Frank remembered seeing the old woman once or twice.
Leaving, Frank scooped up the cat. It burrowed into his elbow. He crossed the alley and knocked on the door. A white- haired woman answered.
“Oh no, no” the woman said. “It’s an orphan.” She studied Frank’s face. “I’ve tried to catch it, but it won’t let me. How did you manage?”
“It was freezing.”
The woman clucked. “Charisma.”
“Beg your pardon?
“Charisma. You’ve got charisma.” Her eyes twinkled. “Christmas charisma.”
“You want the cat?”
“I can’t afford a cat. You keep her.”
“I, I, don’t ….”
“Oh go on. Can’t you see she’s taken to you?”
“I , I…”
“I’ve been calling her ‘Maudie,’” the woman said.
Frank was speechless.
“Tie a ribbon around her neck. For Christmas.”
Frank backed away. Maud‘s Christmas ribbons and wrappings were somewhere in a basket.
He probably could find it.
Copyrighted. Rachel S. Roberts