Thank you for your Christmas card, it was nice to hear all your updates. I shall have to write fully soon but for now here’s a short note. We’re all fine, not much news, only the wedding has been moved to later on this year and the puppy is feeling lots better after the chocolate mishap on Christmas day!
There’s been some heavy snow up here and more is due. Bet it’s not much warmer on the coast but I’d rather walk on sand instead of mud.
Did you hear about Fred? Falling off the roof like that at his age! He’s home and his broken legs are healing well.
Let me know if you hear anymore about Norma. I never got a card off her.
Eden and I slept late, waking only when weak sunlight came through the window. Eden stretched and got sleepily out of bed. I tumbled around in the duvet, fighting my way out of it.
Shaking, I jumped out of bed and checked on the potion. It was still warm and the colour was slowly turning to a deep red. Little motos of red drifted around. I sniffed and dappled some of my own magic to see what the potion might be like.
Well, it wasn’t a complete Impersonation potion. So, a shade of Eden’s dad might be produced but it wouldn’t last long. My Little Mistress’s hopes of some time with her dad had slipped away.
There would be time to break it to her later. Nothing could be done today.
Eden came back and started getting dressed. I jumped on her desk and said to her, ‘let’s do some baking today for Halloween. Dad will help us carve the pumpkin later or tomorrow. We should make plans for the day and night too.’
‘Can I go to Pendle Hill this year?’ Eden asked excitedly, become more awake.
I shook my head, ‘Too young child. Perhaps, if you had an adult with you…There’ll be many years to come for you to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve in full.’
‘I wish I could go now! I wish things were different,’ Eden muttered into her hoodie.
‘Don’t we all,’ I answered her, ‘come on. The potion is still cooling. Let’s get breakfast.
The day past slowly as it does on the eve of a special day. We made some halloween shape cookies, planned meals, games and movies. Eden’s dad had booked the night off which was rare because Saturday nights were busy at the pub but he had found someone to cover for him.
When he was awake, he said he would carve the pumpkin tomorrow, he was going in work early this evening as they were busy.
‘Few more hours pay is never to be turned down,’ he said, ‘you can have that frozen meal and some snacks to watch a movie with. Then bed early. Do you hear me, Eden and Macavity? Bed by nine at the latest.’
‘Yes dad. It’s a busy day for witches tomorrow,’ Eden added.
Dad cocked an eyebrow and looked from her to me and back to his daughter again before saying, ‘what have you planned?’ in a low voice.
Eden shrugged, ‘just practising my broomstick flying and spell casting. Oh and Macavity is going to tell me some scary stories.’
‘Is this true, cat?’
‘Yes, sir. With a little potion brewing thrown in. There’s magic in the air and young witches need to learn how to grab it. She will be safe with me,’ I added.
Dad signed and looked at his watch, ‘I’ve to go. Be good. Mrs and Mr Mead will be keeping an eye on you.’
We waved goodbye from the front room and I looked up at the darkening sky. The weather had change it was starting to rain again. Never trust a weather forecast man.
Eden plopped herself in front the TV and I watched the rain falling. The wind swept up and soon it was lashing it down. Some kind of autumn storm had started in the sea and come over further than they had originally predicted.
I pressed my nose to the cold, damp glass. There was no point going out tonight, nobody would be out in this weather. So, tomorrow then, on Halloween, up on Pendle hill I’d have to seek out my friends, if they had even come this year.
‘Let’s check on the potion. It needs some finalising,’ I cut into my Little Mistress thoughts.
She left the TV on and went upstairs. There were a few late ingredients to add and the spell words to be cast. Then the potion had to be placed in the dark to be ‘born’ as the old spell book stated.
‘Do you think it will turn out right?’ Eden asked me after we had placed the cauldron in the back of her wardobe.
‘No, child,’ I replied with a deep sign.
Eden looked at me, a tremble in her bottom lip and her eyes growing wet.
‘We didn’t have the right ingredients, nor the power level needed. We shall get something, I can sense that but it may be only a shadow that will last a short time.’
Eden sunk to the carpet and was silent.
‘Do not despair, child. You are still learning after all. There is nothing to be done now. Let’s go watch a movie or do something else.’
My Little Mistress nodded and we went back to the living room. There were snacks and fizzy drinks we watched Disney movies till it was past nine O’clock and I was nudging Eden to bed.
Later, when the storm had passed and the streets glowed wet, I slipped out and went for a walk. A found witch’s familiars watching from windows and tree branches. I listened to the hum of the vibrations and looked up at the dark shadow of Pendle Hill.
Tomorrow, that hill would sing with voices and flow with black clothes and naked bodies. Fires would burn, Jack O’ Lanterns would grin, the sweet autumn air would thicken and magic would be at its strongest.
I passed a raven tucked into a fir tree, I nodded to him and walked on, around deep puddles and rotting leaves. Lights glowed in the windows, I was drawn to them and to spy on the witches within. They looked no different from humans, just slightly odd in their strange in their clothes.
An old witch smiled at me as I peered in on her from a second floor hotel window. She was waving a wand over her spell book, her imp familiar lost in a chat at her feet.
Wandering far that night, I met friends old and new, witches from the area and witches from other parts of the country and the world. The air thunder with magic and the wind whispered spells and the scent of potions brewing. I talked long into night with familiars, catching up on news and hearing about the lives and travels of others.
It was late morning when I came home. My Little Mistress up and eating a toffee apple before the TV. I went to have my breakfast, left in my bowl for me then I got into my cat bed with a hood top and a fleece lining. It was warm and dry, exhausted I fell to sleep.
