by EMMIE CHRISTIE
Kittens in a box! by David Lifson | Flickr
Evelyn was on the way to her big meeting with the department heads, but the box of kittens on the side of the road read ‘take what you can’ and what was a middle-aged woman to do? Leave them?
Of course the freaking not.
She stopped her car and sighed. There were five: an all-black, one with a black sock, one with a white-tipped ear and one with a grey heart on its nose. The last had a bent tail, as if it had been caught in a door. They looked up at her and mewed, showing all their little pink throats, and Evelyn melted into hopeless snigglesnaffing. Snigglesnaffing is, of course, the technical term to describe when, within five feet of something adorable, an average human’s speech breaks into irrepressible endearments such as ‘miggle muffin’ and ‘snuffer puff.’
Evelyn took the whole box to work. “And I’ve got to get these bigwigs to agree to the budget, you see,” she said to Black Sock. “Or marketing’s gonna be short all year. Isn’t that right, muffin-paw sugar snap?” He mewed. “Yes, that’s right.”
She carried the box through the front doors, much to Gregory the security guard’s consternation. She thrust the puddle of kittens in front of his face. “Greg, look at the fluff-beans, the toeses,” she said. “Look at them.”
Gregory failed this particular test and took to snigglesnaffing. Evelyn sailed through to her desk and plopped the box by her monitor. The kittens mewed and circled and pawed at the sides. Greyheart tried leaping out, but she grabbed a piece of paper and distracted him with it.
“I have to go, silken-stuffs. Hey, Trenton!”
Trenton, her cubicle neighbor, poked his head around the corner. “What - awwww, Eve, I’m allergic to cats! You gotta get them out of here.”
“Dang it.” She bit her lip. “But Remy hates cats. I can’t take them in with me.”
White Ear had accordioned half-in, half out and lay there like a slinky on a stairway. She settled him back in.
“Don’t know what to tell you, except maybe you shouldn’t have brought them into a workplace!” Trenton sneezed. “It’s a good thing I have my allergy medication!”
“I’m sorry,” Evelyn said. What had she been thinking? An idea flashed past and she snatched at it in desperation. “Hey. Can I borrow the bottle?”
“What is this?” Remy, the CEO, growled. “Get ‘em out of here!”
Evelyn plopped the box down on the conference table. “They’re part of my presentation.”
Remy rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Get on with it.”
“Marketing needs a budget.” Evelyn stood in front of the ten or so department heads. “We only had 20,000 last year and look what we accomplished! We directed 20 percent more traffic to online sales –” Bent Tail mewed, leading the others in a song of hunger.
“What was that?” Chad, VP of Sales, sipped his coffee. “I couldn’t hear you over the caterwauling.” He snorted. “Get it? Catterwauling?”
“Awww!” June, head of accounting, pressed her hand over her heart. “The little dears!”
“Is anyone here allergic?” Evelyn asked.
“Yes!” Remy said. “I need my dang medication.”
“Alright, then, here’s Trenton’s.” Evelyn rolled the bottle across the table. “Now, think of each kitten as one of our marketing forms.” She tipped the box and they scattered out like nine pins, all tails and claws.
“The hell, Eve!” Remy stood up.
“Just go with me here!” Evelyn let the ‘marketing forms’ wander where they pleased. “Now. This is kind of what was happening last year, without a budget. No direction.” Greyheart wandered up to Remy and pawed at his tie. “Going to the wrong people. Aww, so cute. What a soft little puffer.” She cleared her throat. “In the wrong place though, right?”
“Damn right,” Remy said, glaring at Greyheart. The kitten purred. “Coming in here, talking nonsense.”
“It’s called snigglesnaffing,” Evelyn said. “That’s my technical term for it. And it’s essential for this presentation. See, with a budget, look what we can do.” She grabbed some paper and dragged it across the table, towards June. The herd of kittens galloped across the table, all at June. Bent Tail leapt over Chad’s coffee cup. They all swiped at the paper, but soon became interested in June’s hands as she petted them.
June bent her head and booped noses with Blackie. “Oh, look at their tiny little ear-fluffs! What good little hunters you are! Yes, yes you are!”
“We can lead them to the right person. The person who will sniggle-snaff, who will take the sale.” Evelyn cocked her head. Remy stared at the one with the grey heart on its nose. “And sometimes, with the right information, we can make a hard sale.” She picked up Greyheart and set him in front of the CEO. “I know you used to have a cat.”
Remy glared at her. “So what.”
She smiled and circled to the front. “So. We need 50,000 this year. I know it’s a big bump, but with it, we can target our marketing and sell to the right people. What do you all say?”
June nuzzled her face in half-black half white’s fur. Chad sipped at his coffee and made a face. “Shit. Fur in my cup.” He leaned back. “It’s a cute try, Eve, but kittens? Kind of unoriginal.”
Greyheart purred loud enough for the whole table to hear. All heads swiveled towards Remy. He was petting the kitten.
“His nose looks like a heart, right?” Eve smiled. “They’re all adoptable.”
Greyheart nuzzled against Remy’s chest. The CEO cleared his throat. “Sniggle-snaffing. Huh.” His lips twitched. “We’ll try it out.”
Emmie Christie graduated from the Odyssey Writing Workshop, class of 2013. Her work tends to hover around the topics of feminism, mental health, cats, and the speculative such as unicorns and affordable healthcare. In her spare time, she likes to play D&D and go out line dancing. Find her on twitter @EmmieChristie33.