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The first Halloween in our new home
We lived in a city apartment, and the time of planning, packing, job searching, and organizing the move to a country house was stressful for everyone. Months before moving day, my young daughter had overheard our conversations and sensed the tension. We wanted to ease her anxiety, and because she’d been begging to have a cat, we adopted a silver-haired Main Coon. His name was Sir Lancelot on the adaption papers. It took quite a few days before the cat got used to his new home, but eventually he wandered out of his safe place, that being my daughter’s closet, and discovered every room in the apartment. The shy, timid cat quickly turned into a playful, happy playmate, chasing mice made out of rabbit fur all over the apartment. A few weeks later, when he seemed to be feeling safe with all of us, we took him for his checkup.
Well, the visit didn’t turn out quite as we’d expected. The doctor came out of the exam room with a wide grin on his face and told us, “Your Sir Lancelot is not a neutered male as you were told by the shelter, but in fact, a spayed female. I just spoke to the shelter, and they said that due to a clerical error, their vet never examined this cat, and the owner’s family told them it was a male.”
So, we took a “he” to the vet and went home with a “she”. Sir Lancelot wouldn’t have been a fitting name, so we changed her name to Fancy. At first, she didn’t recognize her new name, so for a while, we called her Sir Lancelot Fancy, and eventually dropped Sir Lancelot.
The moving day to a quiet little town in the mountains arrived. It took some time for us to get used to the new house, and Fancy went through the same routine of hiding in the closet for a few days. But this time, she chose the bottom tier of the bookshelf in the living room as her safe place.
My daughter wanted the cat to sleep in her room, but every time we called her to follow us upstairs, she stopped at the bottom of the stairs, hissed, and refused to budge. When I picked her up to carry her up the steps, she’d wiggle out of my arms as soon as I put my foot on the first step, and was headed toward her safe place to hide.
So, Fancy became a downstairs only cat. We thought that she was afraid of the staircase because she always lived in apartments, and we hoped that eventually, she’d get used to it.
The first Halloween in our new home was exciting for all of us. We decorated the house, and my daughter dressed up as a black cat, getting ready to go Trick or Treating in town with her new friends.
After her friend’s parents picked her up, I noticed that she’d left the lights on in the staircase. I looked up as I clicked the switch. The landing turned half dark, and I saw a dark, shadowy figure that looked like a cat, walking into the bathroom with tail standing straight up. “Good job, Fancy!” I murmured. “Finally, you’ve gathered the courage to venture upstairs.” But then I heard loud hissing and felt a small body leaning on my leg. I jumped in fright and looked down to see Fancy staring up at the staircase landing. Mouth wide open, ears pulled back, and her hair standing up on her back, she kept hissing. I looked up again, but the landing was empty. It wasn’t Fancy for sure, she’s right here! But what did I see? Did I just see a ghost? Picking up the cat I tried to find a reasonable explanation. Fancy stopped hissing as soon as I walked away from the steps. She wiggled in my arms to let her go and she went about her business of sharpening her claws on her scratching pole as if nothing had happened.
My hubby was at work and being in the house alone made the little hairs stand up on the back of my neck as I turned the light back on and started walking upstairs. “Don’t be a scaredy-cat! Maybe one of the windows is open and the neighbor’s cat climbed in.” I scolded myself and hearing my own voice calmed my nerves.
I checked every room and closet upstairs. The windows were all locked, and the cat I thought I saw, was nowhere to be found. Chills ran down my spine as I ran down the steps, leaving every light on upstairs. I thought about calling my husband but decided against it. He’s a down-to-earth person, he’d just say I’m being silly if I told him I’d seen a ghost cat, I thought, so I dialed my friend.
“Yup, sounds like you have a friendly ghost cat,” she told me. “I’m jealous!”
“How do you know it’s friendly?”
“Because, as you said, it was walking with its tail straight up. I’m coming over. I want to see your ghost!” she announced and hung up.
Abandoning her Trick or Treaters she drove over, and we sat on the bottom step for a long time, but the ghost cat never showed up.
Later I’d found out from the previous owner of the house that they had a cat for twenty years, his name was Midnight. She said the cat and their two dogs never got along, so the animals had divided the house between them. The dogs never went upstairs, and Midnight claimed the upstairs as his own territory. When I told the lady that I might have seen her cat’s ghost, tears flooded her eyes. “He was the most gentle, loving cat I’ve ever had. He had a long and happy life with us, and I guess she never wanted to leave the house.”
Years went by, and Fancy never once went upstairs. She’d crossed the rainbow bridge shortly after she turned eighteen. I forgot about my first Halloween in the new house experience, when one night, as usual, I looked up at the landing before I turned the light on. I saw my friendly ghost cat again, and this time it didn’t scare me. Ever since, I’ve been seeing the fleeting shadowy cat from time to time, always walking from the guestroom to the bathroom with tail standing straight up.
Some might think I have a vivid imagination; others might think I had a chance to take a peek into a different realm. What do you think?
© Erika M Szabo
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