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She notices the kitten around noon.

Black cat or not, whether her friends whisper about misfortune following her in to form of an animal, Maria doesn’t really see a reason to make it into something bigger than it is. An animal.

The cat’s too tiny to be intimidating, to be some harbinger, an omen designed to resign a person to their upcoming downfall. Having watched it creep forward on legs too thin to support its own paws, fur matted and patchy, there was less worry about it having hold over any misfortune other than its own.

So, Maria doesn’t mind.

She feels bad, of course she does, but there’s not really much she can do to help it. It skitters every time she tries to step nearer, hisses if she bends down within personal space that is not her own.

The kitten watches her, weary, but it does not come closer.

“Don’t you find it creepy?” Rhiannon whispers, as they both head to the greenhouses. As the creature treks beside them, leaping towards the walls and paws digging into the grooves between each brick, almost ethereal with the way it glides forward, cushioning each step with a bounce against the pad of each paw.

It is almost unnatural, the grace with which it glides with.


“That thing,” Rhiannon continues, “It’s just staring at you with those beady little eyes it has.”

Maria shrugs, holds the door open, partly for her friend, and mostly so the kitten can dart inside, tail brushing past her leg in a way that leaves her own hair standing on edge. It feels like anticipation.

“She’s cute.”

“Not the word I’d use,” Rhiannon whispers, brushing her fringe from her eyes. “And she? You know the moment you start thinking of it as anything other than an it, you’ll get weirdly attached.”

Stepping further into the greenhouse, Maria lets the door swing closed behind her. It gasps as it closes, a rough release of air, breathless, leaving her alone to the humidity of the greenhouse. Glasses foggy, with only the sound of Rhiannon’s mistrust and the slightest hint of a mewl from the kitten, Maria rubs at the lenses with her sleeves.

She stops half step, turns in the direction of the cat, and pushes her glasses back up the rim of her nose.

“Doesn’t she sound cute?”

“Oh no,” Rhiannon says now. “You’re already attached, aren’t you?”

Maria hums. She scoops a trowel from the floor, places it with the other tools, and heads towards where the kitten is watching her. She holds her hand out, hoping this time, the creature will sniff, maybe butt a cold nose against the sensitive part of her palm.

She doesn’t. The cat simply blinks and lets out another mewl.

Maria glances around – shadows follow her, her own, not her own, the greenhouse blurring plant and human life together, filled to the brim with shade – and spots a small bowl.

She’ll need to warn people about picking the strawberries again.

“What can I say?” Maria muses, scooping the bowl up and heading towards the water line. The lever lets out a low groan as she turns it clockwise, water spluttering out in short bursts, like something is caught inside. Behind her, the kitten’s mewl increases in volume. “I really love cats.”

She fills the bowl, places it beside potted hydrangeas. Mauve petals clump together, bristled by whiskers as the cat comes closer. It pauses before the plate, whiskers twitching as it sniffs, making sure the water inside the bowl is safe.

“There’s a difference between liking cats and liking trouble.”


For a moment, all she can feel is disappointment. Mouth parting, Maria can’t find the right words. She removes her glasses instead, rubs at them for something to do. As if taking off her glasses will leave Rhiannon blind to her furrowed brow, the way she teethes at her lip, trying to hold off on saying anything.


“You think she’s trouble?” Maria points to the cat, to where its started lapping up water, tongue flicking out, pale and raw. It drinks with a ferocity that makes her wilt more that the petunia’s they’d come down to re-plot and try to save. “She’s just a kitten.”

Rhiannon scoffs, “Please, the only people who like black cats are witches and fools. Which one are you?”

There’s something about how set she is in her superstitions that leaves Maria rolling her eyes. When they’d been kids, it’d been admirable, but they’re older now, and it’s just frustrating.

“Oh, because black cats are magical, right?”

The concept is laughable. The colour of a cat’s fur dictating magic. So what? Black cats see the future and white cats add extra years to your life if you see one? It’s all a load of nonsense.

“They’re only ever around when they’re taunting you with a poor future?” Maria asks. The concept sets her teeth on edge, molars grinding together.

“They’re called omens for a reason Maria.”

Logic it seems, is going out the window. Obviously, her friend is insane.

“Okay fine, I’ll bite.” Rhiannon arches an eyebrow. “So lets just say black cats – not any other cat, only the black cat – somehow have clairvoyance and can see the future. Why are they only seeing the bad things?”

Rhiannon opens her mouth. Maria raises her hand in response, continuing regardless.

“Maybe they’re seeing good things too, and they’re symbols of great fortune?” She lowers her hand. Still thinking, considering. “Why, even if they were stuck seeing disasters only, would they want to taunt you about it?”

She’d say that cats aren’t evil like that, but when Maria had turned three, her older brother Rowan had brought home a little tabby, who’d found joy in being an asshole.

“Why when it comes to seeing the future,” Maria asks, “do people assume that the creature with the foresight is intrinsically devious?”

“They’re not exactly helping though, are they?”

“Maybe they’re offering a warning.” She pauses. This time when she reaches forward, the kitten presses her nose against the tips of Maria’s fingers, allows matted fur to scratch against her skin. “Not taunting but letting you know that you should try a different route.”

“That’s a load of nonsense.”

Kettle? The pot is calling.

“Well things only go wrong when people ignore the black cat, right?”

Rhiannon doesn’t answer.

“Exactly,” she sighs, “you can’t deny it.”

Holding her other hand out, she brushes her hands across the kitten’s body. Wincing at the feel of unhealed scabs and scar tissue along its spine. The poor thing needs a vet, not suspicion.

“And who knows, maybe they’re misfortune to us. But we’re fortune to them?”

There’s a pause.

“I’m taking her.” Maria leans forward, scoops the kitten into her arms. A quiet hiss with no fire to it echoes through the greenhouse. “I don’t really care about luck.”

Rhiannon rolls her eyes. “You think you’re Mum will let you keep her?”

“Not without a name.” She brushes a finger under the kitten’s chin, lips tugging upward as she feels the vibrations of a purr against her arm. Sated, safe. “Mum might refuse a random kitten, but she’s not going to leave Mallory for the street.”


“Yeah.” Maria sighs. “It’s kind of a fitting name considering. Don’t you think?”

October 30, 2019 03:26

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1 comment

Joyce Han
00:14 Nov 07, 2019

This story is very interesting and I like it. It's very catchy and I got excited. Very good.


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