"Fred! How are you?" Jim said to the man that had stopped in the street before him. He had been cycling down the road trying to keep warm as he came back from the corner shop, having woken up that morning to realise that he had run out of milk and he hated black tea.
He had left his wife Edith in bed, she had been under the weather a bit lately, and with the threat of snow, he wondered if he should just go home, make the tea and curl up beside her with the TV on. It seemed such a great way to beat the cold.
"Well thank you, Jim. I can't grumble." Fred had both his hands dug deep in his pockets, but he took one out to shake Jim's gloved hand, that was raised to meet him. Jim noticed the cuts on the back of it and looked quizzically at Fred. "Oh, I have a new pet. She is only a kitten, so is scratching everything and everyone. The children thought it would help me and give me something to focus on." Fred said. He had lost his wife of fifty years, almost a year ago and though it had been expected, due to cancer, it was still a shock for everyone.
Jim smiled and wondered what it would be like to be on his own. He too had been married for over fifty years, but unlike Fred, he and Edith had not been blessed with children, though they did have a few nieces and nephews. But it still wasn't the same.
"It is fun having the little thing running around, and now the bed isn't so big and lonely anymore. I never thought such a small thing could take up so much bed. It sometimes feels like Joy is still there taking all the covers and bed."
Jim started chuckling, "Oh! Yes! I can freeze in bed every night, so long as she has the quilt entirely covering her. But, I wouldn't change it." As he said the words, he regretted them.
Fred saw his discomfort and smiled. "I understand, and I am so thankful for the years I had with Joy." They stood there with a silence between them, both thinking of all the happiness they had shared with their wives, and Jim hoping for a few more years. He was now eager to break away from Fred and get home to that warm bed and his beautiful wife.
Fred smiled, "The children had talked about getting a dog they hoped would get me out and walk. But we went to see one, and I looked at the puppies, but I wasn't taken by any of them. I then heard this little meow, and there was a pair of blue eyes staring at me. I was in love straight away."
Jim smiled at him, and Fred continued "There is one sad thing about the kitten, and that is when I have to walk down to the shop to get her food, I have no company. I worry about leaving her behind, so..." He turned his head slightly and looked down to the ground beside him, and for the first time, Jim saw a little black and white kitten sitting beside Fred, watching the two of them as they conversed.
Jim chuckled some more and bent down to stroke the cat. She seemed to enjoy the attention and wound herself around his leg, before going back to Fred.
Fred bid his friend a goodbye and Jim watched, open mouthed as the little thing followed Fred towards the shop and her food. The kitten stopped for a moment and looked back at him and seemed to wink with big blue eyes that reminded Jim of Joy.