An hour or so later, Eden woke me. I yawned and stretched.
‘Macavity. Dad says there’s a sound coming from my wardrobe. Like something is in there…I thought you said the Impersonation Spell wouldn’t work,’ Eden hissed in my ear.
‘I didn’t say that. I said it was doing something…’
‘Will you go see? I’m scared,’ Eden whispered.
‘Don’t ever be scared of your own craft. You wielded the power, not the other way around,’ I responded.
‘Then…come with me to see?’
We went upstairs and found her dad in the wardrobe, looking around. He was dressed in PJ, having not been up for long. I pushed passed his legs and walked in slowly. The bedroom light cast in enough to see by but at the back it was in shadows.
‘I don’t see anything,’ Dad said.
‘It was nothing,’ Eden replied, ‘something falling over…’
The cauldron was still there. I peered inside it and saw at the bottom something moving.
It was a whole right hand!
There were all the fingers and the thumb, the back of the hand was a bit hairy and the wrist was there but the top which should have joined the arm was covered by a lump of skin where the joint bone poked out. It was a large hand and looked like it belong to a man.
I withdrew and sat there. How had this happened? The potion and spell must have been strong enough for this construct but not the rest of the body. My Little Mistress had more power and skill then I realised…Though the energy of Halloween had also aided.
What to do now?
‘Macavity?’ Eden called me.
I twitched my tail, swallowed the lump in my throat and went to tell the truth.
‘What is it?’
I stepped out of the wardrobe and jumped on the desk, ‘There’s something in the cauldron,’ I stated.
Eden rushed inside then let out a scream. She fled back and flung herself at into her dad.
‘What is it?’ he cried.
The disembodied hand, using the tips of the fingers walked into the light. It stopped on the edge of the wardrobe and hesitated. It seemed to be sensing what was around it.
‘Is that thing real? Where did you get it from, Eden! Tell me!’ her dad cried.
He knelt on the floor, holding his daughter by her shoulders.
‘I wanted to help you,’ Eden sobbed, ‘you said you wanted a double. I wanted more time with you. I…’
‘Did it come from someone?’ dad demanded.
Eden shook her head.
‘It was potion born,’ I cut in, ‘I oversaw it. I knew the full spell wouldn’t work and I was expecting, a shadow or ghost of some sort.’
‘That thing looks solid enough to me,’ Dad pointed out.
I nodded, ‘it shouldn’t last long. A few minutes or hours and it will disappear as if it never was.’
The fingers stepped out of the wardrobe and the hand scuttled around the room like a spider. It came to some of Eden’s discarded clothes and processed to put them away.
Dad and Eden sat on the bed, I stayed on the desk and we all watched the hand tidy the bedroom. Somehow it could ‘see’ and knew where to put things.
‘I didn’t mean any harm. I’m sorry,’ Eden said after a few moments.
‘Well, it doesn’t seem dangerous,’ dad spoke.
‘It’s doing its job too,’ I pointed out, ‘lending hand with things,’ I hide a chuckle.
‘It creeps me out,’ dad uttered.
The hand had finished tidying and was heading towards the bedroom door, out it went, fingernails gripping the carpet and soon we heard it moving in dad’s room. No doubt tidying.
‘Promise me that next time you do something like this, Eden, you tell me before you do it.’
‘I promise, dad,’ Eden said, ‘does that mean you’re not angry?’
‘Oh, I’m angry and I’ll have to punish you for it-‘
‘Not tonight! Of all night!’ Eden shouted, jumping off the bed, ‘we are going Trick or Treating and I’ve to stay up to look out demons when the veil openings! Please, I will do anything! Give me any punishment you want but not tonight, I beg you please.’
Dad rubbed his head, it looked like he was getting a headache.
I stayed silent. A familiar can only be punished by their mistress or master. I knew letting Eden create the hand had been wrong but I couldn’t have predicted that would happen… I scolded myself and told myself in future to be more careful and firmer with Little Mistress.
‘Promise me something first,’ dad spoke, ‘don’t sneak off to Pendle Hill tonight. I know all the witches are gathering up there. I saw a few last night in the pub, eating and drinking and talking in hushed voices about certain plans. I know you are one of them but you are still my little girl. I don’t want anything to happen.’
‘I promise I won’t go. Macavity has stopped me before,’ Eden spoke.
Dad looked at me and I give a single nod, ‘she is too young for all that goes on up there tonight.’
‘Right…What can we do about the hand, cat?’ dad asked.
I paused and thought, ‘we could lock it in somewhere or something,’ I said, ‘or we can just leave it to tidy up.’
‘I’ll go find something, a cage or a padlock to put on something.’
‘Then can we carve the pumpkin?’ Eden asked.
‘We’ll see,’ he replied.
They left and I went to find the disembodied hand. It had finished tidying dad’s bedroom and was moving on to the bathroom. I sat on the window sill and watched it putting things away, wiping things down and changing the towels.
It was a strange sight because it acted like it was attached to a body and was able to just carry out the instructions from the brain. It knew where to put things and where things were and what to do.
My Little Mistress’s spell had worked extremely well even though it was just an unattached hand and not a whole person.
Dad found a suitcase padlock and decided that would do. However, when he saw how clean his room and the bathroom was, he decided to let the hand do the rest of the house before locking it away.
I joined, him and Eden carving the pumpkin in the kitchen. When the evil grinning face was done and the candle inside ready for lighting, dad placed it in the front window, next to the fake pumpkin.
