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A Cat, a Build-a-Bear Box, and One Very Important Book This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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My sister, Brittney, and I have always shared our bedroom; we have also always shared our perpetually overflowing bookshelf. Due to her slightly older status, my sister somehow became convinced one day that she should be the one to decide my reading material. Being as obstinate as I was after eight years of sisterly feuding, I felt it was my right to firmly object. Now, a few things you have to understand about my house: 1. It’s small. It’s just your regular, old, classic cookie-cutter of a house. Which means 2. There aren’t that many places to hide things. And last, but certainly not least, 3. The cat we owned at the time was the devil incarnate. I kid you not, if looks could kill, I would’ve been a goner within about two weeks of owning her. Ironically, my sister had thought it was a great idea to name the black and white calico “Rascal”, which looking back on it now, was the most deceptively docile name she could’ve come up with.

Anyways, this matters for one reason: my sister knew I was petrified of that cat. So, of course, that is where she ultimately decided to hide the book I wanted so desperately. With a cat. More precisely, with a cat, inside a Build-a-Bear box, in the middle of our living room. There was nothing Rascal enjoyed more than laying in wait for her unsuspecting victims (or their legs anyways) in that flimsy little box.

I remember approaching the blue and white cardboard house, trying to be as quiet as possible. The floorboards in my house squeak terribly wherever you walk, and we were in the process of replacing the god-awful puke-green shag carpet that didn’t look like it had been changed since the late 60’s. I crouched behind a corner of the wall, staring through the thick green fibers. My gaze was almost immediately met by two bright yellow eyes, glaring through the tiny corrugated bars. Even the happy little bears on the side of the box seemed to hiss at me menacingly. Behind the glowing, loath-filled eyes, I could see her tail twitching in anticipation. Reaching my hand out, the hissing of the bears intensified, adding with it a deep, guttural growl.

That decided it. Speed was what I needed now, due to my clearly lacking stealth skills. Quickly, I tipped the box on to its side. There was a muffled thump and yelp of surprise as a small purple book and ball of black and white fur slid out of the cardboard. I snatched the book off the ground and ran for the stairs. As I pounded up the steps, I could hear the scratching of claws as the ferocious feline used the carpet to propel herself faster towards me. With a banshee-like screech, I hurled myself up the last few steps. Tiny front paws and pointy teeth seized my right calf just as I reached for the door. With a shriek of pain, I shook the little demon off my leg and slammed the door shut behind me.
I slid down the wall, my leg throbbing and my cat meowing innocently outside the door. Ignoring both, I cracked open the first page, running my hand over the words on the inside cover: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K.Rowling.

From that moment on, I had a rather codependent relationship with my books. I’m not a complete recluse, I still enjoyed going out with my friends. But I can’t belittle the importance books had in my life, even if they do come in the form of a scrawny boy with messy black hair twirling a magic wand. I have had my own losses and my own flaws to face down, but no matter the circumstances, I know that my passion for reading and my inquisitive nature have always led me in the right direction. Always.



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