Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The White Cat

Photo from Wiki Commons

In 2007, I adopted a cat named Zelda from a Petsmart adoption program.  I had actually fallen in love with her immediately after seeing her for the first time, but almost lost the chance to get her as another person adopted her first.  When that adopter returned her within a few days, I took it as a sign and took her home right away.

Supposedly, her first adopter brought her back to the store because he realized he was allergic to cats, but I could never help feeling that maybe there was more to it than that.  My speculation about that let to another pearl of a story:  A person who is seduced by a cat who later goes on to ruin his life.

I mulled the story over for a while, but it wasn't until I read the folk tale "The White Cat" that it all started to come together.  That folktale is an earlier version of "Puss in Boots," with many of the same plot points -- including an unlucky youngest son who rises to greatness with the help of a cat.  In this version, though, the cat itself is an enchanted princess -- and the character begins to fall in love with her before her human form is revealed.

My version of "The White Cat" is not a straight re-telling by any means.  I borrowed a few bits and pieces of the folktale, including its title, but the final product has just a hint of E.A. Poe's "The Black Cat" and a generous dash of Egyptian mythology.  

Here's a snippet:

When Joe was at work, Liz would set the cat on the welcome mat outside and slam the door in her face, being sure to lock her out. Somehow, it made little difference. When she awoke, Liz would find the cat back in her room, standing at the edge of her bed and peering at her with cool, haughty eyes. Other times, she awoke to find “gifts” laid upon her pillow: dead sparrows, headless lizards, mice whose guts spilled out of them in a bloody tangle.
[...]
That night, she put the cat in the garage.
When she awoke, it was seated primly on the edge of the bed, quietly disemboweling a particularly fat gray rat. Its eyes caught the light as it looked up, fixing Liz with a stare that seemed both threatening and accusatory. A stare that said, Watch yourself, human. You have guts, too.


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