It strolled through the back door one sunny morning, a small, grey wisp of a cat like a cloud, and stayed. Kay had heard it mewing and thought it was her own cat, Muffin, so she opened a pouch of his favourite fish in jelly, forked it into a clean bowl, and placed it on the plastic mat next to the water and dry food. When she opened the door, the little grey streak of mist strutted past her towards the bowl and stuck its head in. It seemed to inhale the meatiness – and then it drifted into the rest of the house, leaving the food intact. Muffin didn’t seem to mind. He gobbled up the cat food and played with the ghost like he did with the shadows on the wall.
She remembered the day when she first moved in, how her neighbour had invited her round for tea. There was a wrinkled, white-haired old woman in a long skirt and shawl, knitting in a chair in a corner of the living room. She tentatively approached the woman, raising her voice a little.
“Hello. I’m Kay. How are you?”
The woman smiled faintly but said nothing.
“Just ignore my resident ghost,” Edith, the neighbour, said. “Not everyone can see her. We got used to her over the years.”
Kay felt a shiver of unease crawl over her body, leaving the hairs standing up on her forearms for a few seconds, and then she smiled back at the ghost in the corner, who nodded at her and went back to her knitting.
Kay wondered if the cat came from next door. She’d been there a month when it first appeared and she quite liked the faint indentations it made in the couch and on the bed, and she slept on the edge of the mattress to leave plenty of room for two cats instead of one when she retired for the night.
For Poets and Storytellers United Writers’ Pantry #53: The Bicentenary of Anne Brontë’s Birth
I originally wrote this as a full-length story for a competition.