It was not your ordinary high school emergency.
But what it lacked in juvenile delinquents, it more than made up in juvenile drama.
The juvenile in question was simply crossing the street. She was not cutting class to go to Starbucks; she was not sneaking off to smooch the Earth Science teacher; she was not making off with the rival school’s mascot.
She was probably just getting some grub for her babies. (Very possibly from the Starbucks dumpster; and, come to mention it, her baby daddy very well may have lived close to the earth. But I digress.)
But our juvenile never made it that far.
Before the baffled eyes of a teacher, the teenager was smashed by a car going entirely too fast for a school zone. The car — picture it as having those narrow headlights that look like evil eyes — kept going. The teacher ran into the street.
The juvenile was broken.
Protective teacherly instincts on full blast, the teacher scooped the shattered youth into her arms, ran back into the building, and went to the highest authority she knew for all teenage trauma: the high school principal.
The principal — picture him as Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell — reacted in a reasonable way. Eyes all huge and horrified, he sputtered, “Hey, hey, hey, what’s going on here? I don’t know what to do in a situation like this!”
He wasn’t incompetent. He wasn’t shirking his responsibilities to his students in their time of need. He wasn’t a bumbling arse.
He just didn’t know what to do with a car-clobbered cat. As you’d probably guessed already, our juvenile was feline.
Mr. Belding may not have known what to do, but Providence did. Through a happy series of circumstances, the juvenile became June, and June came to Tabby’s Place, and by June (the month), June (the cat) was ensconced as “our other paraplegic.”
But juvenile June — eight months old, sparkling as obsidian, just recently nursing kittens no one could find — was not busting out all over. It was springtime, sure, but June was in no mood to bloom.
Could you blame her?
As best anyone could tell, June had never been handled by humans before that fateful day in front of the high school. Still a teenager herself, she was just doing the best she could to raise her brood and elude unsavory characters of all species. Everything changed with one mean-looking narrow pair of headlight eyes.
And now she was expected to let us love her and squeeze her and express her bladder (which is to squeeze her again, of course, in a most Instagram-unworthy way).
June tolerated our ministrations. She sat quietly in the back of the room, taking notes on our dubious affections, handing in her homework on time every day, but opting entirely out of “class participation.” Her eyes were round and worried enough to take in seas of semesters at once, but she never eye-rolled or acted out or toilet-papered our houses.
She simply squealed and shrieked and scrambled under our desks. Just let me be. Just let me shimmy beneath the radar. Just let me graduate and never have to think about high school again.
But if Tabby’s Place is high school, senioritis is a chronic, chronically awesome condition.
And, all the way in October, June is learning to live with it.
I’d be saying too much to say that June is gobbling up our love. She’s still about as interested in a smush-fest as she is in an oversized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (Both of which are ridiculous things to snub, but she’s learning.)
This October, though, June is openly dreaming in front of us. She’s playing, and blinking, and permitting gentle sloooow touches and — for the right people, in the golden hours — snuggles. (We’re looking at you, June-whisperer Ginny.)
It’s all good. There is no lesson plan here, no federally-mandated goals for the school year, no June left behind. We know that the uncommon core of June is entirely good and holy.
And we’ll love our way into those friendly-round-headlight eyes of hers until she sees safety reflected back.