I am going to hell. Not one of the lowest circles, like for child molesters, but lower than identity theives. Lower than drunk drivers for sure.
I've been taking Sebastian for mini field trips, just right outside, letting her get to know the place. She always stays by me, coming back every minute or two to rub on my legs. In the big scary fascinating world, I'm the Known. And Clarence, when he is around. Since she lets me pick her up now, and pet her and cuddle her, I thought she was ready for the field trips, and she is. And just lately Maggie lets me pet her and cuddle her and, occasionally, pick her up. So today when I took Sebastian outside to "get her ya ya's out" (her super kitten energy) Maggie was, as usual, crying at the screen door. So I thought, I'll take Maggie with us today. I wasn't quite sure she was ready, but honestly, I didn't want to listen to her whining meow the whole time (I am such a jerk).
It was going fine, I didn't let Maggie go more than two feet from me, and everything was grand and sniff-tastic. Then the kid next door suddenly appeared, at the end of his driveway, swinging and banging the crap out of a piece of wood against a crate (really not blaming the kid here). The kittens were terrified. Sebastian went only a couple feet and I grabbed her, then turned toward Maggie. Didn't see her. Heard her, though, and thought it was going to be another episode of Maggie-under-the-house. I put Sebastian inside, then turned toward Maggies mewling, and was shocked to see her twenty feet up the hill in the forest, crying loudly. I panicked (dumbass!) and went crashing towards her, well, the dry leaves made it sound all loud and I'm sure not putting her at ease. In the space of ten of my paces, she was more than 80 feet from the house, running crazily into the dense second growth, faster than I had any idea she could go.
I climbed the hill as quick as I could, looking down to not slip in thick layer of duff, another smart move, and when I made it to where I'd last seen her, she was gone. I stood still. Tried to listen, but all I heard was my neighbors, using a leaf blower, backing up their V10 diesel, complete with the "beep beep beep", dogs barking. I stood there for over twenty minutes, calling and straining my ears. Nothing. I decided to start moving, even though it was loud and probably scary. I spent the next three hours combing the mountain, and for all I know I walked right by her but she was hiding in terror. I went back to the house three times, once for water, once to get Sebastian, who was the best helper ever, covering at least two acres with me, calling for Maggie. Then at dusk I took Sebastian back, got a flashlight, and tried again, hoping Maggies eyes would shine back at me. I even found where the skunk lives, scared him right out of his stump, again lucking out and not getting sprayed, but no Maggie.
I wish I believed in fate. Or a deity, and I could tell myself, "things happen for a reason", or "a higher power is watching out for her". But all I believe in is taking responsibilty for one's actions. I'm broke? I'm a slacker for not getting a second job. I lose a kitten? I should have realized it was a bad idea to take her out, she wasn't ready. CommonLaw, having just listened to the story when he came home, said I was really good at beating myself up. I wish I could say that Maggie snuck out, and it wasn't my fault, but I'm the adult, the caretaker. I took responsibility for her, and screwed up. She's just a kitten, now lost in acres of forest full of raccoons, coyotes, and phantom pumas.
So all I can do now is berate myself, and pray that she somehow, miraculously, stays safe and finds her way home. Weird, huh, that I may not believe in a specific deity but I believe in prayer. And, that there's a circle of hell with my name on it.
We found snow!
47 minutes ago