Here in the southeast, the rainy season re-enters, a time when the sky remains bright and cornflower blue, but November leaves the rain on the trees in fiery hues and hues. That night the temperature drops below freezing, the trees slowly fall apart, the night shrouded in a blanket of silence, too cold for the strumming of crickets and tree frogs.
* * * * * * *
On Monday morning, Savannah Monroe opens the front door to run out onto the porch, grab the newspaper, and scramble back into the house before the fresh air saturates her robe. Instead, find a calico kitten rolling around with the paper, tackling it like a soccer ball, chewing on the rubber band.
“Hi, honey,” Savannah says, kneeling slowly, forgetting about the icy breeze. “Who do you belong to?”
The kitten leaps to his feet, meows loudly, and runs over to Savannah, flopping down on his slippers. As he strokes his matted fur, he estimates the kitten to be six weeks old, part of a wild colony that lives in the overgrown terrain at the end of the street.
“Bet you’re hungry,” he says, feeling the kitten’s ribs peeking out of his caramel and ivory coating.
Suddenly, a low growl intensifies behind Savannah as Thoth, her Maine Coon, discovers the reason for the open door and the cold breeze swimming through the living room. Before she can stop him, Thoth pounces on the kitten, who scurries like a white mouse under Savannah’s robe and into the house.
Hearing the howls, Horus descends the stairs and helps Thoth corner the hissing kitten under the kitchen table, while Savannah closes the door and runs.
“Back off, boys,” she says to Thoth and Horus, gently pulling the cats aside so she can crawl under the table and rescue the trembling kitten. “Let’s clean you up a bit,” he says to the kitten, as he tries to hide in his arms.
Walk to the sink and turn on the tap. The warm water flows over the kitten in her hand like a grapefruit. Her shivering begins to subside, as Savannah gently soaps an organic flea shampoo around her eyes and ears, right down to the tip.
At just six inches long, the kitten is standing on the counter nibbling on a piece of kibble while Savannah bites into her wet fur with a dish towel. By lifting the tail, it determines that the kitten is male. Turning it over, he finds no sign of fleas, but one eye blinks red and crusty. Savannah mixes a warm goldenseal tea solution and washes both eyes, a trick she learned from her best friend, Ravena Riley, a veteran of wild cat rescue.
“When I get the chance, I’ll call Ravenna,” he muses. “Maybe she can find a home for you.”
* * * * * * *
Take the kitten to the bathroom with a bowl of cat milk, not trusting him alone in the house with Horus and Thoth. After Savannah showers and dresses for work, the kitty follows her into the office, where she immediately dives into the open pocket of an unfinished purse.
“Oh no you don’t!” he exclaims, laughing, as he grabs an empty reel of tape to distract him.
Savannah’s Magickal Handbags specializes in expensive handcrafted purses with magic spells. She founded the company ten years ago by accident, when she couldn’t find an attractive but functional bag for her job as a personal assistant to a fashion designer in Atlanta. Frustrated, she created her own, which caused a stir the first day she brought it to work and generated several requests from co-workers and friends.
Within a year, she had fattened her savings account and gathered a long list of handbag wholesale and retail clients. He quit his job and moved to the mountains of eastern North Carolina, a part of the country he had always wanted to explore. Savannah had finally realized her dream of having a successful design business in the fashion industry. Sales increased every year, as did the prices of her bags.
She then met Greer at a trade show, the publicist for a national chain of designer boutiques. Their marriage only lasted three years, long enough for Savannah to realize that the quiet man, who made her laugh with his unconventional sense of humor, was actually a depressed and angry person. She left when she got tired of his chameleon nature, when she realized that his irate mood wasn’t her fault, no matter how verbally abusive Greer became, no matter how often he accused her.
She is now thirty-five years old, divorced, and living in South Carolina, the place where she first met Ravenna. Back then, her bags were being sold at craft fairs throughout the Southeast rather than high-end boutiques, department stores, and gift shops. Ravenna’s booth had stood next to hers at a craft fair nine years ago in Columbia, one of Savannah’s first craft fairs, and she had marveled at Ravenna’s skill in sales, feeling as green as the grass underneath. from your stand. Rather than ignoring a newbie, Ravena befriended her and offered her lots of tips to increase sales, which worked and made the program profitable for both women.
Savannah knew without a doubt that the Goddess had put this Wiccan sister in the Office in her path that day, and they have remained best friends ever since. It’s no wonder Ravenna suggested that Savannah move to South Carolina after her divorce, encouraging her young friend to start over on friendly ground.
Last month, Savannah arrived with Horus and Thoth, rented a house in Irmo, just a mile away from Ravenna, and began to repair her altered self-esteem, trying to get out of the huge hole that had been opened in her heart by a abusive marriage.
“So the last thing I need is another man in my life,” she whispers, putting her work aside long enough to find the kitten sleeping peacefully on a pile of scraps of cloth. A smile lights up Savannah’s face and she laughs softly. “Even if he’s cute like you.”
* * * * * * *
But you can’t ignore the feeling that this kitten came into your life for a reason, as if one of the fairies you communicate with every day whispered in your ear. Too distracted to keep sewing a row of old lace into a new bag, she walks into the living room toward her altar. Horus and Thoth sit by the sliding glass door, gurgling with the leaves that rain down from the oaks and elms, wagging their tails, imagining that each could be a sparrow or jay that they could chase.
Savannah opens the magic box containing her Wiccan tarot deck. Bast, the Egyptian goddess of cats, sits next to him, her serene feline face watching and waiting. Go back to the office and place the platform on the work table.
But before I can cast a sacred circle for a reading, the doorbell rings. Ravenna is standing on the front porch, the warm breeze fanning her long blonde hair in a linen cape, three small braids threaded, each tied with ribbons and rune charms, a basket of cat toys rolled over her arm.
“Weather station predicts a peak today in the 1980s.” Ravenna shakes her head. “It must be from South Carolina!” He walks through the door and hands the basket to Savannah. “These are for your new kitty,” he says, winking.
Savannah gasps. “How did you know?”
“I am a witch, remember?” Ravenna folds up and then laughs. “Seriously, I saw it on the tarot cards this morning.”
At that moment, the kitten storms out of Savannah’s office, dancing like a Samhain cat, and lunges under the couch.
“I can see the cards were fine as always,” says Ravena, flopping into a cushioned chair, as Savannah sets the basket on the coffee table and pulls the kitten out from under the couch.
“I’m glad you’re here anyway, since I can’t keep this kitten,” Savannah says, placing him next to the basket, which he dives into, fighting a catnip mouse. “I was hoping you could find him a home.”
Ravena ignores Savannah’s comment and picks the kitten up onto her lap, where it begins to purr loudly. “What do Thoth and Horus think of this little guy?”
Savannah shrugs and stretches out on the couch. “You know cats. They are never happy with a newcomer.”
Ravena scratches the kitten’s chin and he closes his eyes in ecstasy, his snowy throat rumbling. “You should call him Re, in honor of the Egyptian Sun God,” he muses, “because of his ivory skin and the Light he brings to this house.”
“The last thing I need is a new man in my life.” Savannah groans. “You know it better than anyone.”
“Yes,” Ravena says, her jade eyes twinkling, “but we all need Messengers of Light from the Goddess and the Fey.”
Savannah groans and waves her hands in surrender. “Okay, I give up,” he concedes. “What did the letters say?”
Ravena picks up the kitten and kisses its pink nose. “Do not reject this Messenger of Light,” he says quietly. “It could be a good fortune fairy in disguise.”