Dave frowned. There was just a muffin and a banana in his lunchbox. He hated the end of the month when money was tight. Maybe if he ate slower he wouldn’t feel as hungry.
He put his books on the lunch table so no one would see how small his lunch was, and unpeeled the banana. He blinked. There wasn’t a banana inside the peel. Instead, there was a little yellow kitten with dark eyes. He pinched himself. Still there.
“Hello,” the kitten said. He looked around and looked back. It was still there. “No one else can see me,” it said. It turned its head and started licking its back.
“Where did my banana go?” Dave asked.
“There wasn’t one,” the kitten said. “Just me.”
“Oh,” Dave said. He started to peel his muffin. He really was hungry. The kitten watched him and leaned forward as he prepared to take a bite. “Did you want some?” Dave asked.
“Thank you,” the kitten said. It swallowed the entire muffin in one bite and then went back to licking its back. The muffin was bigger than its head, so Dave wasn’t really sure how that just happened.
“You’re welcome, I guess,” Dave said. “What’s your name?”
“I don’t want one,” the kitten said.
“Then what will I call you?”
The kitten turned around and stared at him. “Don’t say anything at all. People will think you’re crazy. If you only talk to me when we’re alone, who else would you be talking to?”
That made sense. Dave nodded and then looked around. Everyone else was eating. He sighed and began to pack his bag again. No lunch today. Maybe he could win some candy if Mr. Long was giving a pop quiz. He always studied hard just in case.
To his delight, there was a pop quiz. He quickly filled in his answers and waited for the others to finish writing. He could almost taste the chocolate. The kitten jumped off his shoulder and studied his paper. “This one is wrong,” it said. “And this one. And this one. You’re really bad at this.”
Dave looked at his answers again. He really wanted that chocolate. He was pretty sure they were right. But he was so hungry. He changed his answers.
The kitten was wrong. “Sorry,” it said and started licking its paws. Dave groaned and shoved the test in his bag. His stomach growled.
“Dave,” Mr. Long said. “You sound hungry.” The class laughed. Dave’s face burned. Mr. Long waited until everyone settled down and then smiled. “I’ll give you a second chance to earn a treat. Come to the board and show us how to do this problem.”
Dave was willing to try. The kitten climbed up on his arm, and he went to the board. The kitten kept yelling in his ear that he was doing it wrong. He ended up making a silly mistake and some of his classmates laughed. Mr. Long gave him the candy anyways.
The kitten yelled the opposite of whatever the teacher said for the rest of the day. Dave had an enormous headache. When he got home, no one was home. There was another banana and a package of ramen on the table with a note. Mom would be home late.
Dave was sure this was a bad idea, but he unpeeled the banana. There was another kitten. “Where did mom get these?” he asked. No one answered. Instead, the other kitten climbed on his other shoulder. The cats began to sing opera loudly. He groaned.
“I think it’s time you both got down,” he said. They ignored him. He tried to pick them up and move them, but it was like trying to catch smoke. They darted away from his hands and scratched at him with little needle-like claws.
Dave sat down and the kittens perched on his shoulders. Cats hate water, right? “I think I might need to take a shower,” he said. “Right now.” The first kitten growled and its eyes grew large. It was kind of scary.
“Never mind, I give up. What do you want from me?” he asked.
“We want to go home to our mother,” the second kitten said. “I’m hungry.”
Dave made up the ramen. The kittens ate it all. He called his mom’s work. “This had better be important,” she said.
“Umm…I think I heard something outside in the bushes,” he said.
“Are the doors locked?” Mom sounded impatient.
“Uh, yes,” Dave said.
“Then turn out the lights and go to bed early. We have nothing to steal.”
Dave frowned. He still had homework to do. And he was hungry. “Mom, where did the bananas come from?”
“Aunt Jenny, when I was returning her umbrella. I’ll see you in the morning Dave. I’m sorry you have to be home alone.” Mom hung up.
Dave called Aunt Jenny. “Hi, Aunt Jenny? Where did the bananas come from? Do you have the neighbor’s number? Thank you!”
He called the neighbor, and then a garden store, and then a bakery. The baker told him they were from an elderly lady who lived by the bakery. By now, the kittens were having a loud argument. They kept swiping at each other and scratching Dave instead.
It wasn’t late yet, so Dave walked to the bakery. He knocked at the door of the house next to it. A very tall man answered and said the old lady lived two doors down.
Dave trudged down the street and knocked on the door. The house was clean and well kept. And neon pink.
The old lady who answered had bright blue hair. Her house was full of yellow cats. The kittens climbed down and raced around the corner. The old lady smiled. “Thank you dear,” she said. “You look hungry. Would you like something to eat?”
“Not a banana?” Dave asked. Just in case.
“Of course not.” The old lady looked shocked. “Here, have a nice muffin from the bakery. Would you like to come by sometimes and help me with my sweet cats?”
“Probably not,” Dave said. “But thank you for the muffin.”
“I’ll pay you for your time, of course,” the lady said.
Dave looked down at where a yellow cat was chewing on his shoelaces. “Well, let me think about it. I’ll let you know.” The lady handed him another muffin and smiled. Dave sighed. He knew he’d probably say yes. He hated the end of the month when money was tight.