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A Tigerís Love

by 

Howard Tooley

Everyone needs friends. Someone to talk to, share moments with, or just hang out with. Itís a proven fact that friends are good for the soul, and that is why everyone should have one-- no matter who you are or what you look like. Unfortunately for some, friends come few and far between. Just because some people may not act the same way as others or wear the clothes that are in ďstyle,Ē people ignore them, tease them, and just make them feel so alone. 

Itís a rough life, especially to an eight-year-old kid in the second grade who feels as if he hasnít got anyone to talk to. I always considered myself as a regular eight-year-old kid. When I compared myself to my classmates and peers, I pretty much averaged in with the rest of them. I was about the same height and same weight, just your average Joe  in the second grade. Although when I really thought about it, I knew there was something different. Everyone had a friend, but me. Itís not that I didnít want friends; itís just that they didnít want me, I guess. I used to dread school, not because of the work, but because I knew it would just be another lonely seven hours of watching others laugh, play, and talk with each other. I always tried my hardest to look likeable and ďcool,Ē but it never seemed to pay off. I told myself that maybe it was the way I looked, or the clothes I wore, but I couldnít fight the feeling that maybe it was 
just me.

I know my parents could tell how I felt, and they tried to help. They decided that maybe if I had a pet of my own, I could be happier. I half-heartedly agreed, hoping that it might help, but knowing that it would probably be to good to be true. We took a trip to the county humane society; which is where I hoped to find my wonder cure. I wanted a cat for reasons I donít know. Cats just appealed to me more than dogs. We looked 
at cages and cages of tiny little fur balls, but I just didnít see any of them that I wanted. They were all cute, playing with each other and chasing their tails, looking innocent as most kittens do. Even though I hadnít a clue of what I was looking for, I knew it wasnít any of these. As we approached the last of the cages, there he was. Sitting in the back corner of the cage, and looking straight at me with the biggest, loneliest eyes I had ever seen, was a small orange and white calico kitten. He was the one I wanted, and I knew it. I felt that it was almost as if he was going through the same thing I was. I barely pulled him out of the cage before he jumped up on my shoulder and gave me one little lick on the top of my nose. I do believe it was love at first sight.

Through the months, Tiger and I developed quite a friendship. He would follow me everywhere and never left my side when I was around. I would talk to him and he would watch me, ears perked up, as if listening to my every word. He would snuggle down at the end of my bed when I would go to sleep, and cuddle in my arms when I was having trouble sleeping. We would watch TV together--me on the couch and him in my lap. He would come with me to school and wait outside till I came out for recess, and then we would go to the playground and go down the slide or play in the sand. We would catch 
insects, and put them in a little cage my parents gave me. Everyone loved him, and they would come up to me to play with him. I was so excited that people were actually speaking to me and asking me to play with them. I never knew that school could be so fun. Tiger wasnít just a cat; he was my friend, my best friend.

As time went by, I came to enjoy the change that Tiger brought about. I was invited to parties, questioned for advice, asked to play games during recess, and I even had a secret admirer named Wendy. I just couldnít imagine things getting any better! Then my parents came up to me one day announcing that we were going to be moving to a different neighborhood. It didnít really bother me, though. It was just a different house, not a new city or state. I could still keep all my new friends, and especially Tiger. 
I realized then that I hadnít seen Tiger at all that day. It was really strange because he usually wasnít but two feet behind me. I asked my mom if she had seen him, and all she told me was that he had run out the door that morning and she couldnít catch him. I was beginning to worry; he really wasnít an outdoor cat. 

Hours turned into days, days turned into weeks and still there was no sign of my best friend. Moving day came, and as I packed everything into the truck, I called out his name one last time. There was no answer. I left a bowl of milk out in case he did come back and he was hungry. As we were pulling out of the subdivision, my dad stopped the car and got out. He said he had seen something on the side of the road. 

Curious, I jumped out of the car before my mom could grab me and ran up to where my dad was standing. I looked down and there lying on the edge of the road was the lifeless body of Tiger. Instantly the tears rolled down my chubby, red cheeks as I realized my best friend was gone forever.

It was a long ride to the new house. I sat in the backseat, quietly sobbing to myself. I recollected all the times we had spent together, and all that this little kitten had done for me. I know it may sound crazy. 

Itís just a silly, old cat, right? Wrong, he was my playmate, my supporter, and my companion. He taught me how to like myself, and have others like me too. I would miss him always, but I wasnít going to let his life go to waste.

The next day at school everyone asked me about Tiger. I told them that he was gone, figuring he was the reason everybody had started to like me. To my amazement, nothing changed. People liked me for who I was, and I owe it all to a small, cuddly, orange and white calico kitten named Tiger.

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