Perfect Match

A Perfect Match is one of the children’s stories in my upcoming anthology.

Molly’s mom brought her work home with her- not stacks of papers to grade or business contracts to write, but a yodeling parrot, a three legged tortoise, and a boa constrictor that lost its appeal. She matched pets to people at the Pets for Families Animal Shelter. Mom placed the orphans in new homes, but first she needed to understand the creatures. She brought them home where they squawked and crawled and slithered. Mom listened and watched and touched. Before long, she’d find a perfect match.

“Are there angelfish you could bring home?” asked Molly as she cupped her hands over her ears. “They’re quieter.” The parrot yodeled through Molly’s favorite TV show.

“Mrs. Rast, will appreciate her,” said Mom.

And Mrs. Rast did. Arriving with her accordion, she played a snappy Swiss folksong, pausing for a yodel from her avian singer.

“Perfect timing!” declared Mrs. Rast. She toted her new pet home.

“Think about bringing a puppy home,” suggested Molly as she examined the tortoise’s shut up shell. “They’re livelier.” The healthy tortoise was born with three legs.

“Mr. Walker and our reptile pal will be compatible,” said Mom.

And they were. Mr. Walker patiently waited as the critter trudged forward.  

“Three legs like me!” said Mr. Walker as he tapped his cane indicating his third “leg.” He carted his new pet home.

“Is there a kitten at the Center?” hoped Molly. She peered into the glass tank at a boa constrictor.  “They’re cuddlier.”

“Mr. Gallo will value our slithery friend,” said Mom.

And he did. Mr. Gallo stroked his whiskers with paint stained fingers. Boa flicked his tongue in the air.

“Look at the intricate pattern, the sleek scales! He’ll inspire me with his natural beauty while I paint in my studio!” He lugged his new pet home.

With Mom’s talent, orphaned animals became treasured pets, but Molly and Mom remained petless.

“Haven’t found the perfect match yet,” explained Mom when Molly asked for a pet.

Mutty dog arrived in May. He leaped from Mom’s car and splashed in the puddles as he pranced up the driveway. Molly opened the door to his temporary home.  

“Mutty’s staying until I figure him out,” said Mom.

Molly extended her hand. Mutty pushed his muzzle into Molly’s palm. His mischievous eyes urged her to play, but Molly was too tired. Last night’s storm roused her from sleep with cracking lightning and battling winds. It blew through her peaceful dream like a bully.      

Now that she thought about it, storms bullied her! Heavy air and distant rumbling thunder knotted her stomach. She knew lightning, gusts, and downpours would follow. Escaping under her blanket, listening to music, and thinking of something else helped her through the storm. 

Within a few days, Mutty made Molly’s home his. He cuddled Molly’s worn stuffed rabbit, snuggled into his crate each night, and gobbled beef doggie yummies from her palm. Mom listened and watched and touched, but hadn’t found Mutty’s perfect home. Molly hoped Mutty could stay. Quietly snuggling with him during her favorite TV show after a lively game of fetch, Molly told Mom Mutty was perfect for them.

“But are we perfect for Mutty?” asked Mom.

That evening heavy air and gray-clouded sky promised a thunderstorm. Fear built within Molly as the wind picked up. Molly tried to think of anything but the storm that would crash overhead. Mutty panted and paced in the kitchen. His mischievous eyes darkened with unease.

“So that’s what scares him!” Mom said. “Whoever left Mutty at the Center said he was fearful, but didn’t say what caused the fear. It’s storms.”

“I can help him,” Molly said. She rolled the ball to Mutty. He paused his pacing to nose it back. 

Thunder echoed overhead. Mutty lost interest in the ball and whimpered.

“Turn on the radio,” said Molly.   

Mom tuned to the local station. The weather report stated the fast moving storms would soon be out of the area. The news eased Molly’s mind and muffled the thunder. Molly called Mutty into her room. There he slunk into his crate and curled around his stuffed bunny. Molly left the crate door open and draped a blanket over the sides. She closed the blinds and turned on the lights. So they wouldn’t see the flashing lightning. Then she crawled under her blankets and listened to the music as Mutty’s whimpering and the thunder quieted.

A wet nose poked Molly awake. She had fallen asleep during the storm. Mutty deposited his ball on the bed and pushed it toward Molly.

“Looks like Mutty wants his new person to play with him,” said Mom.

“He can stay?” Molly tossed the ball, and Mutty scampered after it.

“Helping Mutty through the storm helped yourself through it,” said Mom. “It’s a perfect match!”

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