Witch’s Familiar

“Honestly, that girl would sleep through the end of the world if I let her.” Cassie barged into Mel’s room. She hopped on the bed and hollered as loudly as she could. “Mel, time to wake up.” Mel yawned and rolled over. Cassie went around to the other side of the bed and pried open one of Mel’s eyes. Mel shoved her away. “Hey! Time to get up, lazybones!”

Mel sat up in bed, smacked her lips, narrowed her eyes, and glared at Cassie. “I was right in the middle of a good dream.” Cassie sat next to Mel on the bed and leaned against her. “Oh, alright. You’re forgiven. I suppose you want breakfast.” Cassie hopped off the bed and impatiently paced the floor while Mel put on her slippers and a bathrobe.

Mel grabbed a cup and filled it with coffee from the automatic coffeemaker. She popped two slices of bread into the toaster. Cassie rubbed up against Mel’s calves while Mel scrambled some eggs. “I know that you are hungry, Cassie, but I can’t work with you under foot. Go wait at the table.” Cassie obediently slinked away and hopped up on the table to wait. Mel soon followed Cassie to the table with two plates of food. Cassie started in on her plate of eggs while Mel grabbed a knife and fork from a drawer.

It didn’t take long for Cassie to finish her plate of scrambled eggs. She licked the plate clean while eyeing the rest of Mel’s breakfast. Mel glared back at Cassie. “No, you can’t have the rest of my eggs. You’ll get fat and useless. Besides, I’m not done eating.”

“You are so slow. Slow to get up in the morning. Slow to eat breakfast. Even your spells take forever.” Cassie jumped down to the floor and disappeared.

“Yeah, well, at least I’m not a nag.” Mel muttered before she took a bite out of her toast.

Cassie slipped out of the house to inspect the grounds as she did every morning while Mel was out for her run. She searched for evidence of mice or voles and happened upon a fat vole. She snatched it up quickly and ran with it to the back yard. They she played with the hapless creature while waiting for her friend to appear.

“Is that for me?” Bob, a raven, flew down to the ground as Cassie tossed the vole up in the air. The raven snatched it out of the air and throwing back his head, swallowed the fat rodent in one gulp. “More?” Bob wasn’t shy about asking for seconds around Cassie. Cassie wandered off toward the front of the house where she had found the vole to look for another, but soon found herself running rapidly toward the back yard and sprinting up the trunk of the old oak where she was soon joined by Bob.

The neighborhood dog, Sparky, was rolling with laughter at being able to catch Cassie unawares. His laughter was short-lived as Cassie sprang down from the tree landing squarely on his exposed belly. Bob flew down to join them. “Not so funny now, eh, Sparky?”

Cassie tapped Sparky on the nose with a paw and let him get up. “That was unfunny, Sparky. Today of all days. I should turn you into a toad.”

Sparky flashed his best puppy eyes at the angry feline. “But you won’t. Because I’m sorry. I forgot.”

Bob looked at Sparky. “You forgot? Have you looked at yourself lately? You are wearing a pirate costume.” Bob flipped down the eyepatch over Sparky’s eye and took a swipe at the sad stuffed parrot attached to his shoulder.

Cassie, Bob, and Sparky played a vigorous game of tag until Mel returned from her run. Cassie sprinted around to the front door and slipped inside with Mel. She settled into her comfy bed by the window while Mel showered after her run. Cassie cracked open an eye to watch Mel leave the house for her day job. As soon as Mel was safely out the door, Cassie allowed herself to get some serious sleeping done.

Cassie was up a few hours later feeling hungry. She made a beeline for her bowl and sniffed at it before reluctantly eating the kibble. After washing it all down with water from the pet fountain, she spent some time cleaning her patchwork calico coat. She followed her bath with a ritual inspection of the house for uninvited visitors. No rodent or bug was safe from her. After completing her rounds, Cassie settled down on Mel’s bed for her afternoon nap.

Cassie was awakened by the noise of the front door opening. She narrowly missed being crushed as Mel collapsed on the bed. “You wouldn’t believe the day I’ve had. I could just fall asleep right now. I’m exhausted.”

