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100 Short Stories in 100 Days: In Which Fiona Finds Herself in a Pickle



Fiona realized she was in trouble.


Shortly after dinner, Tom walked out onto the concrete balcony that overlooked the northern part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. She always saw him there at this time of day. He held a silver Japanese tea pot full of filtered water that he poured slowly onto his beloved outdoor plant. Often, he’d talk to it. He called his plant Spike Jonze. Most evenings, Fiona would peer out from the screen door – if he didn’t close the heavy glass sliding door in front of it behind him - and today, she could smell the evening air as it drifted, still and dust-like, through the kitchen.


She liked to watch Tom do things. He talked to himself a lot. But often, he’d talk to her and she liked that the most. He had green eyes and would sit on the floor and pet her as long as she wanted.


This evening, Fiona was feeling adventurous. With her little gray paws, she started patting at the screen door. It felt weird on her claws. Sticky, but not. Tom came in from the balcony and, muttering to himself, walked quickly into his office. He had only shut the screen door behind him, so Fiona could still see out and smell the air. It was growing cool now. But she was determined to see what was on the balcony. She pushed against the thick screen, this time with both paws while standing on her hindlegs. As if by chance, one of her nails caught the mesh frame. Her paw was stuck.


TOM! She squeaked. TOM! TOM! But he wasn’t anywhere nearby. Worrying, Fiona kept trying to pull her paw off the awful screen door. Suddenly, as she swiped her arms to the left, the door opened. Well, this had never happened before!

She leaned down low, her little elbows pressed tightly against her sides, and smelled the concrete on the balcony. It was wet and smelled like moss. She jumped from the rubber welcome mat to the thick outdoor rug under the glass balcony table, careful to not step on the watery floor. It was all new territory for her. And the sounds! Fiona had never heard birds chirping like she did now. She padded over to the edge and looked down. It was a long way to the ground. She grew scared.


THUMP! The two doors to the balcony closed. She looked quickly through the glass and saw Tom walking back to his office.


TOM! TOMMMMMMMMMMM! She tried her best to roar. It hurt her throat, so she chirped while tapping a paw on the glass.


Nothing.


Is this what being in a pickle means? She wondered. Tom always said that, and she wasn’t sure what it meant, but it seemed like her current predicament was a pickle. Or maybe a pear? Maybe an orange? She sat by the doors, locked out of the apartment, with her tail securely coiled around her little body. He’ll be back soon, I’m sure. Fiona loved being hopeful. It was helpful in situations like this one.


The Denver sky was setting quickly. She’d never seen the sky before. Her head bobbed around quickly, bird-like, as she watched the big houses in the neighborhood reflect the setting late-summer sun. The orange of the sun reflected off the windows and roofs and they looked like they were on fire like little globes of burnt sienna against streaks of dark blue and silver.


She sat under the table on the balcony and began to feel sad.


Did Tom forget me?


As if by clairvoyance, she heard a rap against the glass door to the apartment. It was Tom! He quickly opened the doors and spoke loudly.


“FIONA! MY BUDDY! What’re you doing out here? How’d you get out here?!”


She meowed with the conviction that only a cat has. Fiona was so happy to see Tom and knew that she was safe again.


“How about a Churu stick, Noni?” Tom said softly.


They walked to the kitchen, Fiona’s kitchen, and had an evening snack.


I think I’ll stay in the kitchen, she thought.

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