Night was pressing its face against the kitchen window watching Val as she washed the dishes in the sink. It had been a long time since they had eaten dinner but there had been no time for cleaning up afterwards. Val sighed and placed another plate in the drying rack. The house was silent, a strange sensation after all the noise before.
It was the first day back at school tomorrow the new calendar on the notice board declared. The children hadn’t been happy about the early night and the prospect of the coming morning. Val’s ears still echoed at the screams and shouts of the tantrums, the slamming of doors and throwing of books.
Val looked up at the ceiling, her hands wrinkling in the hot water and soap bubbles popping. There was no movement from upstairs now. Before it had sounded like a stampede of elephants. Val wondered if her husband had fallen asleep with their youngest again. Five month old Jay and three year old Zak shared a room and were the hardest of the children to settle to sleep.
Washing their plastic plates and cutlery, reminded Val how she hadn’t want anymore children after Aaron. Three was enough but then Zak had been a bonus blessing and Jay had followed soon after as if God had caught up answering all her past prayers for a baby at once.
Rosie had come first, now aged eleven and taking after Val in everything. Lottie, eight and Aaron, six were glued to each other and always up to mischief. They seemed to have become the twins that Val had miscarried during the second IVF treatment. Though, she’d had Lottie and Aaron naturally.
Unplugging the sink, Val dried her hands and flicked the kettle on. She thought about going upstairs to check on her husband. Sleeping sitting up in the corner wouldn’t do his aching neck any good. Tired and reveling in the quiet, Val made herself an instant gingerbread latte and went to in the living room. It was messy with children’s things and she had to fix the sofa before sitting down.
She wrapped her hands around the hot mug and lent back, shutting her eyes. There was a blessing in this snatched moment of peace and self-care. Before she dozed off, she opened her eyes and put the mug down. Val could have turned on the tv and found something to watch or she could have go on her phone but the stillness was something to be saved and not broken.
Sipping the latte, Val rolled in the quietness and watched the night moving by the un-curtained window.
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.
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.
The rustling under the bed woke Penny. Moving the duvet away, she peered under the bed, looking for the source the sound.
A faint glowing child stared back at her.
‘Who are you? Penny asked.
‘I am Sally,’ came the whispered reply.
‘Why are you under my bed?’ Penny demanded.
‘I was only playing,’ Sally answered and crawled out.
Penny turned on the lamp and saw that Sally was hovering off the floor and admitting her own light which was a pale cream colour. Sally had long hair that moved as if caught in the wind and it was the same with the long dress she wore.
‘Who are you playing with?’ Penny asked.
‘Nobody. I’m alone. I was practising my spooking.’ Sally mumbled as she spun on the spot.
‘Spooking?’ Penny wondered.
‘Yes, I am a ghost. It’s what we do. We scare people.’ Sally explained, ‘were you scared?’
Penny shook her head, ‘you look like a normal girl to me, expect for the glowing of course. How old are you?’
‘I am eight.’
‘So am I!’ Penny cried, ‘do you want to be my friend?’
Sally thought what to do as she drift to the floor and sat on the rug.
Penny could see right through Sally but Penny felt more fascinated than scared. Here was a friend just as she needed one and it didn’t matter if Sally was different. Didn’t Penny’s teacher, Mrs Greene, said ‘it was good everyone was unique like a snowflake because if everyone was the same the world would be a very boring place!’
‘Let’s play with the dollhouse,’ Penny said and got out of bed.
‘You really want to play with me?’ the ghost girl asked.
Penny nodded and went across the room to turn on the light. Her bedroom became more defined, showing that most of the room was taken up by toys and child size furniture. The doll’s house was an impressive Victorian style wooden structure which at first glance someone might mistake for a real one. However it was only fifty or so years old and only loosely modelled on the manor it had been copied from. The house stood on it’s on table pushed against the back wall.
‘You’ve lost some of your glow now,’ Penny pointed out.
‘Yes,’ said Sally getting up and floating over to join Penny before the doll’s house, ‘light makes ghosts less visible because we are made up of light.’
