The Cat

The Goddess sat in front of her fireplace, her head in her hands, and despaired. Again and again I have tried to send magic into the world, and again and again my efforts have come to naught. The mundane takes my creations’ magic, and they forget what they were, and wear the collar of normalcy without question. My unicorn became a horse. My mermaid became a mortal woman. My cockatrice became a rooster, my phoenix became a parrot, my griffin became a lion and now performs tricks in a circus. Perhaps there is no place for magic in the world. The fire popped and a charred bit of wood flew out and landed at her feet. In the depths of the coal red flecks glowed. Perhaps…one last try.

     The Goddess worked the wood with her fingers. She made whiskers, and paws that hid sharp claws, and a long tail, and muscles that coiled like springs under fur as black as night. Be fierce, and free, and never forget the magic that gave you life, for the world needs a reminder of the wild magic the Goddess said, and breathed on the shaped wood.

     A black cat shook itself free of splinters and looked up at the Goddess. The cat’s eyes held mystery, and could not be read.

     Be quick, and stealthy, and prowl the dark nights. The Goddess lowered her hand to the floor of her house.

     The cat yawned, and set to cleaning itself.

     The Goddess frowned. Leave my hand, and go out into the world.

     The cat paused and glanced at the Goddess. “I will go when I want to go, and I will go where I want to go.” the cat said.

     The Goddess blinked in confusion. Never had a one of her creations spoken back to her. She tipped her hand and dumped the cat out rather rudely.

     The cat landed upright, sat, and went back to cleaning itself.

     The Goddess pointed at the door. I have given you life, and given you your charge. So leave. Now!

     The cat stretched, slowly, and walked, slowly, to the Goddess, where it wrapped its silky body around the Goddess’ legs. “I like it inside. It’s warm. Bring me something to eat.” It sat, and looked up at the Goddess, and purred. Its eyes were very large.

      The Goddess crossed her arms and thought. And then thought some more. Then she said I will not bring you something to eat. If you wish to stay here you will earn your keep. There are mice in the pantry; go kill them.

     At that the cat rose and walked to the door of the Goddess’ cottage. “I don’t want to stay inside anymore. I want to go out. Open the door.”

     The Goddess smiled in triumph and opened the door; the night spilled into the open space. Now, go out into the world, and do not be tamed, and-

     The cat paused on the doorstep, one foot in the magic, one foot in the mundane, and looked up at the Goddess. “No. I don’t take orders. I will be as wild or not as I please. I will go where I want, and do what I want. Humans will accept me, and feed me, and give me toys to play with. I will sit on their laps and purr, and answer or not to whatever name they may call me, as I feel. And though I may live in their houses and let them touch me, I will not be tamed. I will hunt the small things, and the young things, and keep my claws sharp, and answer the moon when she rides the sky at night.”

     The Goddess smiled, at peace, for here was the thing of magic she wanted for the world, and the cat would never forget from where it came. She nodded at the cat.

     The cat nodded back.

     And then the cat went out into the world, whether or not the world was ready for it.

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