Cat, Bell, Book and Candle (Part 1)

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I sat before my front gate and watched the world going by. Everyone was in such a hurry that no one noticed me. Perhaps, if I had been a wholly black someone would have given me a second glance. Even if you weren’t superstitious, there was something about black cats that made people pause.

Luckily then, I was a white and black cat. I had three white legs and one black leg whilst my tail started black then white the rest of the way. White blots mixed with black along my back whilst my underside and chest were white. My head was black as were my eyes then my face was white with a patch of black around my left eye which then joined the black on my head and upper neck. My nose was black with a beauty spot above and my whiskers were white.

My eyes were amazing blue like quartz crystal or shads of frozen ice. They came from my Siamese side but also because I wasn’t your average pet cat. Magic flowed in my blood and I could see it, smell it and use it to do whatever I wanted within my abilities….Most of the time though, I acted normally and brought no attention to myself.

I smelt the air, my whiskers twitching and could pick out so many scents; the perfume the woman next door was wearing as she got into her car. The open sewer the three workers were struggling to fix down the street. The dog at number thirty-one who was barking in the back garden because he wanted to be let back in. The mouth tingling aromas of lots of dinners being cooked, plus the waft of another burnt potion….

I stretched, limbering up my legs and tail for scaling the house wall. The small silver bell and name tag on my purple velvet collar jingled together. I limboed under the gate and avoiding the cracked flagstone path, stepped through the flower boarder, leaving four perfect paw prints in the soil. I jumped up the wall, followed it along to the end then jumped down into the dimness of the ginnel which was the covered alleyway between the two terraced house.

Trotting along side the wall, I came to the end and clawed my way up the brick wall to the right side and over it. I was in my back garden then. Well, if it could be called that. The space was a long rectangle with a flagstone floor and jumble of potted plants growing along either wall.

A wire cable that was a washing line ran from the house to the back fence and on it today were tea towels and bath towels, moving gently in the breeze. A number of girl’s toys were laying about; a pink bicycle lent up against the back wall, plastic dolls like dead bodies on a beach, a skipping rope, an old paint tray full of chalks, pencils and papers, a football, a tennis ball and a broken racket.

I picked my way around it all and scaled the drain pipe. The house was narrow and only had one upper floor. There was a peeling green painted back door, a single window that looked into a kitchen. There were two windows in the floor above; a small one that was glazed over for the bathroom and the window I was heading too; that of a newly turned twelve year old girl’s bedroom.

I reached the sill and sat for a moment. I wasn’t at all out of breath but I liked to survey what was around me. From here, I could see the gardens of the other houses and the cobbled path that ran between the terraced houses’ backs. It couldn’t get anymore Victorian then this.

On moonlight nights, I would go up to the roof and sat close to the chimney and reflect on my passed lives. A witch’s cat is immortal and must live nine lives with nine different witches. I had sat on rooftops in Paris, Roman, Russia and London looking up at the same moon that lit up the night sky.

And now, I was here; Lancashire, England, home of the Pendle Witches.

I pressed my face to the window and looked in. She was in the room, my Little Mistress; Eden Raine Crowe. She was lent over a small camping gas stove and the black pot that was balanced upon it. Open books, bottles and jars lay scattered at her feet. She was wearing a handmade black dress with a white bow at the back as a symbol of a child witch.

I miaowed and pawed the glass, my claws scratching against it.

Eden turned her head, spotted me and dashed over. She flew the window up with such force, I had to dig my claws into the sill to stop myself flying along with it.

‘Macavity!’ Eden cried and scooped me to her chest. She held me there, saying things I could barely hear as she suffocating me against her dress. I wiggled out bum first and dropped to the carpet.

‘What earth are you doing, child?’ I chided her as I batted away an empty glass bottle.

‘Trying to make a de-stress potion for dad,’ Eden explained.

I approached the simmering cauldron and sniffed cautiously, ‘it’s wrong,’ I spoke.

Eden fell to her knees before the little stove, her dress riding up to show her knee length black socks with white bows on top. She put her hands in her lap and hung her head.

‘I know,’ Eden uttered, ‘I’m no good at this, Macavity.’

I sat down, curling my tail around my paws and studying my Little Mistress.

‘Potion making is a magic unto it’s self,’ I announced.

Eden nodded and I could see her bottom lip trembling and her eyes tight trying to hold back tears.

I got up and padded around the books until I found the right one. I pulled it over to her and made the pages flap to the right page. This book was handwritten by Eden’s great-great grandma and other witches had written other spells and notes in the crackled yellow pages.

‘This one,’ I said and tapped it with a paw.

Eden took the large book into her lap like a toddler with a teddy bear and looked at the fancy, curly black ink on the page. Speaking the words softly, she underlined each one with her finger.

‘You should have enough left,’ I said as I nosed one of the bottles, ‘you really must be careful with how much you use, Little Mistress,’ I added.

‘I know,’ Eden uttered and started collecting what we needed.

Putting on protective gloves, she took the cauldron off the burner and onto a cork mat on a metal slate. Then she dug out another cauldron, this one a spotted grey colour and placed that on another cork mat.

Slowly, I taught her through the potion. Making sure she added just enough of each ingredient and stirred in the right places. We spoke the incantation together then left the potion to simmer for an hour.

Eden sat back on her heels, tried and flushed with the heat. She rubbed her eyes and toyed with the edges of her dress in an absent-minded way. Her long, black hair had tumbled out of the bun she had tried to put it in and now lay fanned down her back.

‘Time to tidy up, child,’ I said and nudged her with paw and nose.

Nodding sleepily, Eden slowly cleaned and tied everything away. I did most of the work though, using my magic to pick up things and place them back on shelves or in boxes. The pages of the books fluttered closed and the books slotted into the small bookcase once more. The bottles and jars floated back into their places in the racks then into the wooden boxes which kept them safe.

As for the failed potion and pot, I neutralised the warm orange liquid which made the potion stable and non-usable. It is safe for Eden to put in the bathtub, turn the taps on and wash out the black cauldron.

‘What time is your father coming home?’ I asked Little Mistress from my perched on the closed toilet seat.

‘Late,’ Eden replied, ‘he told me there was a microwave meal in the freeze. There’s cat food for you, Macavity.’

‘I prefer fish, a raw egg and a bowl of cream,’ I said.

Eden pulled the plug in the tub and watched the water spiralling down, ‘we’ll see,’ she added.

To Be Continued….