Dear diary, a woman saved my life today.
Mum, Dad, Danny (that’s my little sibling) and me moved into our new house this morning, reading for the start of the school year next week. I’m going to high school! Mum said I won’t be so excited once I actually start, but she was smiling at the time so she was probably lying. I’m going to prove her wrong anyway with this diary.
Dad insisted that we unpack everything today or it’d never be done, so the sun had almost set when I finished. I went out front to watch the first stars come out. Orangey-pink streaked across the sky as the sun sunk behind a mountain. Cold wind whistled between the houses, whooshing away the day’s heat.
But the stars didn’t come out when the sun finally set. Not my stars, not the ones at the edge of the sky. It wasn’t because of the storm clouds on the horizon. The stars I always look to are meant to be in a different part of the sky. When I looked up, I saw the glitter of a bunch of stars. But where was the milky streak? Where were all the constellations I memorised on summer nights like these? The Southern Cross was still there, but that was pretty much it.
“Where are they?” I asked aloud.
Then something bright white caught my eye. Not in the sky, but on the ground. It darted under a car parallel parked across the street. I edged close to our grey picket fence. Two blue orbs watched me as the white blob crouched close to the tarmac. It flicked its tail and twitched its ears. I slowly creaked open our gate and snuck onto the footpath.
The cat flopped to the ground and rolled upside down. I couldn’t resist that much adorableness. So I looked up and down the street, ran across it, barefooted, and crouched behind the car. The cat locked eyes on me, mid-roll and head upside down, then rolled a little down the hill and away from my reach. I got up to try from the other side of the car. But then I noticed the figure behind me.
A woman, who looked about twenty, was sitting on her patio, with her black hair lazily swept into a bun, reading an old thick book. As if she could sense my eyes on her, she peeked over the book and looked straight at me. I could’ve sworn that the tiniest trace of amusement reached her light green eyes. She glanced at the car, raised an eyebrow, and then smiled a little, like she knew that the cat was under it. I wanted to know if it was her cat, but she returned to her book. Plus that whole stranger, danger thing, even if we’re now neighbours.
Soft purring pulled my attention back to the cat. I crouched in front of the car and slowly reached my hander under it. The cat crept forward and smelt my hand. Its ears suddenly perked up. A nearby ice-cream truck’s bell was ringing. The cat launched to its paws and sprinted down the street. It leapt onto a fence a few doors down and disappeared behind it.
I stumbled to my feet and bent down to wipe the dirt off my knees. I’d learned my lesson enough times to not go inside covered in even a speck of dirt. I didn’t hear the low rumbling getting louder and louder as it turned into the street. I didn’t realise that I was in a blind enough spot as it was, even if they did have their lights on. I didn’t think to check the road as I stepped backwards.
But I did see the green-eyed woman lurch forward and pull me off the road.
The car’s drawn out horn pierced the night as the woman carefully guided me back onto the footpath. Some of the curtains and blinds of other houses’ front windows slipped open, people checking out what the fuss was for. It took me a little too long to realise that the woman was actually speaking to me.
“You’re probably in shock, but that’s normal,” she said. “You live across the street, right? Just moved in with your family? You’d need your parents.”
“You just saved me,” I said. I know, pointing out the obvious.
“Yeah, I’m taking you back now.”
She put her hand on my shoulder and steered me back to the road, making a point to check for any cars before crossing. I wanted to ask why she even bothered. She did move pretty fast to pull me out of the way, after all. Her reactions must be cat-like. Or maybe she just figured out what was going to happen before it did. I wanted to get any sort of information out my saviour, but she stayed silent even as she knocked on my front door.
I’d hoped for Dad. I got Mum.
“Emma! What are you doing outside?”
“I wanted to look at the stars.”
“She almost stepped in front of a car,” the woman answered. “I pulled her off the road.”
Flames rose in Mum’s darkened brown eyes as she slowly morphed into fury incarnate. I didn’t know if it was directed at the woman for daring to interrupt her or if I was her newest target. That was, until she turned her flared nostrils my way and her eyes locked onto me.
“What were you doing on the road?”
“There was this cat,” I explained. “I wanted to pat it and-.”
The woman cleared her throat, saving me yet again. “Well, if that’s all. I’ve got a good read to finish, so I’ll be off.”
Mum’s jaw went slack as we watched the woman stroll back to her patio without a single glance our way. I don’t think Mum has ever shown such raw astonishment. It was kind of funny to watch her openly gawk at the woman who just saved my life. She saved my life! I’d forgotten to thank her. How was that even possible? I considered yelling it out, but Mum was already pushing me through the front door and scowling at my feet.
“Where are your shoes?” she asked.
I smacked my forehead. I’d forgotten to thank our neighbour and there Mum was, worrying about my lack of shoes.
“I’ll go wash my feet,” I said. Not that it would’ve made much difference to the floors. They’re already covered in post move-in dust.
“We’ll go introduce ourselves properly to that young lady tomorrow.” Mum dropped her voice. “Because she didn’t have the common curtesy to do that today.”
“She just saved my life,” I pointed out.
Mum scoffed. “And she wouldn’t have had to if you didn’t go outside without permission.”
I went to argue that I was always allowed to do that at our last house, but I already knew her response. ‘This is a different house with different rules.’ I miss our acreage. Mum hasn’t been the same since we left it. Maybe moving every six months is starting to wear her down. Hopefully we can stay at Jacaranda Street a little longer. The stars may be gone, but at least something’s still watching out for me.