Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 29

“And I told Craig to bring me straight home.” It was the next morning and Cally was furiously recounting the events of the night before to Marna over coffee and toast in her kitchen before they got down to their day’s routines.

Marna chewed faster and swallowed her last mouthful.

“So you walked out on him?”

“Well, I wouldn’t put it quite like that,” Cally protested crisply and saw Marna quirk an eyebrow at her.

“OK, so let me put it another way. Someone broke into his place, and he hurt his already injured leg trying to see them off, and then he had to watch your brother play the hero because he wasn’t fit enough to do it himself. And then you were all up half the night reporting it to the police, so he must have been exhausted as well as being worried to death and in pain. And then you walked out on him.” Marna tipped her head on one side. “Does that about cover it?”

Cally felt herself bristling.

“You’re taking his side?”

Marna reached out and patted her arm.

“Cally, I’m trying to see it from both sides. But I don’t think you’re seeing his point of view at all.”

Cally took another bite of her toast and chewed thoughtfully, mulling over Marna’s words. The way her younger friend had described it made her seem hasty and unsympathetic.

Marna rose to fetch the coffee jug from the machine on the worktop and at a nod from Cally topped up both mugs.

“I’m not criticising you, Cally. You’re right – he isn’t great at remembering to phone, or when you have a date, and his business may well be having an impact on yours. I’m just saying that for a guy like Tim, used to being the action man, having his girlfriend see him at his weakest must have been tough.”

“I suppose,” Cally conceded, knowing in her heart that Marna was right.

“So what are you going to do?” Marna asked, meeting Cally’s gaze over the rim of her mug as she took a sip.

“I suppose I should apologise. Though it’s not all my fault.” Something in her wanted to wait to see if Tim would pick up the phone first for once. “But I could end up waiting for ever,” she mused, sadly wondering if this might be the end of their relationship.

“Anyway, enough about all that,” she said, giving herself a mental shake. “What will be will be, and right now we have more important things to think about – like what I’m going to do to give the business a bit of a boost. Any ideas?”

Marna turned her gaze to the window, looking out over the gardens that she and Cally both enjoyed tending and sitting in at odd quiet moments through the day. The animal pens surrounded them, and as the early sun rose, the cats were basking in its spreading warmth.

“To be honest I don’t think we have that much of a problem. Look at this place!” She flapped her hand to take it in. “It’s idyllic – a cat paradise. All we need is an open day to show everyone how perfect it is.”

Cally was nodding.

“I thought the same. We can invite all our current and recent customers and show them that the kennels have had no impact.” She shrugged. “It seemed to work for Tim,” she finished, and they fell into a thoughtful silence for a moment.

Among other things, Cally was mentally listing the shopping she had to do later, and an idea popped into her mind.

“What do you think of some kind of loyalty scheme? We could offer a free night’s board or something. I’d need to work out the economics of it, though.”

“I can do that,” Marna volunteered. “You know how I love my balance sheets!”

“I don’t know what I’d do without you!” Cally smiled at the girl. “You’re not thinking of continuing your travels yet, are you?”

Marna shook her head.

“I thought I wanted to see the world, and I may get that urge again, but right now I love it here. I never even think about leaving. It drives my mom nuts, to be honest. She thinks that if I’ve settled here, I might as well have stayed at home in Maryland!”

Cally smiled.

“You know what mums are like. I expect she just misses you.”

Marna began to gather their plates together and pile them on the draining board.

“I know she does. She still has my two brothers, but it’s not the same, is it? And I miss her. We’ve always been close.” She glanced up at the clock on the wall. “I’d better get to work. I’ll make a start on the litter trays, will I?”

“Thanks, Marna. I’ll be along in a minute.”

Cally watched the girl go, and yet again thanked her lucky stars for the day that Marna had knocked on her door looking for a job. Since then she had become a good friend, and felt almost like a young sister.

Marna’s wistfulness had touched her. She checked the clock again. Her own mum would be up, having breakfast. She might just phone her for a chat . . .

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.