An old moon hinted at the winter dawn, its soft white luminescence sufficient for the cat to see by. Well, cats can see in the dark anyway, can’t they? I glimpsed him from the kitchen window as I stood there peering idly out, sipping my camomile tea with hopes of sleep.
A blue-black landscape, edged with white. And the black cat.
I thought back to the sight of my neighbour earlier in the day. I had just pulled in to the weedy drive with my overladen truck, all my worldly goods transported to this, my new home in the woods. She was in her snow-blanketed garden, standing over a silver dish which glinted in the late sunlight. She ignored my arrival as she lit something in the dish. It blazed briefly with a blue flame, died. She nodded.
I slid from the car, stretching after the long drive.
‘Good afternoon,’ I called.
She turned as if noticing me for the first time. Young, pretty, wearing tall, old-fashioned boots, and a heavy cape over her shoulders decorated with silver, rune-like patterns. An artist, it seemed.
‘Good afternoon.’ Her voice sounded older than she looked. Perhaps a cold. The glance she gave me was cool, eyes narrowed. Perhaps against the glare of the snow.
I expected her to approach, to introduce herself. She smiled, folded her cape closely about her and moved indoors.
Good start to the neighbourly relationship. I shrugged and began to unload.
Despite the arduous day, I had been unable to sleep. The old house creaked around me as if a high wind blew, and sussurrations seeped through the wooden boards, wordless whispers. Finally, I had given up and come into the kitchen to make tea.
Which is when I spotted the cat under the cold, old moon. A black cat.
And dancing beside the cat, engaging it in fluttering conversation, were fairies. It was then that I understood.
Not an artist then.
Find Cheryl’s flash fiction and short stories, including audio versions of some, here!