The hand moved into the kitchen. I watched it tidying the mess made by the pumpkin, washing dishes and then it put the dirty clothes in the washing machine and turned that on too. Next it cleaned my litter box, put food in my bowl and then began stroking me.
The hair rose on my back, I went to hiss but the hand was warm and soft. It rubbed gently at my back then my head and scratched behind my ears. It was just like a normal human hand!
Then the hand left me and went back to do more chores. I eat my food then went into the living room.
‘Let’s have an early tea and then you can go get ready,’ dad was saying, he saw me and asked, ‘where is the hand?’
‘Finishing tidying the kitchen,’ I said.
Eden and her dad went to eat and the hand joined me in the living room. I watched it tidying then the doorbell rang. The hand paused then crawled out of the room and into the hallway.
I chased after it and grabbed it by the thumb as dad came out of the kitchen.
‘Keep that thing out of sight!’ he said going to answer the door.
‘No one will think it’s real,’ I said, having thrown the hand back into the living room, ‘they’ll think it’s a Halloween prop.’
‘Let’s not take the chance,’ dad said.
He opened the door and children’s voices called out ‘Trick or Treat!’
‘Looking scary there, kids!’ dad said then handed out the bowl of sweets.
The children laughed, said ‘thank you’ and left.
Dad stopped by the living room. The hand was plumping the sofa cushions.
‘Keep that thing under control and don’t let it out of your sight, MaCavity.’
‘I can,’ I replied slowly, ‘but when you come back, I’ll be going out for the rest of the night.’
‘I can lock it in the suitcase then,’ he replied.
The hand was still tidying when Eden and her dad went out. Eden was dressed as a bride of Dracula and her dad had put on a Frankenstein monster’s costume. They left, Eden chatting happily about going Trick or Treating whilst her dad carried a fake lantern and looked tidied.
The hand vacuumed, dusted, polished, wiped picture frames and the TV. Soon the house looked as clean as it had never done before and the disembodied hand flopped down beside me on the sofa.
I look it at. I was laying down, legs tucked under me, tail swaying from side to side. I had been watching Tv to distracted me from the pulls of going outside. The evening was clear and dry, clouds blew across the sky and the delicious smell of autumn hugged the air.
Magic tingled through me like electricity. Like the beating a drum and humming of power, the magic called me and Pendle Hill, high above was the centre point for it all. From here, I couldn’t see it but I could smell fire all ready and my ears thought they heard singing.
The hand stayed with me for the rest of the time. One or two of the fingers twitched now and then as if the hand was asleep and dreaming. I dozed whilst the light from the TV and Jack O’ Lantern glowed around the room.
I was asleep when they arrived back home. The key in the lock woke me. I raised my head and looked towards the living room door. Eden entered, out of breath, cold but full of energy still.
‘I got so much!’ she gasped and put her Trick or Treat bag on the coffee table. Some sweets spilled out of the overflowing bag.
I sniffed and smelt the night clinging to her; it was fire scented, damp, leaf rotten and sweet underlined.
Dad came in and looked at the hand.
‘It’s been fine,’ I told him.
I got off the sofa and went to Eden. I rubbed against her a few times then we headed butted and I went out.
The night welcomed me, parting around me as I walked quickly. I broke into a run at the end of the street and headed out of the village and towards Pendle Hill.
I passed children and adults going from door to door, flicking Jack O’ Lanterns in windows and decorations on doorsteps. I spotted a handful of witches and familiars making their way along.
A stopped to walk every now and again and catch my breath. If Little Mistress was with me we would be flying on her broom as was traditional. By myself though, I had to use my own four paws.
I looked to the sky and saw with my powers that a few witches were flying passed undercover spells. Their capes and hats stood out most against the dark clouds. I spotted a cat on the end of one broomstick and a few birds and bats about.
Looking to the hill, I saw it a blaze with light. I still had so much longer to go. Well…there was another way. I cast a simple flying spell then an invisible spell and within seconds I was flying low along the path. It was so much easier and less tiring.
Soon, I arrived and cast off the spells. The hill top was packed with bodies, animals and demons. I made my way through the dancing and singing to find a spot by the large fire.
Soaking in the atmosphere, I breathed deeply of Halloween night. My whiskers tingled with all the magic and my ears ached with all the voices.
‘Macavity,’ someone called me and a large black cat came to my side.
I nodded and greeted an old friend.
‘What have you been doing this festival day?’ he asked.
I smiled, flashing my fangs and told him about the disembodied hand my Little Mistress had created.
This story is fictional but I did use some real references which I have linked below. This story was inspired by watching the musical Cats whilst in lock down. I’ve seen this musical countless times on screen and at the theatre. It’s one of my favourite musicals and I love the poem book; Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats as well.
Macavity began speaking to me during the musical and I knew straight away I had to write his story as told by him. As with all the times my characters start talking to me, I have no idea where the story will end up but I always enjoy the journey. I hope you have too.
I wiggled through my house’s cat flip and standing on the back door mat, I shook myself. It had began raining heavily seconds after I had left the old lady’s and I was soaked right through.
‘Warm towel, Macavity?’ dad asked me.
‘Yes, please,’ I said.
He got up and dropped a warm towel on top of me. He rubbed me down then scooped me up and placed me on one of the two empty chairs at the table. I peered over the edge and saw they were eating tea. It was sausages, chips, beans and fried eggs.
‘Dad got paid,’ my Little Mistress explained, ‘so there’s lots of extra things in.’
‘That’s good,’ I said and began washing my ears.
‘And we got a pumpkin too,’ Eden pointed out, excitedly.
