Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2020 finalist, Chase Lojek! Chase finished 4th grade this past school year. The story he submitted is called “Raining Kittens” Our judges appreciated Chase’s “strong command of language and description.”
Lanka opened her tired eyes from her long nap in her nest, which she shared with her mom, in Sri Lanka. The eastern sky had a hint of red in it so she guessed it was sunrise. She was getting restless and as she stretched out her paws she felt the strong urge to climb something. She was always climbing random things, which drove her mom crazy. Lanka found a tree, or what she thought was a tree, and started climbing it the way her mother taught her. Once she got to the top, she looked around. Instead of green and bushy, the scenery was gray and rough with a burnt tar smell. She quickly realized she scaled up a house column instead of a tree. Lanka could not see her mother anywhere down below. She was so tired from all the exercise, she decided to take a rest and soon fell fast asleep on top of the roof peak.
Lanka was dreaming of her mom grooming her fur in their cozy den, purring and rolling slightly to allow her mom to reach the far side of her soft belly. Suddenly, she woke and found herself tumbling down the roof. Her tiny claws latched on to the grimy gutter, but then they slipped and she started falling fast towards the ground. Lanka, now wide awake and dazed from the fall, was looking up at a family of humans staring at her with their mouths opened. Her mother told her not to trust any animal that walked on two legs, but she could not run away or even move as her whole body ached from her plummet. The insensitive humans joked that it must have been “raining kittens” which Lanka did not find funny. They gently put Lanka into a small box that smelled like muddy sneakers, with a soft moss blanket. They filled what looked like a bottle cap with some milk and placed it next to her. Lanka didn’t want milk or a blanket, she wanted to be back with her mother again. Reluctantly, she drank the milk offered anyway because she knew that is what her mother would have told her to do.
Lanka was laying in the box, still stiff from her fall, examining the high walls around her. The humans were nowhere to be seen. She weakly attempted to escape by climbing over the sides of the box but they were too smooth and slippery. Soon, the humans came back and started petting her. They were discussing what to do with her. One human said, “She should go near the lake. She will probably find her mother there.” Then another argued, “If she goes near the lake, the alligators will eat her. She should go under that oak tree.” It went on like that for what seemed like forever. Finally, they decided to put Lanka under the mango tree, close enough to the house so her predators would not dare hurt her. Lanka was pleased, because she lived near here, and was sure her mother would quickly find her.
The humans carried the box outside and placed it under the umbrella-shaped tree. To Lanka’s surprise, they tilted it so she could stumble out when she was able to walk again. Lanka patiently waited for her mother for most of the day, but she did not come. After a while, Lanka scented the salty air and managed to find her way to their once comfy nest, but now it felt empty and cold. She desperately searched the area, following the scent down to the river, where the trail stopped. Lanka seemed to be all on her own now. She sat by the river feeling sad for herself and started to cry.
Before it got dark, Lanka’s legs started to feel more nimble and she made another attempt to explore. This time she tried to focus on finding food and a place to sleep. She did not want to go too far in case she could not find her way back. First, she went to the lake, but she saw a slithering alligator and quickly turned around in fear. Her mother told her alligators were not her friend. Then, she went to the red shed outside the house and was surprised to scent a stale trace of her mother there. Her mother never let her go near the shed because the foxes lived there, and foxes were not her friend. After the shed, Lanka went to the giant old oak tree near the fence. The scent of her mother was growing stronger. Lanka did not think about finding food or shelter anymore, she could only think about finding her sweet mom. Unfortunately, the sun was setting and with nightfall came new dangers for Lanka.
As darkness spread across the sky, Lanka felt tired, hungry, and alone. She was still sore from her accident and did not think she had enough energy to make it back to the old nest near the mango tree. She sadly found another tree where she thought she could safely spend the night. She made absolutely sure before climbing that it was indeed a tree and not a house column. Her legs and her heart hurt as she slowly inched her way up the tree.
When she passed over a hollowed out portion of the trunk, she was startled to see two eyes staring back at her. These were not just any eyes, they were her mother’s loving eyes. Lanka’s mother looked up at her with surprise and delight. She sprinted to Lanka and started licking her ferociously since her pelt was all ruffled up. Lanka and her mom were really excited to be together again. They made a nest, ate a fat mouse, and settled into their new home. Lanka told her mother all about her adventures with the humans and promised not to climb up any houses ever again.