‘Shall I turn it off again?’ Penny asked.
‘It’s fine. I can make myself more solid. See?’ the ghost girl spoke and before Penny’s eyes Sally became less see through.
Penny opened the front of the doll’s house and they looked inside. It was well made and each of the rooms was carefully decorated with real wallpaper and flooring. The correct furniture and decorations were in their right places and it looked like you could step inside and live a comfortable life inside.
There were four floors which explained why the doll’s house was so large. The ground floor had the front hallway in the middle, to the left was a large kitchen and to the right was divided into a servants’ sitting room and servant’s bedroom. The first floor had a long sitting room on the right and a small dining room next door. The third floor had two bedrooms- the master room and a guest room. Finally, the attic had a large nursery and a joint bedroom for the children.
The dolls were little china figures and they were around the same age as the house and had been originally made for the fake manor. The dolls could be made to stand or sit or hold things. There was a father, a mother, three children- a boy, a girl and a baby, there was a cook, a nanny and maid. Each doll was easily distinguished by their clothes; the family wore brightly coloured and fancy outfits and the servants were drab.
‘My great grandfather made this for my granny when she was a child,’ Penny explained, ‘I never met him but mum says his job was making toys. He made other doll’s houses but we only have this one now. We have to be careful because it’s old.’
‘It is really pretty,’ Sally said, ‘I never had a doll’s house.’
‘When did you become a ghost?’ Penny asked then wondered if that was a rude question.
‘I am not sure. Time is not important for me anymore.’
‘Did you live in this house before?’
‘I do not know. I think I lived around here but my house is gone now,’ Sally said sadly.
‘That’s okay, you can just live here with me,’ Penny responded, ‘here.’
Penny handed the mother doll to Sally and the ghost girl made the doll hover.
‘Can’t you touch or hold anything?’ Penny asked in surprise.
‘This is the only way I can do things. I use my energy with my mind,’ Sally explained.
‘That’s pretty cool!’
‘Do you think so?’ the ghost asked shyly.
Penny nodded quickly, ‘I wish I could move things with my mind!’
Sally giggled and moved the mother doll into a the living room and sat her down in a red chair by the glowing fireplace.
For a time, the two girls played then with a yawn and a rub of her eyes, Penny looked back at her bed.
‘Do ghosts sleep?’ Penny asked.
‘Sort of. It’s hard to describe….’ Sally answered.
‘I think,’ Penny answered as she got up, ‘I should go back to bed now.’
Sally didn’t reply but Penny felt the air get colder and sadder.
‘Will you come back and play with me tomorrow?’
‘Could I?’ Sally cried.
‘Yes,’ Penny said with a small laugh as climbed into bed, ‘everynight if you want!’
‘I would like that,’ Sally declared.
‘And we can be best friend,’ Penny uttered through a yaw as she snuggled down.
‘I would like that very much!’ the ghost girl said.
Sleep was a stranger to me, she was an elusive muse, a reflection out of reach. I did all I could to dance with her; exercise, diet, no screens or reading, no coffee or tea, mediation and just laying there waiting. Nothing worked.
I decided not to waste this time with trying and waiting. I turned to quiet actives; reading, writing, jigsaw puzzles and box set watching. Sometimes I would doze off and other times I would be awake to hear the breakfast time news.
The idea of seeing the sunrise came to me one morning when, watching from the curtain covered window, I saw how the first sunlight changed the colour of the room. I thought, how many people actually see the sunrise?
The next night, I looked when the sunrise was timed for and an hour or so before then, I went out to a local beauty spot which was a large lake.
There I saw a glorious sunrise. so many colours touched the calm water as the sky melted from black to blue. My breath was stuck in my throat and my eyes couldn’t behold the raw wonder before me. I felt the first brush of warmth on my skin like a lover’s arms wrapped around me in a gentle embrace.
I took photo after photo trying to capture what I saw but the imagines couldn’t compare to the real thing. I didn’t want it to end but of course it did. All the blurs of colours settled and became what everyone saw during each day. The lake’s magic vanished and the water became a normal blue again like the sky above all the colours had gone.
