She found the cat in the clover. It was on its side, its mouth agape, its tiny flanks rising and falling, but only faintly. The cat was barely alive. It's eyes were caked and completely sealed with crust.
She couldn't leave it there to gradually waste in a slow death. But she was terrified to pick up the cat; it looked so broken.
The cat was completely black from the top of its head to the tip of its tail. Its hair was sleek under the blaring of the August sun. Its back leg twitched and it sent her into hysterics right there in the field behind her grandfather's barn.
She'd spent hours that afternoon searching in the clover for those with four leaves. She thought if she found a four-leaf clover that it would be a good thing to give to a boy. That way they could have something to talk about. He could get to know her beyond her fire red hair.
Instead she found a dying cat in the clover. She would not give the dying cat to a boy. She also would not pick it up and carry it. She just couldn't bring her arms down to scoop it up, afraid that if she did the black cat would die against her chest. She was supposed to go to church choir practice later that day, and her shirt would smell like slow death. She'd be covered in black fuzz.Its breathing grew more shallow and more labored. She contemplated crushing its skull in an act of brave mercy, but she was wearing jelly shoes, the kind you can feel rocks through.
She left the cat there that afternoon. She went to choir practice. She did not talk to any boys there. She went to ice cream with the youth pastor and turned in early. She counted the triangles in her bedroom created from intersections of door frames and ceiling seams and tried not to think about the black cat.
She slept so soundly that she woke even before her mother came to shake her awake. She slipped out in her nightgown and walked the half mile to her grandfather's barn and out into the field where there could always be a few four-leaf clovers.
There was no cat there, dead, dying or otherwise. She thought at first it was that she couldn't remember where she left the cat, but her grandfather's farm is not so big, and this field in particular was just a small patch. She combed the clover wet with dew with her slippered feet.
It was nowhere. She knew it because she looked and looked. Nausea swept over her. She bent at the waist, put her hands on her knees and stared at green swimming beneath her. She began to vomit in vibrants sheets of pink. As she heaved, her breath ragged and desperate, she saw one clover with four leaves, drenched.