It was dark in the kitchen. I stepped onto the cold tile floor.
Someone is looking at me.
I stopped there on the tile with the crack, turning slowly toward the door. His little eyes were looking in. All I could see was his head peering above the edge of the back door's window.
I bet he's cold.
He found us just after we arrived in SmallTown over a year ago. They always find me- cats. For the longest time I didn't know who he belonged to. Then one day at the mailbox two neighbors walked by with a sandwich bag full of food, calling his name, "kitty, kitty, kitty."
I learned who he belongs to (no one) and what his real name is (there isn't one.) These neighbors shared that they, along with other caring ladies, work together to care for this neighborhood stray. There are a lot of them in SmallTown.
Daughter named him. Everyone deserves a name. He is white with a few spots of brown and black, and could pass for the brother or at least the cousin of our last visitor. She named him "Milky" and it stuck.
He stuck, too. He shows up on our steps to say "hello" or "meow" as it were. Sometimes he lets you pet him for a short time. Sometimes he just runs away.
He always appears well fed. One early morning I saw the neighbor's garage door go up and watched as Milky darted out, ready for his daily adventure.
So when I caught this Tom peeping into my window, I knew he needed something. He mewed and mewed. I stood there and looked back at him from my warm kitchen. Then I committed the cardinal sin of stray cat caring. I fed him.
He lapped it up there on the porch.
Where will he sleep tonight?
I grabbed an old towel and warmed it in the dryer, then placed it on the wicker furniture. He sniffed, then scurried into the night.
At least he knows he is welcome here. I hope he'll be okay.
The next day I saw him in the field behind our houses. I called to him and he darted into the tall grasses.
Last night we waited for him to come back. I put food out again and found an old box for him to sleep in. It isn't the foot of my warm bed, but it can protect him from the wind. We said a prayer for him and for others like him.
He never showed. I can only hope that he found his way to a neighbor's garage or onto another cat lady's porch.
We'll watch for him on cold nights and rainy days. I'll offer food when he peeps into my backdoor. Other neighbors will raise their garage doors and let him in for the night. Some will put out fresh bowls of water.
His name is Milky.
He belongs to us all.