Looking to the kitchen sink, I saw a large orange pumpkin on the window sill. It was huge and looked like I could fit inside it.
‘That will make a fine Jack O’ Lantern,’ I declared.
Eden nodded and stuffed her face like she hadn’t eaten all day. Dad was more slow, in his tried, thoughtful way.
‘I wish there was two of me,’ he spoke after some time, ‘then I could here for you tonight and my double could go to work.’
‘Me too,’ Eden replied softly.
‘I’m sorry kiddo,’ Dad answered.
He left soon after, the front door locking behind him as he dashed through the rain to the car. We watched from the front window and Eden waved him off, though I doubted he noticed.
‘What shall we do this evening, Little Mistress?’ I asked.
Eden sat with slumped shoulders and stared at the TV watch was showing a quiz show.
‘Dad’s said that before,’ she whispered, ‘I didn’t think about it then but now…’
Little Mistress looked at me and said, ‘Macavity, do you know a spell to make a double?’
I thought for a moment and replied, ‘that kind of thing is too difficult and dangerous for you, young Mistress.’
‘I don’t care!’ Eden snapped.
She turned off the TV, raced from the room and went upstairs. I ran after her, a bad tingling in my whiskers. Eden bet me to her bedroom, she slammed open her door and began throwing her clothes off.
‘I can’t let you do this, Little Mistress,’ I shouted.
Eden pulled on her black witch’s dress and began getting books, ingredients and her small cauldron out. She sat down, pulled her family’s spell book into her lap and began flipping through the pages.
I jumped up and landed on the book, back arched and hissing maddly.
‘Macavity,’ Eden yelled and tried toss me off the book but I dug my claws in, ripping the page she was open at.
‘I will use all my power to stop you, Little Mistress,’ I growled, ‘you can’t do such a spell. It is wrong.’
Eden threw the book down and I kept my balance on top of it as I hit the floor.
‘Then what’s the point of being a good witch, if I can’t help my dad!’ Eden sobbed as tears dropped from her eyes.
I gathered myself and said, ‘calm down child. Perhaps, there are other ways.’
Eden sprawled across the floor and broke down in frustration. She cried loudly until she was struggling for breath and had to lay there gasping. She shivered and curled up, defeated and weary. She wiped her face with her hands and shut her eyes as her breathing began shuddery.
I went and sat lightly on top of her hip. She moved after a few minutes and sat up, looking at the mess she had made. I rubbed against her knee then crawled into her lap. She pulled the spell book back to her slowly turned the pages.
‘I know of simple helper spells we could try,’ I spoke gently.
Eden wiped her eyes and sniffed.
‘There’s the invisible servant, the cleaners, the dust sprites.’
‘It has to be real,’ Eden said with a shaky breath, ‘if the double is to go to the pub to work in my dad’s place it has to be just like him.’
I frowned and looked up at the ceiling in thought. I heard the wind blowing outside and down the chimney it was making loud gusty sounds. The rain though had stopped, leaving only a few drips dropping off leaves.
‘An impersonation spell then,’ I said, ‘but we will also have to put a clouding spell on top to stop people from looking too closely. This is going to hard Little Mistress and it won’t last more then twenty-four hours at the most.’
‘But then we could cast it again?’ Little Mistress pressed.
‘Only after some time.’
‘What do we need?’ Eden asked.
‘The spell should be in here,’ I said and from the beginning, I flipped through the book to find the right page, ‘Impersonation Potion. For use on self or someone else to create a solid imagine of person that can do simple tasks.’
‘That should do it,’ Eden said and lent over me to see the page.
‘It’s complicated and takes over twenty four hours to complete.’
‘In time for Halloween then.’
I murmured and read what we needed.
‘Let’s try it, please, Macavity,’ Eden begged.
‘All right, Little Mistress, but this won’t be easy and some of these ingredients we don’t have…We shall have to try our best.’
Eden nodded and we set to work. I didn’t have much hope the potion and spell would work. I had been on the receiving end of failed spells before. It wasn’t the end of the world but disasters did happen. I could have told my Little Mistress this but lessons taken are stronger learning tools.
‘We will have to substitute this and this,’ I explained, pointing out the ingredients with a claw, ‘coal should do and you’ll have to use your own blood.’
Eden nodded, the ever attentive pupil, ‘and I can go out and get rain water and soil. What’s this one?’
She pointed at the Latin name for a plant.
‘It’s a poisonous flower,’ I explained.
Going to the cupboard where all the jars and containers were stored I looked through for the best replacement. My Little Mistress had a limited selection of things. Her dad and I insisted that a child witch should only have safe things to use in spell casting.
Thus, a complicated and needy spell like this needed the larder of a professional witch to be fully effective. There was no way certain ingredients could be replaced but if I made some wise choose here, we could make something like a dummy of her dad. It wouldn’t replace him though…My Little Mistress would just have to understand that.
‘Here,’ I said and rose three jars of dried plants over to her, ‘a mixture of these will have to do.’
‘I need….’ Eden began reading the last few ingredients, ‘some of my dad’s hair, a tooth, fingernail, blood…skin? and mmm…erm….’
I peered at the word underneath her finger and spoke aloud, ‘ A mirror that has most recently capture the reflection of yourself or the person.’
‘The bathroom one? but we can’t take that off the wall…’ Eden trailed off.
‘At least we don’t need an empty vessel,’ I counted back, ‘the doubling spell would have demanding one.’
‘What’s that?’ Little Mistress asked.
‘A dead body.’
Eden pressed her lips together and tried not to look disgusted.
