I strode across the lawn, a shadow cutting through the dense fog. My black cloak swirled around me, the white lining framing my black clad body in quick flashes.
The cloak gave me a confidence I didn’t completely feel but I learned early about projecting the image I want to present to the world and translated that into my role as a young college-age witch. Besides, I enjoyed the sideways glances and outright stares my choice of dress produced.
As I stepped up to the curb to cross the street the fog parted abruptly. A car swerved and screeched to a stop. The driver stared at me, mouth agape. To her it looked like I’d materialized out of thin air. I grinned devilishly as I motioned her to continue on her way. She shook her head and drove off. I walked across the road and disappeared into the fog on the other side with an extra bounce in a my step.
I stooped outside the door to my dormitory building to pet one of the neighborhood cats that hung around college housing. I was one among many who kept cat treats in my room for the occasional stray feline wandering through the halls. It was against the rules to let them in but some students ignored it and the cats themselves were adept as sneaking in when no one was watching.
I swept up the staircase to the second floor, leaving the cat outside. I tended to dress like a refugee from the Middle Ages with long skirts and poets blouses under my cloak. One of my literature professors commented that seeing me walk across the lawn on a foggy morning brought back fond memories of his days in Oxford with the Anglican priests in their vestments. Around the college campus, though, there were other whispers about me.
My roommate helped perpetuate the rumors. She was fascinated by the idea of my being a Witch but not interested in learning the specifics of Wicca or my faith. She was known for exclaiming, “My roommate’s a witch!” When her audience tried to commiserate with her by responding, “I’m sorry you don’t get along with her,” she replied, “No, a witch, like in Halloween!” When this was reported to me all I could do was shake my head and chuckle. She wasn’t helping me reclaim the word Witch but she wasn’t hurting the overall mythology I was creating for myself, either.
I returned to my room and curled up on a ratty second-hand love seat to do some reading for class. My room was at one end of the a C-shaped hallway and out of the way. When I was home I kept the door open so I didn’t feel quite so cut off from the rest of the world.
From the corner of my eye I caught a flash of movement but it was gone by the time I turned my head. I went back to my book. A few minutes later there was a knock at my door. I looked up to find two girls who lived upstairs standing in my doorway. They had apologetic looks on their faces.
“Have you seen a kitty?” one asked hopefully.
“The black fluffy one.” chimed in the other girl. She shook a bag of cat treats enticingly.
I grinned and shook my head, “No,” I gestured at the otherwise empty room, “It’s just me here.”
“That’s weird. I swear she came down this hall and your door is the only one open.”
I shrugged, “Sorry. I haven’t seen her tonight.”
They thanked me and left. I could hear them softly calling, “here, kitty, kitty, kitty” as they walked back down the hall.
About a half hour later a soft meow made me look up from my book again. I leaned over the arm of the love seat and looked at the floor. The black cat was peeking from around the back of the love seat. Somehow she’d slipped in between the love seat and the wall. I laughed and coaxed her out with some treats. She hung out with me for a few minutes before sauntering out the door and down the hall.
I didn’t think anything more about the incident until a couple of months later. I left my room and turned the corner into the main hall. At the far end was one of the girls from upstairs. In her arms was the fluffy black cat. She looked down at the cat, looked at me and hollered, “Rowan! You’re not a cat!”
I burst into laughter as we met in the middle of the hall so I could talk to her. A small group of people gathered around us. I scratched the cat behind the ears. “Why did you think I was a cat?”
“We’ve seen her coming out of your room when you’re not in there and she’s gone into your room and disappeared.”
One of the boys who lived at the far end of the hall added, “You and the cat are never in the same place at the same time.”
A girl who lived in my section said, “And well, you know, you are a Witch and all.”
I grinned mischievously and winked before turning. The bottom of my cloak swirled dramatically as I threw the following words over my shoulder and walked away, “Well, I’m not that cat, anyway.”