I stayed for a long time then left but that first warmth came with me and every time I closed my eyes I saw all those colours dancing again.
I didn’t explore the rest of the manor. Hungry and tiredness stalled me. I opened the tin labelled tomato soup. It seemed okay inside, so I put into a pan and close to the fire to warm.
Taking the workman’s boots off and placing them close by, I turned to check on King. He had decided to lay down and rest for a few minutes. He seemed content and warm enough.
I took off the sleeping bag, feeling warm enough from the fire just to be in my underwear. I stirred the soup with a spoon and tasted it. There was a slight metallic ting and it was still cold. Putting it closer into the fire, I picked up the empty tin and looked for used by date.
It was hard as the label had worn but then I picked out some numbers and it seemed the date was over six years ago. Pushing the tin away, I frowned at the red soup and decided if it was boiled then it would be fine. I needed to eat.
Sipping some of the water, I listened to the manor creaking in the storm. The sea could really be heard now, added by the gale force winds into the sides of the island. I couldn’t hear the rain it was too lost.
Listening to the manor move made me think about ghosts. I didn’t believe despite the stories I had heard. There was a woman in grey who was seen from one of the upstairs window. Was she Lady Elizabeth? There was also a baby heard crying – the infant son she had lost or another child? The sounds of someone walking around and wailing had also been heard.
I looked up at the ceiling as if a expecting a ghost to appear. Laughing in my head, I check on the soup then picked up one of the books. It was from the 1800’s, on science of a sort. It was hard to read and I didn’t understand it. I placed it down and picked up another one;
Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
Laughing out loud at the how weird this was, I opened the yellow pages and wondered how old was this book? I found the date; 1831. So, it was early but it didn’t mean anything else to me. I had never read it, just seen the movies. I had the time now. I flipped the pages and saw it was illustrated. The ink pictures were very detailed and dark.
It was hard reading but I got through three or four pages and then my soup was ready. I poured it into a bowl because the pan was too hot to eat out of. The soup was warming and there was still that taste of metal in the background but it was good enough to get the rest of the chill out me and settle my stomach.
When I had finished, I checked on King. I had nothing to give him and he had enough water. He was too quiet. Even in his stable he wasn’t like this but he’d been in shock and made cold by the sea water. Still though…
‘Are you feeling all right, King?’ I whispered to him.
He nuzzled into me, searching for an apple or carrot. I give him more snacks then he should have.
‘Sorry, I have nothing.’
He snorted and moved away, flickering his tail about. He searched around the floor, sniffing here and there. He took a drink of water then seemed to settle again.
I felt guilty I couldn’t take care of him any better. perhaps, I should have gotten some of the rotten hay from that stable at least then he would have had something. How much harm could that have done him though? Yes, it was wise not to.
Leaving him, I made a sort of nest on one of the chairs then stacked up the fire and got settled for sleep. I was surprisingly tried. The room was now hot, my stomach full and I was drained after the fall and roaming the manor.
Sleep came to me and I dreamt of strange things; of falling into the sea and finding the manor at the bottom. I was walking in the graveyard and there were baby and child coffins everywhere. Then I was trying to get out of the manor but it was like a maze and I couldn’t escape.
King woke me by pressing his nose into my face. I stirred and reached for him but he had stepped away. I sat up and saw the fire had gone out.
‘What time is it? I had weird dreams,’ I told King.
I drank some water and put the workmen’s boots on. Crossing the hall, I went outside and saw it was daytime. The sky still dark but the storm had passed. I hurried back in, dressed and put King’s tack on.
I took him outside and he was more then happy to start eating whatever greenery he could. Leaving him to it, I went down the driveway and got to the edge of the causeway. The sea was still covering the way. The waves chopping and churning over the rocks. I couldn’t tell if the tide was going out or not but I really hoped it was.
Remembering my phone, I hurried back inside and snatched it up. I tried turning it on but the screen stayed black. Sinking onto the armchair, I wondered what to do. Tears came to my eyes and wiped them away. Thoughts tumbled in my head and it wasn’t until my eyes forced on Frankenstein that I came back to my sense.
