Everyday, he looks right at me. Not as a cat, but as a mysterious sentry who knows more than he should.
Minnie looked hard at the cat that appeared to be watching her as she walked past the window. It was always the same whenever she saw it… sitting, just as it was now, staring, unblinking and still. It seemed positioned at the window as if it no longer had a need to close it’s eyes or rest from what Minnie had come to think of as a sort of guard duty. Unlike most of the cats around the village, she never saw this one outside the house, in fact she never saw it in any of the other windows of the house but this one.
Minnie had moved here from America not quite a year ago when she had married a man she’d met through an online dating service. Happily in love with him and her life here, she had more time on her hands than she could ever remember and her husband teased her sometimes about her active imagination. He knew better than to try to chat on days when she went straight to her computer after coming in from a walk eager to record the stories she dreamed up while exploring the ancient village. There were many advantages to living in a place that was so old that its existence had been recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 especially for someone who had been creating other lives in her head since she was old enough to read a story by herself.
With so much history all around her, how could she not feel the past speaking to her knowing as she did that people had walked the same ground for hundreds of years before her. When she spoke about the energy of a place as in ” something feels funny here,” her husband would dismiss it gently, but not disrespectfully being content as he was that all things could be explained with logical facts and a rational discussion.
Minnie had experienced one too many unexplainable “awarenesses” that had later been confirmed as having happened to let go of what she felt to be true. She would never have called herself a psychic, but sometimes she had dreams that had messages for people she knew…what she liked to think of as love letters from the dead. A vivid dreamer her whole life, she usually remembered her dreams with great clarity, but even she had pooh poohed her waking and sleeping “connections” until one night she had a dream that could not be ignored.
Much of the time, her dreams made no real sense to her and aside from noting the detail and sometimes writing them down, she had rarely thought too much about them until one night years ago not long after her father had died she had dreamed of an uncle who had died of breast cancer. Minnie had known little about this man, having grown up disconnected from that part of the family for most of her early years. If asked to describe him, she would have said that he had worked all his life in different offices for insurance companies, wearing wing tips with his suits and ties, a type of shoe that while enjoying a kind of constant popularity in business men, still screamed “old man shoes” especially when tied up with tiny waxed laces. He had smoked cigarettes for years, and never seemed too interested in healthy living, barely taking time off for vacations and rest with his family. His whole life had seemed dedicated to his job and providing for the people who depended on him. He was just reaching an age where retirement was within sight when he received a cancer diagnosis and died a few months later.
Minnie had gotten pretty upset over his death ranting to anyone who would listen as in why would he die just as he was getting ready to “live” or at least what she thought of as living. Here was a man who had never taken time for hobbies or fun and now he was gone. What was the point of it all, she’d thought to herself feeling more anger that she should have at the early death of someone she had felt she’d barely known?
It was a dream she’d had four days after his death and a subsequent conversation with her aunt that made her decide that perhaps she should pay attention to more of the things she had jokingly referred to a messages from the universe, but had really always thought one might argue as much for the coincidence of things as one could the possibility of a psychic connection.
In her dream, she was with her uncle walking and talking with him on a cattle ranch in Montana or Wyoming. He was wearing a sheepskin jacket as if it were very cold and while she had not been wearing a coat, she not felt cold at all. There was a very clear awareness in the dream that he was dead, but he seemed happier and more at home than he had ever been when living and when she woke she thought it odd that she saw him out west on a ranch when he’d had spent his life primally in the Southeast, in office buildings, working with people and numbers. Even though her dream had made little sense, Minnie had felt a bit more peaceful about his passing and got back to the business of her own life with no more thoughts about the dream or her uncle until a few weeks later when her aunt came to town to buy a marker for his grave.
It was very clear to Minnie that her aunt was still in deep mourning when she arrived and so she had avoided too much talk about her uncle until they were setting the table for dinner. It was then she had decided tell her aunt about the dream that had made her feel better in hopes that it might possibly ease some sadness in the room. She had hesitated at first thinking that her aunt might be offended because of her religious views, but the dream had given Minnie comfort and she thought it might do the same for her aunt.
