Ashley smiled and tickled Ottie under the chin. “Oh, that’s so sweet. But I meant your real mother. You know, your birth mother. Your cat mother.”
“¿Mi madre biológica?”
“We thought so when we saw her,” I said. “She’s got your white paws and belly. She’s the only other kitty in town who looks like you.”
“Is that where you came to us from, Ottie?” Ashley asked. “Does your mama live on that street?”
Ottie bent around and nibbled at the fur on her hip. “No conozco a mi madre,” she said, looking up momentarily.
Ashley and I exchanged a glance, and decided to leave it alone.
We went into the kitchen and fixed our dinner. Later, after we’d eaten, while we sat on the couch watching The Invisible Man’s Revenge, Ottie came walking out into the living room. Before that I had seen her lying down on the windowsill in the laundry room, gazing out the window at something very far away.
She jumped up on the couch and settled in between us. “Mi madre y yo no conseguimos adelante,” she said, looking straight ahead at the TV.
I narrowed my eyes. After a second, I looked over at her and said, “Ottie, I don’t think that makes any sense.”
“Me disculpo,” she said. “Mi español es muy malo.”
“No problemo,” I told her.
“Mi madre y yo no somos amigos,” she corrected. “Cuando viví con ella, luchamos a menudo.”
“What did you fight about?” Ashley asked.
“Ella nunca me entendía.”
Ashley and I looked at each other. “What didn’t she understand?” I asked.
“Ella no aprobó de mi catolicismo.”
“What was her problem with it?” Ashley asked. “She didn’t want you going to church, or . . . ?”
Ottie shook her head. “Mi familia es protestante.”
“Which denomination?” I asked.
Ashley and I winced at each other.
“That’s tough,” I said. “So, is that why you left?”
“Sí,” she said, licking the side of one of her front paws.“Funcioné lejos para vivir mi propia vida.”
“Well,” Ashley said, reaching over to scritch Ottie on the top of the head, “I for one am very glad you found us on our steps that night.”
“Estoy también.” Ottie stood, stretched, and climbed up on Ashley’s lap. She walked in a circle a few times, then settled down and laid her head on Ashley’s tummy. She yawned and closed her eyes.
I smiled. If it wasn’t the most precious thing I’d ever seen . . .
“I hate to move her,” Ashley whispered, “but I feel like a dish of pudding.”
“I’ll get it for you,” I said, standing up. “I could go for some pudding myself.” I walked down the hallway to the kitchen. “Hey,” I asked, peeking back into the living room a second later, “you want me to crush up a couple Haldol, too?”
Ottie stirred. She looked up at Ashley. “Te amo, mama,” she said, then lowered her head and went back to sleep.
“Yeah,” Ashley said, looking down, stroking Ottie as she snoozed in her lap. “I think you’d better.”