“Well, you can’t today of all days. The little monsters will be out soon extorting candy and you have to be there to greet them. You wouldn’t want them thinking that you’re a witch.”

“But I am a witch.” Mel rolled over and propped up her head. “I don’t suppose that you could take my place and I could get some rest between now and you know… the festivities?”

Cassie narrowed her eyes at Mel. “You know the rules.”

“Fine. I’ll pass out the goodies to the little beggars. But it’s your fault if I fall asleep later.” Mel sighed. Cassie watched as Mel changed into her black cat costume. Dinner would be late that night, but Cassie was too excited to eat.

Cassie loved trick or treat night. It was a chance to meet the neighborhood children on their best behavior. She also loved how the little ones made a fuss over the “pretty kitty”. She would even let a few of them pet her. And the special ones were allowed to hug, even if a bit tightly. Mel just saw it as a chore. “Buy candy. Feed the brats,” she often complained.

This Halloween, Mel was really into the “evil kitty” routine of hissing if a child took too many pieces of candy. While Mel was kneeling to let a small child reach into the bowl, Cassie grabbed two pieces of candy from the bowl. She ran out into the front yard and sat down in front of a small boy dressed in an old Star Wars bedsheet. She had spotted him hiding at the edge of the light from the porch. He knelt and let her drop the candy into his hands. Once he had placed the two pieces of chocolate into the pillowcase that he was carrying, he scratched at Cassie’s cheeks.

He was too ashamed of his costume to come up to the door when there were other kids around. Cassie’s act made him feel special. She wanted him to know that he mattered. When he tried to leave, she made it impossible for him to move in any direction but toward the house. “There’s no such thing as a bad costume on Halloween.”

One of the trick or treaters dressed as a Star Wars character spotted him, grabbed a handful of candy from the bowl, and ran out to meet him. “Here,” she said, handing him the candy. As the rest of the group of trick or treaters approached the boy, a young Han Solo declared, “Cool, costume. You came as the whole Star Wars universe.”

At the end of the two hours allotted for trick or treating, Mel and Cassie took the empty bowl and themselves back inside. Mel dumped some kibble into Cassie’s food dish and then dressed for bed. Cassie eyed Mel while she laid out her outfit for later that night and crawled under the covers for a nap. Cassie checked to make sure that Mel had set an alarm before curling up in the bed next to her.

Three hours later, the alarm went off and Cassie went about the task of rousing Mel. It was surprisingly easy compared to the morning. Mel was up and dressed without the usual nudging and cajoling. Cassie followed Mel to the kitchen and sat watching as the prepared Cassie’s favorite food. “Scrambled eggs twice in one day! Have I died?”

Mel dumped the scrambled egg on a plate and set it on the floor for Cassie. Cassie waited for the eggs to cool before snarfing them down. Mel grabbed the toaster waffles she had made for herself and spread a thick coat of butter across them. She sat at the table with a mug of coffee and ate her hot buttered waffles. Cassie licked her plate clean before picking it up off the floor and placing it on the counter. She poured herself a glass of milk and sat at the table while Mel finished eating.

“Is that what you’re wearing?” Mel teased. “You look like a refugee from Merry Old England.”

Cassie smiled. “At least I don’t spend money on pre-ripped clothing.”

“You don’t spend money on clothing. You just magic it when you shape-shift.”

“Well, you can’t wear those rags where we are going.”

“The cabal won’t care. It’s not like I’m breaking the ‘no nudity’ rule for tonight. What’s with that anyway?”

Cassie sighed. Reluctantly, she updated her look to a pantsuit. “Is this better?”

“Much.” Mel closed her eyes and chanted the spell on the invitation and soon both were on top of a hill inside a stone circle. It didn’t take Cassie long to find Bob and Sparky hanging out by the trees. She joined them as they kept a watchful eye on their witch charges. Mel had already found her way to a group of millennials. The central bonfire staved off most of the cold air, but a fierce wind soon blew in causing the flames to rage against the oncoming storm. The reason for the ‘no nudity’ rule became clear as heavy snow began to fall quickly coating everything in a glistening white blanket.

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