As Minnie told her aunt the dream, her aunt stopped putting silverware on either side of the dinner plate in front of her and looked up at Minnie and said, ” Did you know he read every Louis L’ Amour novel ever written? ” These were shocking words to Minnie that carried a huge meaning. For one, she had no idea that her uncle had read anything for pleasure and two, she would never have expected it to have been a series of books based on a western cowboy theme. Minnie had thought then that perhaps she had visited briefly with her uncle in his version of heaven and that it had been his way of saying, ” I’m all right…let go.”
Given experiences like that she thought how could she not believe now when she got one of her feelings or had a dream that seemed to carry a message with it. Minnie knew without a doubt that she had dreamed of her husband on her eve of turning 47 four months before they had met and she had told him of her dream within eight weeks of meeting. News like that might have scared off another man especially one who didn’t believe in the unexplainable or the need for marriage at his age, but he had stayed constant and within a short time, they were married and living a life that fit together so easily you might never have known they hadn’t been together for years.
Minnie thought about this as she snapped a photograph to take back to show him. She’d seen this cat many times, but when she had asked the man who lived there about the cat when she saw him at the pub, he had acted a bit uncomfortable and had said in a loud voice that, ” He didn’t have a bloody cat! ” Minnie knew that this picture would prove what she’d been saying about seeing it in the same window of the old house at the edge of the village green. With parts of the Mansion House as it was called dating back to the fifteenth century, Minnie was sure it had its share of ghosts, but this cat was real and she was going to prove it.
While she didn’t visit the pub as often as some who showed up every evening for a bit of drink and news of the day, she made sure she was waiting when the man who had argued that he had no cat came through the door for his evening pint. She was so excited by her evidence that he had barely stepped up to the bar and was still waiting for Roger the barman to fill his first glass when she shoved the camera with the image above under his nose with a loud, ” Look! “
He took the camera from her looking at it long enough for the cat’s image to register with his brain and dropped the camera onto the bar like it was too hot to hold. Backing away from the pint that was now before him, he headed for the door with everyone watching as he did something he never done before by leaving the pub without having had a drink. Minnie stared after him confused and mildly irritated that she had not had a chance to hear him admit that he did have a “bloody cat” after all. She turned back to see that Roger had picked up the camera from his spot behind the bar and after taking a long look began to tell a story about the cat in the window. Roger’s family had lived in this area for so many generations that he was the man to go to for any questions she’d had about local places and folklore. Usually he answered her queries with great patience and this time was no exception, but as he began, she could see that even he had been a bit shaken by the image she had captured earlier.
This cat he began, is believed to have belonged to Obadiah Reynolds who had the Mansion House remodeled in 1627. There’s a stone that commemorates the completion of the building work that was erected in 1636, but the story of his cat Mephisto begins after the work had been underway for a year or so around the time Mephisto first showed up at the door in 1628. Pulling up a stool, I took a seat at the bar and picked up the pint that had been left untouched. From the look on Roger’s face, I felt sure this was going to be a good and listened closely as he began…Mephisto was a gray haired feline with eyes so green they looked yellow to anyone who stared at them long enough to notice that they never blinked. He came to the village on a windy day in late October when the rain couldn’t decide to stay or go and while everyone around him was wet to the bone with the early winter rain, Mephisto arrived at the doorstep perfectly and unmistakably dry….
I want to thank everyone who has been involved in TMAST over the last thirteen weeks. It has been a lot of fun for me and a great learning experience. I’m going to be taking a break from TMAST though until after the new year. With a trip back to Atlanta in two weeks, I have a great deal to complete before I leave and need to focus on that for a while. I’ll be stateside with family for three weeks and I know participating in TMAST will not be possible for me then either so in the interest of balance…I’ll be putting it on the shelf for a while. I will still be blogging so keep an eye out for me and I will consider beginning TMAST again in January.
For now, I want to thank Judy Harper who has been writing a story a week for as long as I have. Her story for this week can be found here.
I also want to thank Gaelikaa for her contributions to TMAST and her story for this week can be found here.
Lastly, I want to thank Kerstin Martin over at Gipsylife who shared some of her dreams yesterday which I think may have had a subconscious effect on the direction of my story today. Pop over to see her post…you’ll be glad you did.
Just in case anyone is wondering about the dream Minnie had about her uncle as well the one she had about the man who became her husband…those really happened just as they’re written…except for the Minnie in my story was really me.
As for Mephisto…well, there really was a cat in the window.