World Travel
New Original Fiction
Books & Movies

Film Space
Movies in depth
Dreamscapes Two
More Fiction
Lifestyles Archive
Politics & Living
Sam Hawksmoor
New fiction


25 Years Online
••• The International Writers Magazine -
Lifestyles (& Cats)

I Charmed the Mean Cat
• Grace Barnett
Cat Rules: 101

Mean Cat

A witch lingers just around the corner. Or so my friend from high school says. She calls her cat Layla, better described as a witch disguised in feline form, sent to lurk through the shadows casting spells on unsuspecting souls. Layla displays an intensity not far from such superstitious stereotypes. She’s thin and sleek and jet black, with wide domineering yellowish eyes; a potent observer.

The first time I went to my friend’s house, her grandmother, like a prophet of household wisdom, warned me about Layla’s acts of violence, that she’ll bite the hand of those who offer love. She forewarned me that I shouldn’t try my luck and that I’m better off keeping my distance, forgetting this menacing creature. As much as I love animals—especially when they love me, too—staying away from Layla didn't bother me. I’ve grown up in a dog household, but I know enough about cats to know they have strict boundaries, which I had no intentions of crossing. I left Layla to her own devices.

I wouldn't even regard our first encounter as an actual meeting. I caught a mere glimpse of Layla’s yellow eyes and slinky black body as she shot away up the stairs. I got the sense, from our brief encounter, that she harbors a lot of anxiety, not willing to trust new people, reserving herself solely for her family. 

And I’ve seen her cruelty for myself. Even my friend’s oldest acquaintances must keep their distance for safety. The minute they’re too close to Layla, and even if they’re not focused on her, Layla attacks. No friend is exempt from Layla’s judgment. She remains vigilant, a bounty hunter with an eye on her prey, patiently waiting for them to lower their guard. And when they least expect it—and with claws protruding—they have no time to retreat from her shrill howl, an impetuous warning about their fate.     

I’ve known cats like this—mean and aggressive—but it’s never chipped away at my ego, I am unequivocally neutral. I did not, however, expect her to show the side of herself that only her family knows: her gentle sweetness.   

One unsuspecting day, Layla checked me out, tested her fate, shot her shot, experimented, sampled me for the first time. I remember exactly where I was, in my friend’s home, standing with her in the kitchen. With her head perched directly over her body, Layla stared right at me. When not running away, Layla would usually perch herself somewhere across the room, guarding her territory, sizing you up as a threat. Exhibiting a tough, very stubborn exterior, she made sure newcomers know exactly who lived here and who didn’t. But on this day, slowly but surely, she tip-toed her way over to me. Instantly, I locked into her gaze. A few more steps and she was up on the counter and in the direct line of my outstretched hand. Keeping my eyes locked on hers, I waited patiently for her to reach my hand, a divine breath of life between Adam’s and God’s fingers. And with my palm open to her face—towards her slinking steps—she sniffed. I thought, “I’m the chosen one!”

Mean Cat 2

The sniff was enough for me; I was satisfied with this level of curiosity, considering she had crossed her own boundary. Then, like a miracle, she smushed her face against my hand, accompanied by a confident purr. She even went as far as to pace around my hand, repositioning herself so I could scratch parts of her head. All the while, the household prophet aka the grandmother, with a look of astonishment, made sure I knew how special this interaction was—Layla must love something about me to have gotten so close, let alone allow me to touch her. Layla had never dropped her guard with any other friends before, “Wow, so I really just won at life.” After a few blissful seconds of affection, Layla gave a farewell meow and retreated. I, master of kitty charming, had come out victorious. 

Ever since Layla’s first step over her boundary, I have gotten special greetings from her every visit. As I walk in, there she sits, tucked under herself, assessing the guest (me). Once our eyes lock, she’ll blink at me—and seconds later—she’ll approach me so I can scratch her head, then turn around so I can scratch her back, purring through all this affection. I’ve never believed that black cats have evil spirits. All felines are divine companions, sent to provide cleanliness and comfort. Layla and I are two souls intertwined, best friends from a past life who have once again found each other—and who’s to say we weren’t both witches in lives before. I am proud of my little relationship with Layla: knowing I’ve charmed the mean cat makes me feel as if I’ve transcended humanhood and have entered godhood.      

Mean Cat 3

 © Grace Barnett 3.2.24
Grace is a student of Dr. Devet in Advanced Writing at the College of Charleston.  

More life moments

Share |


© Hackwriters 1999-2024 all rights reserved - all comments are the individual writer's own responsibility -
no liability accepted by or affiliates.