Michelle and Izzy
by Jean Backus
I will be dead in five days.
Here is the story.
Not about me.
About Micky – her street name.
The picture was taken fifteen years ago.
Right after the explosion.
Michelle yanked me out of there by the scruff of my neck like a mother cat moving her litter. Then she grabbed the bedroll, as an afterthought.
This afterthought proved to be a godsend since we would not know from one night to the next where or on what we would be sleeping….for years.
This is one example of the hundreds of decisions I witnessed Michelle making based on what seemed to be premonitions or intuitions about what was going to happen. She was damned good at it.
When you live on the streets, intuition and courage are powerful tools and needed much more than money – your life hangs in the balance.
The payoff for the high risks Michelle was willing to take was completely worth it.
Michelle was 14 and I was three months old in the picture. She was an artist with street smarts and enormous potential. Common attributes for people on the street. The difference was that Micky knew she was a money magnet. Her art was the ticket. She had a well known agent at 15, an alias at 16, and at 20, was closet-wealthy and still living on the streets, by choice this time.
Michelle never married, during my lifetime anyway. Art was her lover. She was satisfied and introverted. The agent was her link to the outside world, of which she had no interest.
For the street dwellers, Micky was captivating. Actually, the reverse was true. She adored their open hearts, resourcefulness and lively banter. She passionately painted life into their colorful stories. These works of art fetched top dollar.
I loved Michelle. No matter what, she always made sure I was fed and well taken care of. I slept with her every single night. In the crook of her arm. I always felt safe even when I heard the nearby growling of a mongrel.
There were times I stared at her while she slept, sparks of purring love leaping off my fur so intensely, I swear you could see it. She mesmerized me.
I knew things no one else did like how generous she was with her time and money. She was protective of the kids who would end up living on the streets. She would take them under her wing and teach them the tricks of the trade that she learned the hard way. No one should have to learn them the way she did. She knew the rules of the street better than anyone else and understood how to more than take care of herself.
I know she will struggle with my transition.
I left a gift for Michelle in a language she understood. I wish I could see the look on her face when she discovers it. I dipped my paws in the open paint and walked across the blank canvas.
I’m positive Michelle will name it “Izzy’s Paw Prints” and it will never be sold.
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