I jumped around some of the mess and headed to the door, I turned back and called to Little Mistress, ‘let’s check the bathroom,’ I said.
We went and were lucky that Eden’s dad had done a full prepare before he went to work. We found; hair, nails and skin.
‘We’ll have to do without the tooth. You can use your own blood, it’s close enough your dad’s and look, Little Mistress! His shaving mirror! He’ll have looked in it recently.’
‘Oh, yes!’ Eden cried and took the small mirror from off the top of the sink. With all the things we could get we went back to the cauldron and continued.
It was late by the time it was done and left to simmer. Eden curled in bed and fall asleep quickly in her black dress. I looked at the window longingly but I couldn’t go out whilst the camp stove was still lit and the potion needed stirring every now and then.
I could sense in my whiskers and by my magic that witches and their familiars were arriving. It was two days before Halloween. I signed and lay down before the glow of the gas fire. The room was warm and smelt of the bubbling potion; spicy, earthy and burnt hair.
I yawned and give a wave of my paw to set the metal stick stirring around the cauldron. The potion hissed and crackled, giving off a light red smoke that rose to the ceiling.
Opening the window, I let in the wild wind and though a chill went though my black and white fur, it was good scent the clean night air. A dog howled somewhere, a long call which wasn’t answered. A few minutes later, an owl hooted.
Fighting down the urge to go out, I turned away and went down to the kitchen. Eden’s dad arrived whilst I was raiding the fridge. He saw the light on and came to see what was going on.
‘Working hard too, Macavity?’ he joked when he saw me.
I nodded but didn’t say anything, it was none of his business what Eden as a witch did. I meowed and looked cute at him. He was tried and easily gave in to giving me some food.
He had something to eat himself then left without finishing, turning the kitchen lit out and going upstairs. I finished eating in the dark then went outside for a quick walk around.
The night vibrated with the coming Halloween. More animals were stirring and witches who had arrived from a far were awake in strange rooms, reading and preparing for the spells they wanted to cast on that sacred night.
I went back to the potion. Sniffing it, I knew it wasn’t going to work though I could tell it was brewing something. Perhaps, we’d end up with a ghost or a shadow figure of Eden’s dad, something that would last a few minutes or hours tops.
At the appointed time, I turned the camping stove off and got into bed with Eden. She was warm and soft, so I wiggled close to her chest under the duvet and dozed off as dawn arrived.
I heard Eden’s father arrive at about two AM. He came to check in on us then left. He got into bed and was soon sound asleep like Eden.
I uncurled and slipped to the bedroom floor. Stretching, I went to the window and looked out. It was raining and the cold wind was drifting through the half open window. It was dark outside now, all the lights from the house had gone out and nothing lit the back street.
Closing the window, I decided not to go out. Normally, I enjoyed walking through the empty night streets but the autumn rain put me off. Jumping off the window sill, I got back into bed with Eden and snuggled into the child’s warm. Sleep came back to me fast enough and I only woke again when Eden’s alarm went off.
Uncurling, I padded over to the smiley face clock and turned the alarm off. No school today because it was half term. It was mid-week and only a few days till Halloween. I nosed, Eden how was dozing back to sleep and woke her up.
‘Macavity,’ she mumbled and tried to wave me away.
‘Time to get up!’ I called, ‘we have things to do today.’
‘Like?’ my Little Mistress asked.
‘Decorating for Halloween,’ I stated.
‘Of course!’ Eden cried and threw the duvet back.
She hurried to the bathroom, I followed her and waited whilst she brushed her teeth and washed. Then back to the bedroom to dress in jeans and long sleeved t-shirt. She pulled a hoodie on top and long socks onto her feet. We ran downstairs into the kitchen for breakfast.
‘What time did dad come home, Macavity?’ Eden asked, around a mouthful of cereal.
‘Two AM,’ I replied.
Eden nodded and hurriedly finished eating.
‘Is there nothing else to eat?’ I asked batting my bowl of dried cat food away.
Eden frowned, opened the fridge and looked in. I jumped on the counter and tried to see around her.
‘Ham?’ she said and passed it to me, ‘dad needs to go shopping.’
I wolfed down the ham and it was far better than that fake cubed chicken in my bowl.
‘You had the last tin of tuna,’ Eden added as she moved to the cupboards.
‘Let’s write your dad a shopping list,’ I suggested.
My Little Mistress nodded and we spent some time at the small table writing a list of food and drink. We left that for dad to see and went into the attic to find the Halloween decorations.
The attic was small and the walls were thin boards which hardly blocked access to the neighbouring attics. The chimney breast took up a lot of space too. Eden quickly found the two plastic boxes we needed and I used my magic to help get them down.
Sitting in the hallway, Eden popped off the lids and began to get things out. There were typical plastic pumpkins, furry spiders, white skeletons, glow in the dark bugs and fake cobwebs as well as other things.
‘It’s still raining,’ I pointed out.
Eden nodded and begin untangling some purple lights.
There really were not many decorations to put up and it took only some of the morning for Little Mistress and I to put things out and up. With the large plastic pumpkin set in the front window and the purple lights framing the front door, Eden added the last few skeletons and bugs.
‘Looks better all ready,’ I announced, taking a seat next to the pumpkin.
It was dark outside, the rain had coated the windows and the wind was blowing through the front bushes. The street was quiet, only a dog walker was going past.
Eden sank onto the sofa and turned the TV on. She watched children’s programs and I left her to it after a few minutes. I went upstairs and elevated the boxes back into the attic. I raised the ladder and closed the trap door.
