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(In response to Writing Task 652, a fictional story based on an old barn photograph I took while on a road trip in the country)

As I walked this property that was for sale I saw a barn in the distance. It was a nice Fall day to venture out of the city. My heart skipped a beat because I always wanted a place with an old barn. I was finally in the position to look for my own place and was looking forward to check out this abandoned acreage.  It was listed in the newspaper for a reasonable price. The location was in the north and in the rural countryside.

I walked closer to the barn feeling excited. I turned my satchel around like a backpack so I could walk a bit faster. Well, it looked just fine from this distance! Sure, it was weathered and paint was chipping off but it looked solid. I ventured inside and it was a whole other story. The rafters looked chewed up in places and that made me wonder if I was truly alone here. My one gross out factor are rats and the chewed up wood looked like rodent damage. I don’t know, do rats eat wood? I walked gingerly toward a dark corner of the structure, it was dark because the two windows were boarded up. The only light coming through were thin streaks peaking in between wood planks that were shrunken by age. So the old barn was falling down inside but it had potential – that was my thought as I always had an optimistic outlook in life.

I felt a shiver go down my back as I looked at the pile of horse blankets shoved against the corner post and dared myself to go closer. I heard a little squeak and froze in my step. I heard another one, this time it sounded like a snarl. I bravely stepped closer while clutching the side pocket of my satchel for my pocket knife in case of a rat attack. I pulled up the corner of the canvas material of the horse blanket nearest to me. To my surprise was a mother cat with three baby kittens. She snarled again but I spoke softly and asked her to let me see her babies. She was a black and white cat and her babies looked like gray tiger kittens. She was thin but she perceived that I meant no harm. I had a meat and cheese snack in my satchel and I took it out and gave her some roast beef slices and cheese cubes. She ate the meat very quickly and sniffed at the cheddar cheese but did not eat it. She let me pick her up to pet her and she purred. I made a new friend!

I couldn’t leave her there so I wrapped up the babies in the horse blanket and stepped out into the brisk air of the country.  Ms.  Panda (I already named her) followed me out with her precious kids. I bundled them all up in the back seat of my car and pulled my phone out.

I called the number in the listing and said I will take it, falling down barn and all.

By Gaby Ethington

Retired from my career in medical clinical research and picking up speed in my photography. I am inspired to start back at writing as well.