Saturday, July 8, 2017

The White Cat

An old man began seeing a white cat in the mirrors throughout his apartment. He had collected antique mirrors for most of his adult life, so there were plenty of opportunities for sightings in every room.

The man owned no pets. Often in these antique mirrors the cat could be seen cleaning itself or perched on a windowsill enjoying a view of the city. The old man would swing around and look, but of course there was no cat on the windowsill, no cat daintily licking its paw as in the mirror.

One day, the man awoke and looked at a large bureau mirror across the room and saw a white paw protruding from its surface. “Get away!” he yelled, and the paw retreated. He saw the image of the cat fleeing into the backwards recesses of the mirror. It hid behind the reflection of his bed, although there was no cat behind his bed itself. He had checked.

The man began worrying that he had suffered a stroke, but the medical tests he underwent all came back negative. He was in good health, despite his age.

He visited a psychic who told him that the cat was a harbinger of death. He asked if this meant his death. She said she did not know. She urged him to paint the surface of all the mirrors with black paint. She explained that if the cat did indeed come over to “our side,” it would mean death.

The man defaced all his mirrors, ruefully. He sealed them with black paint. And then he covered them with sheets. He realized he was ruining a valuable collection, and his apartment looked ridiculous to him, but the seer had told him that it was his only option. She explained that he could not simply discard the mirrors. That would be too dangerous.

One afternoon shortly after that, the man woke from a nap to see the white cat curled up at the foot of his bed, fast asleep. He screamed, but it was a muffled sort of cry and he felt his heart seize at that moment. His head fell back upon his pillow for the last time.

As the man was being zipped into a black body bag, his upstairs neighbor, a redhead actress of twenty-four, poked her head in his open apartment door. She was holding a white cat against her breast. A breeze played through the white sheer curtains of the living room. These wraiths were lifting and falling in the dead man’s open window.

“Sorry. She comes down the fire escape sometimes. I’m afraid she’s a bit of a nosy parker. I think she liked him. He seemed a nice old man. If a bit odd.”

Angela tsk-tsked the cat in her arms as she walked upstairs, saying a little prayer for the dead man under her breath.

When she got inside her apartment, she released the cat, who jumped up on her bed at the same time she sat down there. She felt a strange little sense of loss, although she had never known the man. She shuddered when she thought about the mirrors in his apartment, how they had all been painted black. Who knows what happens in the minds of the aged, the lonely. She looked across the room at a mirror hanging on her wall and saw her white cat lying behind her on the bed, already curled up, eyes squinted shut. But she also saw another white cat. It was sitting on the bed next to her pet. It was not interested in her cat. This reflected cat was making eye contact with Angela via the mirror. The young woman spun her head around fast at the jolt of that intense stare. But, of course, there was only one cat there.

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