We’d flown since early morning from Seattle’s SeaTac Airport, via Detroit, then Boston and finally home to Portland. It’s late. I’m tired and hungry. You don’t get anything to eat on the later flights. Not even a peanut.

Home after Christmas. Our headlights cascade down a long, winding, driveway piled three feet deep with snow. The car lights reflect off an icy sheen mocking us, as if to say, “See what you missed.”

What to do? It’s 11 at night. Our cat complains in the back seat. At Club Purr, I’d carefully squeezed Molsen back into the cat carrier we’d bought when he was a kitten.

A light across the street. My husband, Jeb, gets out and walks over to the neighbor’s house.

Molsen growls. Deep mean, angry, growls. He’s mad. I don’t blame him and sympathetically open the hinged cage. Seconds later the car door opens.

And of course, Molsen bolts out.

I get out of the car. We call him. No sign of Molsen. He’s vanished into the black woods.

Two months before, Molsen’s brother Simon disappeared. We think there is a pack of coyotes in our neighborhood.

Molsen and Simon are outdoor cats. Hunters. I know pet cats should be kept safe inside. But, where I grew up, cats were tough and fended for themselves. At night, Mittens got into fights with the neighborhood cats and Dad would spray them with a garden hose to stop their yowling and hissing so he could go back to sleep.

Our neighbor called her commercial plow guy. This sloppy wet heavy job was too much for our guy. We wait in the car. Half an hour later, we drive up our driveway, our garage door lifts up and we haul two suitcases into the house. I stand in the garage and look out at the stars. I call for Molsen. I can hear him crying. He’ll freeze to death. Why doesn’t he come?

“He’s okay,” Jeb calls out. “Let’s go to bed.”

“But, Jeb,” I wail. “What about the coyotes?”

Jeb puts on his coat and tromps down the driveway to look for Molsen. He’s a good man.

A short time later, fifteen pounds of cold meowing orange fur is dumped at my feet. I grab a towel and briskly rub Molsen. “Where have you been?”

“He was stuck. He was digging a tunnel through the snow from the neighbor’s house to ours. I had to crawl in and pull him out.”

“Thank you.”

I continue to rub Molsen. “Running away, you naughty boy. Do you know how lucky you are that Jeb found you before the coyotes did?”

I look up at my husband. “Molsen will never go outside again, if I can help it. This rotund bellied fur ball will not be a meal for a pack of wild animals. So what if he turns into a lazy, fat house lap cat. I want Molsen to have a long life.

Molsen trills in my lap.

Meetinghouse is a community storytelling project hosted by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

Read more stories from Maine at www.pressherald.com/meetinghouse