Warning: Contains photos of actual teardrops which fell onto the pages of my diary. I then circled the teardrops and drew arrows to them with the word “teardrop” for good measure.
A story of two halves. We begin in May 1993, I’m 12 years old and after a lifetime of wanting a proper pet (fish don’t count) I’m about to get one.
I’d been asking my mum for a dog for AGES. Years. I asked for one every Christmas, birthday, Easter, bank holiday. I’d add the word ‘poodle’ to our shopping lists and hope for the best. It didn’t work. We were a single parent family with hardly any disposable income and the argument was always that dogs are expensive, and they're a big commitment, and who will take it for a walk? Duh - ME. And who will clean up after it? Duh - YOU. Etc etc.
And then. Mum met a man, and after a while the man moved in. And the man also wanted a dog. Mum was still not convinced. The man told me to be patient, he’d convince her. And then one day we heard news of a birthing nearby - but not of the canine variety. Five tiny kittens had been born just around the corner from us and were now old enough to be given away. That day. Immediately. Every cat must go!
As quick as you can say, “Pleeeeease Mum can I have one???” I was racing around to the house around the corner where, in the kitchen, two little kittens out of the five remained. Mum hadn't said “No” so I took that as a “Yes". There was a black one and a grey one. The grey one had lovely blue eyes and the fluffiest stripey coat and the cutest little face and I loved her and loved her and loved her and yes she was the one I chose. Using my imagination to full effect I decided to call the little grey cat ‘Smokey’. I picked her up and carried her home, and I was so so so so happy. A pet! A possession! A thing that was mine! Forever and ever and ever… only not.
Fast forward to October of that year. Smokey, now six months old and a staple part of the family and loved by all, even my Mum, didn’t come home one night. Or the next night. Or the next. Cats go missing for days on end don’t they, then they come back, maybe with a battle scar or a smaller deader animal as a gift. But Smokey didn’t come back, and we never found out what happened to her.
There was the odd ‘sighting’, a friend saying they’d spotted a kind-of-grey stripey cat somewhere nearby, and I’d go and wait around that area to see if it was Smokey, but it never was. When I was older I’d periodically ask my mum if Smokey had been run over and the news had been kept from me but she always said no. It was just "one of those things”.
(Funnily, a few days after Smokey came to live with us, she got ‘lost’. We couldn’t find her anywhere and I even went to the police station to report her missing. The sergeant on duty guffawed and told me that kittens don’t exist in the eyes of the law. Only horses and goats exist according to the police. I still have no idea what this meant. We later found Smokey sleeping on a pile of clothes in the bottom of my wardrobe.)
I hope Smokey found another family to love her as much as I did. A year or so after she disappeared we heard the news that another kitten birthing had taken place nearby, and I didn’t need the man (he was off the scene by then anyway) to help me to convince Mum that we should get one. And lo - we got two! Two little beauties. But that’s a story for another day.
Do you remember your first pet? (Reminder: fish don’t count) (Joke!) Feel free to write about him or her in the comments, whether the memory is happy or sad. If sad you could cry onto some paper and draw around the tears and label them too, if you like.
Quotes From My Teenage Diaries is an ongoing project as I re-read and reflect
on the diaries I kept from the age of 11 to 16.
You can read Part 1: BEST FRIENDS here,
Part 4: MY SOUL AMBITION here,
Part 5: MEATLOAF here,
Part 6: MARK OWEN here.
There's a Facebook page too and soon - I hope - there will be a podcast.
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