Princess Sparklemittens

“Breaking announcement from the White House!” The emergency broadcaster’s voice crackled over the radio. “The First Daughter has lost her kitten. Everyone is to stop what they are doing and look for Princess Sparklemittens. She is a grey, short-hair tabby cat. She was last seen wearing a pink collar with a purple bell.” The broadcaster repeated the message several times before the line went dead.

Karen, a middle-aged woman in a one-piece skirted bathing suit clapped her hands, signaling all of the children that it was time to come out of the water. “Jenny, you take the little ones back to the house. Keep them entertained while the rest of us search for Princess Sparklemittens.”

“Yes, Auntie,” Jenny said. She gathered a baby on each hip and then had the toddlers form a single file line as Karen began to organize search crews.

* * *

The President paced the oval office. “I should be out there, searching for Princess Sparklemittens. What are we going to tell Sophia when she wakes up from her nap if she hasn’t been found?”

The Vice President clasped the President on the shoulder. “We’ll find the damn cat, Sir. You have more important things to be worrying about right now.”

“But you know what happened the last two times Princess Sparklemittens was lost. We nearly didn’t find her in time.”

“That is why this time, we’ve engaged the entire county in Operation Tantrum. Somebody will turn up the cat. We’ve never let you down before, have we?”

The President massaged the bridge of his nose. “No, you’re right.” He pressed the intercom button on his desk phone. “When Princess Sparklemittens is found, I expect to be notified immediately—no matter which foreign dignitary I am currently meeting with.”

* * *

The sun began to dip in the sky. Karen paused to wipe dripping sweat away from her forehead. She sat by the radio in a rocking chair, hoping to hear a broadcast that would announce the First Daughter’s missing kitten had been located. She glanced up at the crunch of gravel. Little Tommy—her cousin Mary’s eldest child—came running up the long drive.

“Auntie! How much longer do we have to keep looking?” He flopped down onto the wooden porch steps by her feet. “I’m hungry.”

“Out there somewhere is a kitten that is scared and alone. I bet Princess Sparklemittens is also hungry, so you be a good boy and keep searching for her. You can have your dinner when somebody finds her.”

“Why would the kitten even be near us anyway?” the boy demanded. He pulled his shoe off and shook loose a cascade of small stones. “Why didn’t the announcer say where the kitten was lost? It would make this search a lot easier.”

“Hush,” Karen chided. “Put your shoes on and go look for that cat.”

Tommy replaced his shoe before pulling off and upending the other one. Once both shoes were on and laced, he hopped to his feet. “I’ll go tell the others to keep looking, then.”

* * *

“Sir,” the President’s assistant said, poking her head into the board room. “There’s a call for you on line six. It’s an update on Operation Tantrum.”

“Excuse me,” the President smiled apologetically to the French ambassador. “I have to take this—nap time is almost over, you see.” He picked up the phone, dialing into line six. “Hello? Yes, I see. That’s not good at all. I understand. Please inform the VP to proceed with emergency protocol seven dash two.” He hung up the phone. “I apologize for the interruption. Where were we?”

* * *

Tommy had a tiny bundle wrapped in a shirt as he ran up the gravel road. His father followed at a more sedate pace behind him. “Auntie Karen! We found Princess Sparklemittens!” He tripped over his feet, falling to his knees, but managed to keep the bundle clutched to his chest with one hand while the other shot out to balance himself. He pushed himself upright, gravel sticking to bloodied knees. He brushed it off and kept running up the drive.

Karen held her hand out for the bundle. “Let’s see the cat.” She inspected the tabby, frowning. “The cat is quite filthy and there’s no collar. Are you sure this is the right one?” Tommy nodded emphatically. “Well then, I’ll call it in to the station. You go clean up and have Jenny make you something to eat.”

* * *

A rusted pickup truck pulled up to the White House gates. When the security guard heard the pitiful mews coming from the box on the front seat, he waved Karen through. She parked the car and lifted the freshly washed tabby cat from the box, walking up to the front steps.

The President jogged down the stairs as she approached. “You have Princess Sparklemittens?”

Karen held up the tabby. “We have a cat that fits your description—though she seems to have lost her collar.”

“We have more collars—that can easily be fixed. May I see her?” He took the cat, inspecting her. “Close enough. Thank you for your service to your country.”

“So, this is the missing cat? How did she make it so far?”

“Whoever this cat was before, now she’s Princess Sparklemittens—fourth of her name.”

At the age of six, Eliza was certain of two things. The first was that she had stories to tell. The second was that she had no talent for illustrating them herself. Talent or no, she still wrote and illustrated her first book, one that should be located and locked away if only to prevent her parents from embarrassing her terribly by showing it off alongside baby pictures. Now she spends her days writing stories that she isn't embarrassed to show off after a little bit of polishing.


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