I was on my own, sheltered only by the hard alley walls. Frosty winds blew in my pale face. Rays of light streamed from houses nearby, but they didn’t help me.
I huddled against my blanket, treasuring it’s limited warmth. Curled up, I closed my eyes.
I’d escape into my dreams where I’d always be safe.
It was dark, I was lost, and I was scared. Shadowed pines surrounded me like a thorny prison. I tripped onto the ground; mud spattered everywhere. I wanted to give up.
And then I felt a hand gently rest on my shoulder. Mother and Father stood behind me, smiling. I couldn’t help but smile back. Hand in hand, we walked back down a path that had once been invisible.
The campfire was warm. Paula, our cat, was curled up nearby. We never let Paula outside, but somehow it felt more natural with her around.
I gently sat down on a thick log, and laughed as my family surrounded me. I closed my eyes and smiled.
My eyes jutted open. The warmth of my family was gone: replaced by the gust I’d come to despise. I sighed. It was just a dream.
I couldn’t sleep after that. The vision was more real than my own life.
It was the first night that I spent awake outside. I saw things I hadn’t seen before. Lights, animals, people sleeping.
And then came a cat. Black with white. Green eyes. Like Paula.
I wondered how it got out here, alone.
The cat glanced at me, and leaped onto a ledge to sleep on. It seems like it liked the solitude.
Poor cat. It would never understand family. It would never understand the meaning of home.
At least I knew what it felt like to feel love.