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The little girl scampered across the cold street, dodging in and around the feet and legs of the people milling around. She was chasing after a cat, one that was an odd color. Its fur was completely black, and its eyes looked purple. The little girl had to find out if it was really like that or if she was imagining things.
The girl was about six and small, skinny from inadequate food and shelter. Her hair was a light honey-blond and blew free in the wind as she ran. She was slightly dirty, but her hazel eyes were bright. She was also inappropriately dressed for the weather, in a patched and ripped dress that had obviously seen better days, and no shoes. But she didn't even notice the cool nip in the air as she laughed out loud, still running after that cat.
The cat ran into a dim, empty alley, sprinting a little ways ahead, then stopping to glance back at the little girl. Once he had made sure that she was still following him, he ran a little farther ahead and hid in a hole in the brick wall.
The little girl dashed forward and crouched beside the hole.
"Here, kitty. I won' hurt ya, I promise," she crooned, holding out her hand.
The cat didn't come out.
"Please, kitty? Pretty please?" the little girl pleaded, her voice turning desperate. "I jus' wan' to pet ya."
The cat finally came out, and the little girl gasped. She had been right. Even in the dim light, the cat's eyes were definitely purple. She smiled and ran her hand down its spine. It arched its back and purred.
"See, kitty? I jus' wan' to pet ya. You sure got some pretty eyes, yes you do," she said.
A door opened behind her, spilling warm light everywhere. The little girl jumped up, turning around. In the doorway stood a woman, a very pretty woman in nice clothes. She had a kind face.
The little girl took a step back. No one liked having her around their homes. They called her dirty and thieving. So she kept away from them.
But the kind-faced woman didn't yell at her. She didn't even raise her hand to throw something at her. Instead, she smiled.
"Well, hello there, little one. What is your name?" the kind-faced woman asked, crouching down to look the girl in the face.
The girl pursed her lips, debating whether or not she could trust this lady. Finally, she decided that since she wasn't trying to hurt her, the woman might be nice.
"Karina," the little girl announced proudly. She clasped her hands behind her back.
"Such a pretty name. Where's your mother?" the woman asked worriedly.
"Don' have one." Karina shrugged her small shoulders.
"Really?" The lady didn't like that. She frowned. "Where do you live?"
The little girl shrugged again. "Dunno. Anywhere."
"You don't have a home?" The girl shook her small head at the woman's question. "What do you eat? You look a little skinny."
Karina shrugged once more. "I find things. Sometimes, people give me things to eat. But not all the time." Karina's little face turned suspicious. "Who're you?"
"My name is Cara. I could take care of you. Would you like that?" the woman asked kindly.
Karina just stared at her. "What d'ya mean?"
"Well, I don't live here, but I do have a nice home, and I have some sons that you could play with. And you'd like my husband, too. I'm sure we could adopt you," Cara offered.
A spark of hope flickered in the little girl's bright eyes. "I'd live with you?"
"If you'd like." Cara smiled warmly. She held out her hand.
Without hesitation, the little girl took it. There was something different about this woman, something nice.
"C'mon inside and get warmed up. You look like you could use it," Cara said, turning to lead Karina inside.
Just as she was about to step inside the warm house, the little girl remembered the cat with the purple eyes. She stopped.
"Wait," she said, abruptly turning back around. She looked around the alley.
"What is it?" asked Cara, looking around for whatever Karina was seeing.
Karina wasn't seeing anything. That was the problem. "There was a kitty with pretty eyes. He was right here."
A frown furrowing her small brow, she studied the dim alley anxiously. There was no sign of the unique cat.
"Maybe he ran off," Cara suggested.
"Maybe," Karina agreed, but she was still disappointed. With a sigh, she let the kind woman lead her inside, to warmth and food.
A little ways down the alley, hiding behind a garbage pile, a purple-eyed cat watched them walk inside. The door shut, leaving the dirty alley in sudden darkness. With a satisfied nod, the purple-eyed cat stood and stretched, then sauntered on down the alley. His job was done.