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OTHER ITA SITES:
The Magickal Messenger
Here in the Southeast, once again she enters the rainy season, a time when the sky remains bright and cornflower blue, yet November leaves rain from the trees in fiery shades and hues. That evening the temperature dips below freezing, the trees slowly unraveling, the night cloaked in a shawl of silence, too cold for the strumming of crickets and tree frogs.
* * * * * * *
Monday morning, and Savannah Monroe opens the front door to dash out on the porch, grab the newspaper, and duck back into the house before brisk air saturates her robe. Instead she finds a calico kitten rolling with the paper, tackling it as if it were a football, gnawing the rubber band.
“Hi, Sweetie,” Savannah says, slowly kneeling, forgetting the icy breeze. “Who do you belong to?”
The kitten jumps to its feet, meows loudly, and runs to Savannah, flopping across her slippers. As she strokes its matted fur, she estimates the kitten to be six weeks old, part of a feral colony living in the overgrown lot down the street.
“I’ll bet you’re hungry,” she says, feeling the kitten’s ribs poking through its caramel and ivory coat.
Suddenly a low growl escalates behind Savannah as Thoth, her Maine Coon, discovers the reason for the open door and chilly breeze swimming throughout the living room. Before she can stop him, Thoth lurches for the kitten, which scurries like a white mouse beneath Savannah’s robe and into the house.
Hearing the howling, Horus bounds down the stairs and helps Thoth corner the hissing kitten under the kitchen table, while Savannah slams the door and rushes over.
“Move back, boys,” she says to Thoth and Horus, gently pulling the cats aside so she might crawl under the table to rescue the shivering kitten. “Let’s clean you up a bit,” she says to the kitten, as it tries to hide in her arms.
She walks to the sink and turns on the faucet. Warm water streams over the kitten cupped in her hand like a grapefruit. Its trembling begins to subside, while Savannah gently lathers an organic flea shampoo around its eyes and ears, working down to its shoestring tail.
Only six inches in length, the kitten stands on the counter nibbling a piece of kibble while Savannah fluffs its wet fur with a dishtowel. Lifting its tail, she determines the kitten to be male. Turning him around, she finds no sign of fleas, but one eye winks red and crusty. Savannah mixes a lukewarm solution of goldenseal tea and washes both eyes, a trick she learned from her best friend, Ravena Riley, a veteran of feral cat rescue.
“When I get a chance I’ll call Ravena,” she muses. “Maybe she can find a home for you.”
* * * * * * *
She carries 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 kitten follows her to the office, where he immediately dives into the open pocket of an unfinished handbag.
“Oh, no you don’t!” she exclaims, laughing, as she picks up an empty ribbon spool to distract him.
Savannah’s Magickal Handbags specializes in expensive, magickally charmed, handmade purses. She started the company ten years ago by accident, when she couldn’t find an attractive yet functional handbag for her job as the personal assistant to a fashion designer in Atlanta. Frustrated, she created her own, which caused an uproar the first day she brought it to work and generated several orders from coworkers and friends.
Within a year she’d fattened her savings account and gathered a long list of retail and wholesale handbag clients. She quit her job and moved to the mountains of eastern North Carolina, a part of the country she’d always longed to explore. Savannah had finally realized her dream of owning a successful design business in the fashion industry. Sales increased every year, and so did the prices of her handbags.
Then she 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 the quiet man, who made her laugh with his offbeat sense of humor, was actually a depressed and angry person. She left when she grew weary of his chameleon nature, when she understood his irate moods were no fault of hers, no matter how verbally abusive Greer became, no matter how often he accused her.
Now she’s thirty-five, divorced, and living in South Carolina, the place where she met Ravena for the first time. Back then her handbags sold at craft fairs throughout the Southeast instead of upscale boutiques, department stores, and gift shops. Ravena’s booth had been next to hers at a craft show nine years ago in Columbia, one of Savannah’s first craft fairs, and she had marveled at Ravena’s sales savvy, feeling as green as the grass beneath her booth. Instead of ignoring a newbie, Ravena befriended her, offering lots of tips to increase sales, which worked and made the show a profitable one for both women.
Savannah knew without a doubt the Goddess had placed this Wiccan sister in the Craft on her path that day, and they have remained best friends ever since. It’s no wonder Ravena suggested Savannah should move to South Carolina after her divorce, encouraging her young friend the to start over on friendly ground.
Last month Savannah arrived with Horus and Thoth, rented a house in Irmo, only a mile away from Ravena, and began mending her shaken self-esteem, trying to climb out of the gaping hole scratched into her heart by an abusive marriage.
“So the last thing I need is another man in my life,” she whispers, laying aside her work long enough to find the kitten sleeping peacefully in a pile of fabric scraps. A smile lights Savannah’s face, and she quietly laughs. “Even if he is a cutie like you.”
* * * * * * *
But she can’t ignore the feeling that this kitten entered her life for a reason, as if one of the faeries she communes with every day were whispering in her ear. Too distracted to continue stitching a row of antique lace on a new handbag, she walks into the living room to her altar. Horus and Thoth sit by the sliding glass door, twittering at leaves raining from oak and elm trees, their tails waggling, imagining each one might be a sparrow or jay they could chase.
Savannah opens the magickal box containing her Wiccan tarot deck. Bast, the Egyptian Cat Goddess, sits next to it, her serene feline face watching and waiting. She returns to the office and places the deck on the worktable.
But before she can cast a sacred circle for a reading the doorbell rings. Ravena stands on the front porch, the warming breeze fanning her long blonde hair into a flaxen cloak, three tiny braids threaded throughout, each laced with ribbons and rune charms, a basket of cat toys looped over her arm.
“The weather station predicts a high today in the eighties.” Ravena shakes her head. “Must be South Carolina!” She steps through the door, handing the basket to Savannah. “These are for your new kitten,” she says, winking.
Savannah gasps. “How did you know?”
“I’m a Witch, remember?” Ravena replies, and then laughs. “Seriously, I saw it in the tarot cards this morning.”
At that moment the kitten wheels out of Savannah’s office, dancing like a Samhain cat, and darts under the sofa.
“I can see the cards were right as usual,” Ravena says, plopping down in an overstuffed chair, while Savannah deposits the basket on the coffee table and extracts the kitten from beneath the sofa.
“Anyway, I’m glad you’re here, since I can’t possibly keep this kitten,” Savannah says, setting him next to the basket, which he plunges into, wrestling with a catnip mouse. “I was hoping you could find a home for him.”
Ravena ignores Savannah’s comment and lifts the kitten, laying him in her lap, where he begins to purr loudly. “What do Thoth and Horus think of this little fellow?”
Savannah shrugs and stretches out on the sofa. “You know cats. They’re never happy about a newcomer.”
Ravena scratches the kitten’s chin, and he closes his eyes in ecstasy, his snowy throat rumbling. “You should name him Re, after the Egyptian Sun God,” she muses, “for his ivory fur and the Light he brings to this house.”
“The last thing I need is a new man in my life.” Savannah groans. “You know that better than anyone.”
“Yes,” Ravena says, her jade eyes twinkling, “but we all need Messengers of Light from the Goddess and the Fey.”
Savannah moans and waves her hands in surrender. “Okay, I give up,” she concedes. “What did the cards say?”
Ravena lifts the kitten and kisses his rosy nose. “Do not turn away this Messenger of Light,” she says, softly. “He could be a faery of good fortune in disguise.”
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