By Rachel H Grant
It was Christmas morning. An icing of fresh snow decorated the lawn. Olivia switched on the kettle, and sighed. Another Christmas Day on her own. At ninety years of age, what else could she expect? She had survived all her siblings. Empty shadows where a family once breathed.
The kettle boiled, the only noise in the silent house. Until the scratching started. It was coming from her front door.
Olivia looked out the window but could see nothing, only the unforgiving white of the snow, hiding all the sins of the earth. A stark white like her unmoving memories, sitting in her head demanding attention, figures of fantasy that would not let her go.
Curious, Olivia opened the front door. A black and white kitten was shivering on her doorstep, eyes imploring her to let him in. “And who are you?” she murmured, stepping aside as the kitten confidently walked in, immediately curling up by the gas fire.
“So now I have someone to share my turkey with!” laughed Olivia, with a new spring to her step.
She never found the owner, despite advertising in the local press and at the vet. Soon, it was like Whisper had always been there. They became firm friends, the kitten the perfect companion for the old lady. Her happiness soared, and life became easier. For eight years they enjoyed the best things of life together, until Olivia eventually became ill and Whisper was rehomed through a local rescue charity. Olivia drifted in to her final sleep to blissful memories of her cat, the feline that rescued her heart.
It was their first Christmas in the new house, the one bequeathed to the family by their great great aunt who they had never met. They had relocated to the UK from Canada to take up residence, a new life for them all.
Christmas morning dawned bright and clear, only a touch of frost on the lawn. “Daddy! Daddy!” cried Mark. “I can’t find William!”
They hunted for their black and white kitten, but could not find him. “He’s got out of the house,” said Dad unhappily. “I’m sure he will find his way home.”
But he never did. The children missed their kitten terribly, so eventually Dad came home with a new one, a ginger and white feline fantasy, the perfect Christmas card kitten. But there was still a hole in their family where William had once been.
One day Dad found a box of photos in a cupboard, all the memories of his great aunt. The family sat down together, and slowly looked through them, eager to learn about the life of this woman who had left them so much.
“Daddy! Look!” cried Mark. He was holding a photo of a black and white kitten. “It’s William!”
Dad looked at the photo. It did look like William. He turned the photo over.
“The cat that saved my life,” was scrawled on the back.
There were more photos, every one looking more and more like William.
Mark began to cry. “He left us to help our great aunt!”
Dad did not reply. There were no words.
In a house many miles away, a black and white cat stared out the window and dreamt of days gone by. He had known many people, holes in his heart. He jumped down and found his favourite bed. And in his sleep, he was not alone.