Dad’s door was shut, I went over and opened it. The room was dark. His form was a lump on one side of the bed which was moving with his steady breathing. It would be a few hours yet till he got up.
It would be easier if he had a day time job but he had to take work where he could get it and with no one else to look after Eden, we were alone for most of the the time. I signed and closed the door behind me. My stomach let out a growl as I trotted downstairs, so I went back into the kitchen.
Up on the counter, I walked to a drawer at the far end and opened it. There was an envelope containing money there. I picked it up with my mouth and carried it to my Little Mistress.
I dropped it into her lap and said, ‘let’s go to the corner shop.’
Eden frowned and picked up the envelope. I knew what she would say. The money was for emergencies only.
‘Your dad won’t mind,’ I pressed and rubbed against her arm.
‘He’ll go shopping when he gets up,’ Eden said firmly, ‘You only want tuna and cream anyway.’
I turned away sheepishly.
Eden got up and took the money back into the kitchen drawer.
‘Here,’ she said and give me a handful of fish biscuits.
I ate them gladly then curled up in her lap. I dozed for awhile then my Little Mistress picked me up, placed me down where she had been sitting and went upstairs. I heard her in the kitchen next and guessed she was making her dad a cup of tea and toast to take upstairs to him.
When she passed I called out, ‘did you use the anti-stress potion?’
‘In the tea,’ she answered and went on her way.
I followed her upstairs. Her dad was all ready awake and grateful to see us both. We sat at the end of the bed whilst he eat and drink. Eden didn’t tell him about the potion.
‘I made a shopping list,’ she said instead.
‘That time all ready?’ he muttered, ‘I’ll go then.’
‘Can we come with?’ Eden asked.
Dad eyed me.
‘I’ll stay,’ I announced and jumped off the bed, ‘cat things to do.’
They left soon after. I watched from Eden’s bedroom window. It was still too wet to go out. I went downstairs and turned on the TV and looked for a weather report. I needed to go out soon and search out the familiars and witches that were arriving for the All Hallow’s Eve gathering.
Eden was still young to go but I went for a few hours every year. It was the job of a familiar to attend all coven gatherings with or without their mistress and masters. It was important to know what was going on in all circles. I was also hoping to see some old friends…
The man talking about the weather said it would clear up later and the next few days, including Halloween on the Saturday would be fine enough. I pawed at the sofa and decided what to do next. More food would be good. I turned off the TV and braved the weather to go across the street to the old lady who feed all cats.
Some people would have called her a crazy cat lady but really she was just alone and loved cats. She had a few of her own, fostered more and went out often to trap feral and stray cats. However, in the small village of Pendle in the middle of the countryside there weren’t a lot of non-owned cats that hung around for long.
Entering through the cat flip, I found the old lady in the living room, three of her cats with her. She was in her seventies, lived here all her life and though she’d had a couple of husbands, no children or any relatives left. She had short white hair, a heavy wrinkled but kind face and thick glasses. She was marked with having small pox as a child, she was a fount of local knowledge and often told us stories of the past.
I wrapped myself around her legs, meowing loudly to announce myself.
‘Who have we got here, then?’ she spoke.
I stopped and looked up at her. I put my front paws on her knees and let her get a good look at me.
‘Oh, it’s Macavity! Hello, pet. Have you come for lunch?’
I meowed in reply.
‘It’s salmon today.’
I licked my lips. She always had good food in.
Once I had stuffed myself, I curled in front of the gas fire and slept deeply. It was close to six o’clock when I finally realised the time. The mantle clock chimed the hour and I hurried home through the rain and dark.
At nine o’clock, Eden was in bed and I was sat on the window sill feeling the cool breeze from the half open window. Eden was reading a book from school propped up on pillows and lit by the bedside lamp. The book was about an orphan girl who caused trouble, not interesting to me at all.
Eden’s dad was a bar tender at the local pub; The Red Lion and he was on a night shift, returning long after midnight. Eden’s mother had abandoned her and her father when Eden was eight.
A mental break down, I had overheard was to blame. Eden thought she was off doing missions for her witch Coven, The Moon Thread Circle. I knew it wasn’t true though but Little Mistress didn’t need to know that.
‘Time for sleep, child,’ I spoke.
Eden put the leather bookmark in-between the pages and put the book on the floor. She sorted out the pillows and laid back, looking up at the ceiling. She shut her eyes but soon opened them again.
‘I can’t sleep, Macavity,’ she said and rolled over to face me.
‘You haven’t even tried,’ I told her.
‘Tell me a story,’ Eden demanded.
I sighed, my tail twitching with a mind of it’s own and turned away from her back to the window. I could see down into the back garden and all was quiet out there. Music was playing from one of the houses across the way and a car was driving passed. The back road was only lit by the lights from peoples’ gardens, so it was mostly cast into darkness.
‘You are too old for bedtime stories now, child,’ I answered.
‘Please, Macavity?’ Eden pressed, ‘tell me how you came to me again.’
I dropped my shoulders and turned my head to look into her deep brown eyes. Her smooth, child’s face was tilted up in my direction as she waited with held breath for me to answer.
‘All right,’ I playfully growled.
Eden giggled into her duvet then snuggled down as I moved from the window sill and on to her bed. I sat next her curled form, tail around my legs though the tip was twitching back and forth.
‘It was Halloween, three years ago,’ I began, ‘it had been raining all day but it had stopped in the evening. The air smelt of that rain. And of damp soil. There was also; wood smoke from home fires, spices from the baking of sticky parkin and pumpkin pie mixed with the burnt lids of Jack O’ Lanterns on the doorsteps.’