I gathered the book and the other five up. I placed them in the basket and took that outside then I went back in and got some fresh water for King and some for myself. I had found some empty glass jars in the kitchen and I used this to make bottles of water. Once again I search for food but found nothing.
I grab a sleeping bag and did think about open another tin but decided against it. We need to get off the island as soon as we could. Going outside again, I saw that King was happy with his breakfast, also the fresh air was perking him up. Setting the water jars into the basket, I looked at him in the daylight and saw that there was some tenderness to his legs which meant he had some cuts and bruises.
‘Well, you could have gotten off worse,’ I said to him, I’m going to keep an eye on the tide. Don’t wander off.’
Taking the basket, I went to the end of the driveway and looked for a good place to sit. I wasn’t worried about losing King as I was at the only way off the island. I zipped up the sleeping bag and placed that on the wet grass. I sat down on and watched the sea rocking back and forth. Then I pulled out Frankenstein and read some more.
The tide eventually went out. The Grey Causeway appearing from under the waves. The sky was clearing and the sun was out warming things up. I drank some water then put that and the book in the basket. I abandoned the sleeping bag and went to find King. He hadn’t wondered far.
I decided not to mount him but led him across the Causeway. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to risk him falling again but even if he did it was safer, I was worried about his legs. He seemed to be walking if a little slower and he’s quietness worried me. It was like all the wildness had been knocked out him and he had become meek and over tame.
The Grey Causeway was wet and slipping with large pools in every gap between in the rocks. I saw crabs and other creatures about and seaweed masking the rocks. I watched my step and made sure that the rein’s were loose and that King wasn’t walking too close behind me. My riding boots didn’t have a great grip on them and they weren’t made for rough walking.
I watched the sea lapping at the Causeway. The waves were topped with white and were dark blue, green underneath. I couldn’t see the bottom but at least it was still going out. I had to keep my eyes down and it seemed we were walking the Causeway forever. The basket was heavy in my hand and I put it up into the crook of my elbow or I switched hand with King’s reins.
For a few moments, I thought we were never going to leave the island but as I stopped to get my breath, I saw we had made a lot of distance from the manor and the beach was close now. This helped to push me on and I did pick up my pace as the tide had been out for longer the closer we got to the end.
At last, my feet and King’s hoofs hit the sand.
‘We made it back,’ I cried and rubbed King’s muzzle and head.
We stopped for a longer break. I drink some water and shared some with King. I sat in the damp sand and King stood beside me. I watched the sea and the distant island. Clouds were forming again and the sun was playing peek-a-boo. It was going to rain again.
‘Let’s go home,’ I said and got up.
Picking up the basket and leading King on again, we walked along the beach.
There was nothing out here but nature. I got up on the wooden fence of the pier and let the wind blow though my hair. Sea salt tingled my lips and waves lapped in my ears. It was a calm, cool night. The sky was dotted with stars and the moon was full.
My torch lay abandoned on a near by bench. Normally the pier was lit up to tempted people here to go on the rides, play the fun fair themed games and spend money. The lights hadn’t come on this year, there was no point because people had been told to stay at home.
I could no longer bare it and had escaped into the night. I was tried of the arguments with two teenagers, tried of trying to do maths with my other children and tried of trying to keep my toddler entertained for long enough for me to do some housework. I didn’t regret having seven children, I just had never imagined we’d been all trapped at home for weeks on end.
I shut my eyes, breathed in deeply and listened not just my ears but my heart. The sea whispered, singing the song it had done since the beginning of time. The waves rasped across the sand and shells on the beach behind me. A seagull called close by disturbed by my presence.
For a few seconds I thought about letting go. I could fall down with the whistling wind and part the wave below. The sea would consume me gladly and wrap me in a watery embrace for all eternity.
I felt the forward lurch in my body and placed my hands on the top rail to catch myself. I looked into the dark water below and decided not today. I got down, grabbed my torch and walked back the way I had come.
I had responsibilities and so much love still to give but the sea would always be waiting for me.