Mandarin Orange, Kotatsu, And A Found Cat - Chapter 1 Cat In A Cardboard Box
“Well, if you’ll excuse me.”
I stood up from my desk, bowed, and walked out of the office door.
As I pressed the elevator button and watched the numbers on the door increase, there was a knock on my shoulder.
I turned around without effort and felt something stinging my cheek.
“Good work, Satou.”
“Yeah, you too.”
He is my colleague Sakakibara, who sticks his finger in my cheek and smiles.
We joined this company at the same, and we’ve been hanging out together for three years now.
When he retreated his finger that was still stuck in my cheek while I returned my gaze, Sakakibara peeked at me from the side.
“Satou, are you tired by any chance?”
“Of course you’re tired after working so hard all morning.”
“No, it’s not that. I mean, it’s only Wednesday and your eyes are already dead.”
“That’s none of your business.”
I was one of the first to board the elevator, and when I repeatedly hit the ‘close’ button, Sakakibara came aboard in a panic.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I was simply worried about you. If it’s nothing, it’s fine.”
“Thanks for your concern. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll talk to you about it.”
“Yeah, I’ll buy you that lemon soda.”
“I like that store, Greffle.”
I let the elevator’s unique floating sensation carry me away, and we get into a conversation about nothing of importance.
He’s usually a mild-mannered, easy-going guy, but he’s always thoughtful, which is one of the things I like about him. In the past three years, he has helped me out several times.
The feeling of floating stopped and the elevator doors opened. As I stepped out of the building, the freezing wind blew into my clothes.
“Whoa, it’s cold.”
I couldn’t help but shout and cover my mouth with my neck warmer.
It’s not a particularly cold area, but in winter, the wind gets cold and it snows.
It hadn’t been that cold yesterday, but it seemed to have gotten much colder in the middle of the night, and this morning it was a silver world outside my window.
Today’s weather has been cloudy all day. Thanks to the lack of sun, the snow that had accumulated this morning had not melted and was still covering the concrete.
“Well, Satou, better not catch a cold.”
Sakakibara doesn’t like the cold either, so he hurried home before it got any colder.
Sakakibara commutes by car, but I commute by train. The distance on foot is inevitably longer than by car, and I envy him a little this season.
The train was a bit disrupted in the morning, but by evening it had recovered and I was able to board at the usual time.
A few minutes on the train. I got off the train at the nearest station, where not many people get on and off, and went through the ticket gate.
It wasn’t falling at the office, but over here, there were a few white crystals fluttering down.
I pulled my neck warmer around my mouth again and stepped into the snow.
On the way back to my house, I found myself on a country road with few streetlights. There are some buildings, but they are all quiet wooden houses. The convenience store at the intersection ahead always looks out of place.
As usual, I bought dinner at the convenience store and started walking again with a plastic bag in my hand.
Today I bought some leftover pasta and two loaves of bread. I also remembered that I was out of canned food, so I bought a few cans at random.
As I crossed the traffic light and went through the corner of the narrow street ahead, I suddenly thought I heard something.
It could have been my imagination, or it could have been one of the noises from some house.
Nevertheless, for some reason, I stopped in my tracks.
I waited for the sound of a distant car to pass by, then listened carefully.
It wasn’t long before I heard the sound again.
The sound was quiet, perhaps absorbed by the carpet of snow, but it somehow felt like an animal cry.
Relying on my intuition, I moved from place to place and listened carefully again and again.
I heard a squeal more firmly than before. And its source was probably this alleyway.
In front of me was a gap between a large warehouse and the wall of a house. I slowly move my body into the gap, which is barely enough for one person to pass through.
I don’t know why I acted the way I did. My body was moving as if I had some kind of urge.
My clothes and pants scraped and caught on the wall several times, but I kept going deeper.
What I found was a small cardboard box.
I peeked inside, and what came into my sight was—
At the bottom of the cardboard box was a small blanket of sorts, on which a small white cat was curled up.
Its frail body was trembling badly, and it was purring once more as if it was clinging to something.
A little hesitantly, I took off my gloves and touched the cat. Her body was so cold that I could feel her shivering body directly on my hand.
According to the weather forecast, it was going to be very cold tonight. From the looks of it, the cat would surely be exhausted by the time morning came.
By the time I had gotten that far in my thoughts and imagination, my body was already in motion.
I put my gloves back on and gently pick up the cat.
I wrapped the cat in the neck warmer and a lap blanket from my bag, and held her as close to my body as possible to keep her warm.
With the neck warmer gone, I shivered as the cold air entered my neck, but that was not the point right now. I have to get home as soon as possible.
“Don’t worry. I’ll have you somewhere warm in no time.”
I threw the words I couldn’t possibly convey to the cat and ran out onto the snow-covered road.
I opened the door to my house and went inside.
It was an apartment room, but fortunately, this apartment building was pet-friendly.
I’ll have to talk to the landlord about the application tomorrow morning.
I turned on the lights in the room and sparingly turned on the heater to a high temperature.
I turned on the electric heater, which I don’t usually use, put a cat-shaped cushion on the sofa, and slowly lowered the cat onto it. It was a cat on cat.
“Is it warm?”
I took off my gloves and stroked the cat’s head, and it replied, “Mii.”
Her eyes were still closed and her body was still curled up, but her purr seemed to have more energy than when she was outside.
I tried to do my own things during this time, so I ate and bathed more hurriedly than usual.
Normally, I would watch a video on my phone to pass the time until I went to bed, but I didn’t feel comfortable playing videos while the cat was slowly sleeping.
I had no choice but to look at news sites next to the curled-up cat.
In the midst of all this, the kidnapping of a young woman came on the news and caught my attention.
Of course, it was a cat that I had picked up, and it had nothing to do with the kidnapping.
I just wondered if the cat had an owner.
It’s not uncommon for domesticated cats to be left without a collar, but seeing that it was left in a cardboard box, I think it’s more likely that it was abandoned.
I feel angry at the original owner for abandoning her like that in this freezing season, but what I have to think about is what will happen next.
I let my momentum carry me this far, but I don’t know if this is really a good idea.
Picking up an abandoned cat may not be a rare thing, but I’ve never had a pet before, and I have no confidence in my ability to get along with it.
That said, I don’t have a place where I can casually leave her, and it would be shameful to rely on others after having picked her up myself.
However, if you really care about your cat, it doesn’t matter how miserable you are.
However, leaving the cat in the care of another person may not always lead to a good outcome.
The more I thought about this and that, the more I couldn’t be sure that all of those conclusions would lead to this cat’s certain happiness, and the more denials piled up and never ended.
…And yet, for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
You don’t have the confidence to raise it yourself, but for some reason, you felt strong resistance to letting go of this cat.
“…What should I do?”
After much hesitation, I found myself asking the cat the same question.
As I gently stroked its head, the cat twitched its ears in response to my question.
Then, with her eyes still closed, she made a cute squeal and licked my fingertips with her tongue.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the sound of her voice as if she was answering my question.
“What are you saying?”
I stroke the cat’s head once again, my mouth smirking.
I’m still not sure what I want to do, but I think I want to stay with this cat for a little while longer.
There was no guarantee of the future, but if that was my intention, it seemed like the best solution.
So…just a little bit. I’ll have you go along with my selfishness for a little while longer.
“I hope we can get along.”
Thus began the life of a cat and me together.