‘And the witches?’ Eden whispered, ‘where were they?’
I smiled, flashing sharp fangs, ‘the witches,’ I spoke, stretching out the words, ‘ they were gathering a top Pendle Hill. All the Covens in Lancashire of which there are five of and also other Covens from around the UK. Plus, any lone witches that wish to come. They were all gathered up there celebrating All Hallow’s Eve.’
‘One day, I’ll join them up there,’ Eden cut in sleepily.
‘I could sense that tonight was the night I would meet my new Mistress and become her familiar. I transported myself to the place I knew I needed to be and I transformed into the new form you see before you. This is my fifth cat life.’
‘And before that, Macavity?’ Eden uttered her voice fading with the coming of sleep, ‘weren’t you a raven?
I nodded and answered her with, ‘I have taken many forms throughout the centuries; raven, toad, dog, crow, rat and imp. I have served witches both good and evil, powerful and weak, widely recognised and others long forgotten in history. I was created by The Wittchen Mothers like all familiars are. We bound our lives with a single witch and must protect and coach her throughout.’
I settled down, tucking my legs underneath me and wrapping my tail around my side.
‘That Halloween night, I found you trick or treating with your dad. You were dressed as a witch in a pink and black dress and a pink witch’s hat with stars on it. You were carrying a broom in one hand and a plastic orange cauldron in the other. You want from door to door asking for treats until finally you arrived back home.’
‘And then?’ Eden said through a yaw.
I sniffed a laugh and said, ‘you spotted me. A small black and white cat with startling blue eyes, mewing at your front gate. You cried out, “look at the kitty, Daddy!” and your dad replied, “very nice, sweetie” and took you inside. The door closed and I sat on the step crying to be let in. I couldn’t speak to you then because we needed to do the bonding rite.’
I paused, taking in a few breaths then picked up the story, ‘you wanted to let me in but your dad said no. He was determined I would leave and go to my own home. At around midnight, the door was opened and you picked me up and held me to your chest. You were tired, having hardly slept because of the noise I had been making. Your dad had finally given in because he needed sleep too.’
Eden sighed and muttered, ‘then you were mine forever.’
‘Yes,’ I agreed, ‘I led you to your mother’s witch things. I showed you what you were and what to do. We bonded and I could speak to you then. Your father soon found out but he knew that day would come. He had been dreading it. Your mother had told him what she was but he had loved her so much he didn’t mind. He hoped for a son, perhaps he wouldn’t be magic but you were born. A daughter who was all ways going to be witch no matter what.’
I pawed the duvet, flexing my toes up and down as I smoothed the cover out. I listened to Eden’s breathing, it was soft and steady; she was almost asleep.
A car headlight flashed outside; a neighbour parking up outside the back of their home. That light semi-circled the ceiling then went out letting the shadows reclaim their space once more.
I tracked the light then looked towards the window. I heard the car engine switched off, the door opened and a voice sang the ends of a song. There was the creaking of the back gate and the footsteps up to the back door, then quietness once more as the neighbour went inside.
Eden stirred, disturbed by the light and noise. She mumbled something paused then spoke it louder, ‘Kitty?’
I crawled over and on to the pillow next to her head. I put my nose and whiskers to her cheek and tickled her. Eden moaned and brushed a hand across her face and my chin. I curled up next to her, tail wrapped around me, paws tucked in and head resting almost on top of Eden’s out stretched hand.
‘Then?’ Eden breathed into my ear.
‘You had to pick a name for me,’ I whispered, ‘and it couldn’t be just any name. A normal pet name isn’t aloud for a familiar. The name must have a magical weight to it. We were a long time in coming about my name.
Maybe, if your mother and her familiar had been here they’d have helped you. Instead, we went through name after name until finally you came to a poem book about cats from the school library. We went through those poems together and I was thrilled to hear them.
Then we discovered my name; Macavity, the Mystery Cat. It was a good fit for a witch’s cat. And I had never heard of another witch’s cat by that name. In the poem, Macavity is a criminal known as the Hidden Paw and posses mystical powers that help make sure no one can captures him. Of course, I’m nothing like that fictional cat but I do have magical powers.’
Stopping, I snuggled into Eden. Her hot breath clouded my face, her cheeks rosy with sleep and hands clenched as she dreamt. Finally, my Little Mistress had fallen asleep.
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.
It’s September now and six months since I last held you in my arms. I don’t know if you have been receiving anything from me. Your mother is probably withholding all my letters and gifts. I forgive her. She was angry but I hope one day, to get a note from you.
The leaves are falling against the cabin’s windows. The river is running cold and I am more alone then I have ever been before. I miss your sweet smile and small, warm hands.
Today it rained all day which was great for the gardens but not for me because I wanted to sit outside. Instead, I sit in the window box on the landing and with a book, a teapot of tea and the cat.
The servants were all hurrying about because the housekeeper this morning received a letter saying father, step-mother and the twelve year old twins were returning home.
We hadn’t heard from them for the last few weeks and the last letter I got from father was dated Egypt, Cairo 1921, which said both the twins were sick with scarlet fever or something similar. They were staying at a hospital and would write with more news soon.
My lady’s maid had received word from her sister who was my step-mother’s lady’s maid that one of the twins, Henry, had past away from the fever and George, just alive, was weak and unable to do anything. Plans were being made for the trip home.
We had no idea when my family would arrive but the hard nosed housekeeper had whipped everyone into action. The servants were cleaning everything within an inch of it’s life and there was so much noise and bustle it was like one of father’s factories.
