The man's face was so pale that I thought that he might have lost blood just by looking at the girl's wound. He stiffly forced each leg forward, thumping them down clumsily with wobbling knees.
"Blood," the man whispered, "Oh dear God."
He stared down at the girl's ankle, not blinking. A few agonizing long seconds past before he was able to unlock his joints and kneel down next to her.
"What do I do?" the man muttered softly. He wringed his hands anxiously, as if he could squeeze the answer out of them.
I meowed impatiently, and turned back to my own task. 69. No! End. 9. 21. Agh! Why is this so impossible?! End. 9. 1... 1! Yes! I did it! I actually, finally did it! Send.
The man blinked when he heard the dial tone, peering down at me with renewed annoyance. "Stop messing with my phone," he scolded, snatching it away from me. "I have to call an ambul-"
"911. What is your emergency?" interrupted the operator on the other line.
A purr erupted from my throat. They don't normally pick up so fast.
The man was speechless. He looked at me, the phone, me, the phone, soundlessly announcing his awe. Clearing his throat, he spoke, "Yes. I found an unconscious girl. She appears to have lost a lot of blood through a gash in her ankle…"
I closed my eyes and relaxed then, curling myself up under my tail. You're safe now, whoever you are, I thought to the girl. At least one of us gets to be happy.
I reawakened to the sounds of wailing of sirens and tires skidding to halt in front of my alley. There's our ride, I thought, jumping to my feet.
A man and a woman swung the heavy vehicle doors open before getting out and slamming them shut. One went around the back to grab a gurney. The other went directly to the girl, binding her ankle and taking her pulse.
Orders were shouted between the two, and they would occasionally refer to the man with the toupee for information he didn't possess. There was a lot of Velcro strapping and continuous heartbeat checking before they finally hauled her into the back of the ambulance.
I bounded up into the car after her, carefully avoiding being stepped on.
"Hey!" the ambulance man shouted, "Someone get the mangy fleabag out of here!" I gave him a reproachful look. I didn't have fleas. But he was right in thinking that I didn't belong.
I slinked away from him, and prepared to jump out of the ambulance.
"He's the girl's cat," toupee man told them, interrupting my retreat. "He went and found help- me- when she got like this. He even dialed 911 on his own. I think it's better if he stays."
Right. I am a good cat. I blinked my thanks to toupee man and ran back under the gurney. But even while I settled down, I wondered to my self- But am I HER cat?
It's true that whatever Akito does to me on these sorts of days cannot be reversed until I return home. Ordinarily, my main focus is regaining my human form, but if I stayed… I could be a cat forever.
After seeing the kindness in the girl's eyes... I couldn't say keeping four legs and a tail would be so bad. Maybe, if I stayed with her, I could be happy. Maybe…
It was foolish to let myself think such things. She wouldn't want me. I'm the cat. The one who was tricked and shunned, the one who nobody likes to be near. Even without knowing my background, she'd eventually find my inner atrocity. It's only ever a matter of time.
"Where," a soft voice slurred, bringing me out of my self-pity, "Where am I?"
"She's awake!" the ambulance woman declared. She's okay! I thought, relieved. My purr started up again. She's awake!
"What is your name? Do you have any relatives we should contact?" the man immediately questioned.
"My name... I'm Torhu," the girl whispered, "Torhu Honda." She paused, looking around her. "Is this an ambulance?"
The woman laughed. "Yes dear," she said, "Now, maybe you could give us your parents names? Phone numbers?"
"I never met my father," the girl whispered. She took a shaky breath before adding: "My mother died last month."
Silence descended in the vehicle. I bowed my head in remembrance, feeling the swaying car beneath me. Poor girl. No. Poor Torhu.
Finally, the man spoke again, "Is there anyone else I can call? A sibling, a roommate-"
The girl sighed. "There is always my grandfather."
"What's his number?"
"I would hate to disturb him. Besides, my stepfamily sent me here so I would be out of the house." She bit her lip. "I'm not hurt so bad that I can't just find my own way home, am I?"
I laughed quietly at her, but with the vocal chords of a feline it sounded more like a coughing fit.
"Oh yes, I almost forgot about the ma- cat. I almost forgot about the cat," the ambulance man muttered.
"The man who found you said you were saved thanks him," the woman added enthusiastically, obviously glad for a change of subject.
"Cat?" the girl asked.
In reply I removed myself from under the gurney, and jumped up onto her arm. I nosed her gently, looking into her eyes; I willed her to recognize me.
"Oh, you're the cat I saw in the alley," she proclaimed fondly, "Saved my sorry self, did you?"
I purred louder, and curled up in the crook of her arm. "You are precious, aren't you?" she cooed, petting me through the blanket.
For that blissful moment, I thought everything might finally turn out alright.