Franny and I found each other seven years ago in Brooklyn. Walking home along a busy main street, I came across a man with a rickety cardboard box at his feet. Three little grey cats hunkered down inside; two were just-born babies, and one was a delicate, shivering mother, stunted in her growth from having gotten pregnant when she was just a kitten herself. I picked the mother up. She buried her head in my shoulder, hiding in my hair. Knowing her babies would find homes more easily than she would, I brought Franny home. She was basically feral.
Even now, Franny is not an easy ticket. Skittish would be a kind description. She flirts with Craig when he has food in his hands, but otherwise, Franny’s limited her sights to me. Even with me, she’s got rules: I can approach her only under certain conditions; she can be brushed only on a certain rug; and though herding me to bed to snuggle is her day’s central pursuit, she will lie only on my left side with her back to me in a tight spoon.
In this position, I stroke her and whisper nonsense into the fur between her ears, all for the reward of her tilting her head back to look at me adoringly through half-closed eyes. Occasionally she’ll push that little head up to my mouth for a kiss, and when I’m incredibly good she will bestow a few licks to my fingers for positive reinforcement. And she will purr … the most relaxing, contented purr, a purr that resonates through me and soothes my every nerve.
This is enough. This is more than enough. But today, I got more. For whatever reason, when I lay down today for a quick rest and read, Fran hopped up on the bed and walked onto me. She looked directly and meaningfully into my eyes (a very rare thing for her to do, face-to-face) and then nudged herself into the crack between my arm and my body. And turned into me. The reverse-spoon! She propped her downy paws up on my chest, and purred herself to the point of sleep. Groggily, she sighed and lowered her head onto my neck. Little snores rumbled out soon after, and I put my book down, too thrilled to concentrate.
For seven years, Fran has been opening up to me, bit by bit. Her trust is hard won, but when she gives it, I feel like the luckiest person on earth.