Neville turned over in bed, his twelve year old brain spinning like an unoiled wheel. It was the dream again, the one where he painted a picture. He remembered the fun of mixing the paint, and the brush licking the canvas like a cat with cream … then the memory blurred, concealed behind a padlock in his mind.
Neville hated school, the thought of mixing with so many uncaring peers an unwelcome taste in his mouth each morning. Sometimes he skipped school, hanging out in the local park. The snowdrops there soothed his soul, tiny white stars of hope. A song stuttered in his heart, its words forgotten, dying somewhere deep inside.
Today, he noticed for the first time the snowdrops in his own garden, under the lone tree he loved to climb in the summer. White flowers nodded in the wind, sighing for spring. But what was that amongst them? A large white shape … he approached, and then gasped in joy. A pure white kitten lay in the flowers, wide eyed and shivering.
Their eyes met, and Neville read the small animal’s angst, a knife piercing his heart as he scooped her in to his arms.
Snowdrop became his cat. His mother advertised her locally and on social media, but much to Neville’s delight no owner came forward. Like a snowdrop petal on the wind, she had flown in to his life, a flower tonic for his heart.
Neville recalled his dream. He bought a canvas and began to paint. Joy seeded in his heart like a spring flower. Slowly, Snowdrop the kitten among the snowdrops took shape beneath his hands. A smile unfurled on his face like a snowdrop in the sun.
Eventually, Snowdrop’s portrait was complete. His mother enlisted it in a local art exhibition. Neville shivered in anticipation, fear and delight battling in his heart, his hands shaking like snowdrops in a spring breeze.
To Neville’s surprise satisfaction, his painting sold on the first day of the exhibition. Eighty year old Geoffrey placed his new piece of art above his fireplace. He gazed at the slim feline in the picture, and thought of his late wife. She had adored cats. He had not replaced the final feline to pass away. Without his wife, there was no joy in caring for pets.
However, the painting helped him feel close to her again. He smiled, then fell in to a dreamless sleep in front of his fire. He woke at midnight, confused. Where was he? Clumsily, he climbed the stairs to his bed.
In the morning, Geoffrey rose and as was his custom flung open the curtains, gazing at his forlorn uncared for garden. Snowdrops danced in the morning breeze. However there was something among them. Was it … a kitten?
Geoffrey ventured outside in his dressing gown. A small feline meowed, looking at him with deep emerald eyes.
Loved lanced his heart, a feeling he had not encountered for years. He did not even try to find an owner, the kitten was his. Geoffrey’s days bounced with meaning again, like a playful kitten. His eyes danced with delight as the small cat ran up and down his stairs, like a ghost of a happier past, or an angel of a better future. Life became enjoyable once more.
On the other side of town, Neville played with Snowdrop, and smiled. It was time to paint again. So he lifted his brush, as magic melted in the air. The future would be full of feline fun, days falling like dominoes towards a kitten fuelled destiny. For a cat’s love can last forever, staring out of a picture for all time.
Across town, seven year old Debbie had finished reading her book, “Sox the White Kitten.” She sighed, how she would love a little white kitten of her own. Somewhere, her dream was heard as paint licked a canvas like a hungry cat.
Geoffrey stared at the painting on his wall. The secret of art in his eyes, he stroked his kitten and sighed. He would call her Anne, after his wife. His door rattled in the wind, like a ghost trying to gain entrance. Then all was still, as silent as a sleeping kitten.