The street is lined with trees and paved with cobblestones. The old brownstones are covered in ivy and some have window baskets filled with flowers. This is a nice neighborhood, quiet and not too busy, still some people are on the street but not enough to make a commotion. A nice place to live.

People leave books on the stone steps of their stairs. I wish I could take time to look through them, but I continue walking. As I walk down the street, I avoid stepping on all of the sidewalk cracks as I walk. One… Two… Three… stop.

The garbage is moving, rustling. A tiny head pokes out. The kitten ‘s eyes are a clear green, looking at me and staring into my whole being and soul. I can’t shift my head or move my legs; I feel trapped by this curious gaze. You’re not supposed to stare at cats, I remember, they feel threatened when you do. With this thought I immediately blink multiple times. The kitten is still staring at me but now you can tell it’s thinking about moving away. I wonder where it’s home is. Maybe it’s one of the neighborhood cats that has made multiple homes. 

I’m not sure what to do at this point, so I decided to go into the bodega and get the kitten a can of food. The man at the counter looks at me funny, so I add a bag of potato chips into the cart. 

“Just this please.”

The man grunts.

I bring the food back out to the kitten; while I crack open the can, she looks at me incredulously. It makes me sad that the kitten would disbelieve that someone wants to help it. 

I lay the food down on the stairs and sit two feet away. As I open my bag of chips and begin eating, the kitten jumps down from the trash. She starts approaching me with caution, but slowly makes her way to the can. As the kitten eats I finally get a good look at her. She has a slender body, covered in patches ofbrown, white, and tan. The tip of her tail looks like it has been dipped in chocolate, and her ears are different colors. As she eats, her tail slides around in joy.

I sat there a while longer with the cat. For the first time in a while I feel so at peace. I don’t think about the amount of work I have to do, or the responsibilities I have. I just sit there eating my chips. 

When I finish the chips I fold up the bag into a nice square and place it in the trash. The kitten is almost done with her meal. As she finishes eating those last couple of bites, I take my phone out and take a photo of her. I want to keep the memory and feeling of peace that this kitten gave me. When the camera clicks she looks at me with disdain, as though she is a child whose mom is taking a photo of them.   

I throw out the can, say goodbye and go on my way. As I continue walking I feel sad; I didn’t want to leave her. I turn the corner and try to push her out of my mind. I don’t need another worry on my mind. Plus it’s not like I can do an amazing job looking after her. I can barely look after myself. But what if no one looks after her…? What if she didn’t find people to love her and keep her safe? My pace gets slower as the worries rush into my mind. After my breathing starts to race and I can’t catch my breath, I spin around on my heels and walk back.

Step after step, I walk quickly down the street. A couple more blocks and then I’ll be back at the stairs. As the brown stone comes into view my heart plummets. I don’t see the kitten. 

I feel so heartbroken and mad at myself. Why did I leave her? Why didn’t I help her? I sit on the steps for a while, the feeling of guilt wrapping around me like a fake hug. I try to manage the feeling of anxiety that bubbles up inside of me. I count my fingers five times and crack my hands. I push the skin back onmy nails and focus on the ants walking in a single file like down the sidewalk.

Eventually I pick myself up and continue my walk home. I look at all the garbage cans as I pass by them — hoping. I try to focus on something else, work… school… home… I look at the trees orange, yellow, and brown. The building numbers 107, 109, 111, 113… Don’t step on the cracks. 

I see people looking at me while I pass them. Do I have something on my shirt? As I look down I see two ears, they are different colors. I stop.

Happiness fills my body. I didn’t notice it but the kitten had found me—she was following me. She rubs against my legs and meows. Then she stands up stretches her tiny body and grabs my pants with her little nails. As though she wants to be picked up. As I put her up in my arms She rubs her head against my chest as we head down the street. I scratch behind her ears and rub her head. She looks up at me with those sea green eyes and does a little meow. Her breathing has slowed and she squints her eyes as she drifts off into sleep. I feel content that she feels relaxed around me, like I am around her. As we get to my apartment building the kitten perks up and looks around. After struggling to open my door we entered the tiny studio apartment. I set her on the floor and she immediately started exploring.

“It’s a little small, but I think we will be able to share, “I tell her

She looks up at me and gazes for a bit 

The time I spent with Bella brought me endless joy. Time slowed down and my shoulders didn’t weigh me down any more. After thirteen years I finally am able to move out of that tiny studio apartment, but I have to do it alone. I place her bed in the boxes and slowly watch the movers take them away. As I sit alone in the apartment, I manage to gather my emotions. 

“Goodbye Bella.”