That’s why I wanted to be in the garden. I would have been away from this madness! Instead, I had tried to keep out of the way and not demand so much.
I was home from boarding school and hadn’t wanted to go travelling from country to country. Normally, the exotic sights, smells and sounds would have made me desperate to go but I was heartbroken and only in the mood to mop around.
I told my father I would go and spend my time visiting family and friends, attending my studies and perhaps teaching others. It hadn’t really been a lie. I have been visiting people and I have been studying but I’ve been at home all the time and not embracing my freedom from school confinement.
The only person I have confided in as my maid. She is sworn to secrets but I know she’ll tell her sister. It’s just I think that happens, I remember telling my sister Mini everything. We’d crawl into each other’s beds and pull the sheets up and lay there whispering to each other. I wish I could tell Mini everything now. She’d understand and know what to do.
Perhaps, tomorrow I shall go and visit her grave. Take fresh flowers and talk to her. Then I could sit in the church and do some drawing or reading. The little church is lovely and quiet.
No doubt it’s where Henry will be buried. There was nothing in any letters about then bring his body back but I know they will do. Father would want him in the family crypt with Mini and mother, all the other babies and children that have been lost and relatives.
I wonder what the funnel will be like. Mini’s was bright and busy, so many people loved her. Her’s wasn’t the last through, it had been my step-mother’s and father’s third baby; she had lived a few days and then was just gone.
It makes me wonder how many losses I might have……
There’s enough time for that. Night is pressing on the windows, it’s even darker out there because of the rain. Perhaps, tomorrow will be sunny and I can walk in the gardens and forget all about this.
My granny use to say, ‘if these steps could talk what stories they’d tell!’
I’d laugh and say ‘tell me a story then.’
She would whilst we sat on those steps outside her house with the summer sun on our faces and people waving as they went by.
Granny would spin truth and fiction together, making her simple life exciting for my childhood self. There’d be stories of her dancing the night away with my granddad, long days working in the cotton factory down the road and her adventures as a nanny in London.
My favourite stories were the ones set in the war. Granny was a teenager and whilst her brothers, baby sister and mother moved away to the Devon to live with cousins, granny stayed in Manchester and worked in a factory making uniforms and other clothes for the soldiers.
There was something that fascinated me about that time. It seemed a different world with secrets still unknown.
Years and years later, the sad time arrived and granny’s house was for sale. My parents lived in Devon and though I had stayed in the Manchester for work, I had my own place. I did debate having my granny’s house but too much work needed to be done and I couldn’t offered that. It was easier to sell the place and try to move on.
‘Is there anything else you want to take?’ one of the moving men I had hired asked.
I looked back at the house and saw the front steps. I nodded and said, ‘I want those steps.’
The man was confused and I realised it did sound little silly.
‘I think that’s slightly above me,’ the man replied slowly.
Argument bubbled on my tongue but I swallowed and told him to go get the others and I’d help.
After, with the worn stone steps heaved into the moving van, the man told me that was properly one of the oddest things he’d had to shift.
My granny’s steps are outside my front door now. I sit on them with my own children and tell them all kinds of stories.
I’d had the dream since a child but what child didn’t dream of owning their own sweet shop?
Things for me though had just fallen into place like it was meant to be my fate since birth. Or maybe, I just got lucky?
My uncle had a general shop which had been his father’s corner shop in the forties. The general shop sold everything you could want and things you didn’t know you needed. The stock was often seasonal and local; milk from the farm down the road, autumn apples and cider, flowers from Mr. Langes’s allotment and tools from the town’s smithy.
I always remember the smell when I entered, announced by the Victorian bell, it was a strange mix of pipe tobacco, freshly baked bread and sickly sweet ice buns, varnished wood and newspaper ink.
The sight was always one of a packed room and colourful packets and many objects placed around. It seemed you might get lost in a maze of goods and the placement of things made little sense as there was no direct order. You could find washing up liquid next to tinned peas, hair brushes next to carrots etc.
My cousins worked in the shop and I’d hang around with them. We’d take some fruit or sweets or crisp and pop and go out to play. Why didn’t they have to pay for things? I asked them. If we only take a few things it’s never noticed, came the reply.
The golden years of childhood in the seventies and eighties faded. I entered the adult world as did my cousins and we kept in touch. I moved away, moved back, did random jobs and had many relationships.
I saw the post online one evening, alone in my rented apartment. My cousins were closing the shop. I sent one of them a message to ask why and it was a simple answer; too much money being lost and no customers. It was the fate of all small shops now.
I had written back before I had given it any real thought; could I rent the shop from you and start up a sweet shop?
I don’t know, she typed back, I don’t want you to end up in the financial issues we are facing.
Quickly tapping on my laptop keys I answered, I understand, please let me give it a try.
Reflecting on the past and how things came to be is difficult but also interesting. I smile as I stand behind the polished counter and serve child after child, adults and families who are constantly returning and bring a new wave of people with them.
The shop no longer smells like it did before; it was cleaner and sweeter now. There are shelves bottom to top across three walls and one of those is behind my counter and the pick ‘n’ mix selection. The floor is open to the crowds and the window display is a rainbow of bright colours and calling temptations.
My cousins can’t believe I was able to turn things around for their family business. They’ve helped me a lot and we work alongside each other to keep this little shop going.
I’m on the internet too which has become my main source of income. I ship to anywhere and import too. American candy and Japanese snacks are my highest earns. It’s hard work and I don’t get a break but I love it and it’s like where I’m meant to be.