C2 Isabelle - An invitation
Isabelle put the second pot of coffee on the stove and pushed her glasses up; they had a bad habit of crawling down. One of these days, she was getting Lasik surgery.
She pulled the stack of second-grade papers closer to review them. Her student, Evan, once again transposed his letters. It was the second week of the private school, but she'd already sent a note to his parents about getting him tested for any reading or learning disabilities.
Was it too expensive for his parents to get help for him? She tapped the purple pen on her table. If that was the case, she could offer extra tutoring sessions after school twice a week.
Once he improved, she could recommend a specialist in dyslexia and offer to pay half. She sighed. There was never enough time and money to do what she wanted to help kids. Otherwise, she'd have Evan in extra reading and writing classes, and Julie in spelling help. She would get Daniella assistance in math and something to bring her out of her shell, and Jimmy and Sam aid in penmanship practice.
Scratches and different meows at the back door made her pause. Two cats? She rose and opened the door, leaving the screen door closed. The humid September evening and a honeysuckle scent wafted in.
“Brought a friend, have you, Lucy?” She unlatched the door and let the stray black cat and its orange-striped friend with a missing tail inside.
Both gave her a meow while Lucy rubbed around Isabelle’s legs. “I told you not to brag that I gave you a can of tuna.” She untangled herself from their tails and went to her pantry. “No more guests, Lucy. I'm not going to end up single with fifty cats, okay?”
A meow answered her from the newcomer.
“Patience.” She pulled out another can. Good thing these had been on sale. “Last one, okay. I’ll pick up dry cat food at the store later.” God, she was going to turn into a hoarder of cats, wasn’t she? Her tombstone would read: A woman who couldn’t turn away animals and died, giving all her food away to five hundred strays. She chuckled and opened the tuna.
The cats’ meowing grew more frantic, and she emptied the food onto two plates, setting them down. Each animal dove for the food and soon ate it all, their plates scraping across the floor as they continued to lick them clean.
Isabelle rolled her shoulders back. “All right, you’ve had your dinner, time for mine.”
Her cell rang and she grabbed her purse. Maybe it was the bank returning her call about the loan. Student bills from when she went to college to get her degree were a pain. The interest alone was too much for her budget and she could never get the balance to go down. She clicked the answer button.
“Hello?” she said out of breath.
“Izzie. I mean Isabelle!” her younger sister Beth squealed. “You sound winded. Are you entertaining?”
When she was a kid, Izzie was fine, but not as an adult. Isabelle glanced down at the new orange cat…he was her first male visitor in months. Before that, it was a plumber to fix her disposal. “What's up?”
“Are you busy tonight? Oh, and grading papers and tossing bird seed in the park doesn't count.”
Isabelle picked her thumbnail. “I've really got a lot to do tonight.”
“No, you've got to get your groove on with us. It has been forever since you went out with us.” She could almost hear her sister's pout.
Yeah, last time both her sisters had gone home with a guy leaving Isabelle, their designated driver, sober and going home alone.
“Please? We haven't seen you since Christmas at Mom's eight months ago.”
She bit her lip, debating. On the table, a stack of her students completed assignments waited, but it had been a while since she had fun. “I’m really busy…papers to grade and I’ve got to go over my lesson plan for the week.”
“My sister the celibate. I’ve heard the Saints are in town and we’re going to their favorite hangout place.”
Damn, her sister knew her too well. The Saints were her favorite team and she’d had a crush on several of the players for years. She was going to have fun if she went, not like last time. “Only if we take a cab. I'm not yours and Kate's party chauffeur.”
“Deal!” Her sister shrieked forcing Isabelle to hold the phone away from her ear. “Okay be ready in an hour, ‘k?”
“Sounds good. See ya soon.” Isabelle hung up. Yeah, she was not going to end up the old cat lady with five hundred animals as her only companions. The two cats lay on her kitchen floor and groomed themselves while they purred. “If this ends badly, I'm blaming you two.”
They both stared up at her for a moment, then resumed their self-cleaning.
Less than an hour later she was showered and dressed in a maroon mini skirt and black glitter halter top. The price tag poked her arm and she jerked it off. She rolled her caramel colored hair in hot curlers while she put on makeup.
Excitement jittered through, her stomach doing flips. Something good was going to happen tonight. She could feel it like she had that time she won the fifty dollar scratch off.
She transferred her wallet, keys, and lipstick to a small sequined black purse. Her hair curled around her shoulders perfectly and she fluffed up her bangs.
When a car horn beeped, Isabelle opened the front door, letting both cats out. “Don't wait up for me, guys, I hope to be very late tonight.”
Overhead, lightning flashed in the distance and a tingle ran through her. Something awesome was going to happen tonight; she could feel it.