by Rachael Jones
Rachael K. Jones is a science fiction and fantasy author, and the Submissions Editor of Escape Pod. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and more. She has a degree in English and is currently pursuing a second degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She lives in Athens, GA with her husband and perpetual alpha reader, Jason. Learn more at https://rckjones.wordpress.com.
It’s late in the room I share with my brother. Between our beds sits my dad, who is just a dark silhouette with a hand extended toward each of us to squeeze if the story gets too scary. His voice rises and falls in a familiar rhythm, shaping darkness into the distant forests and towering mountains that haunt my dreams. On the floor, at eye-level, I watch his lips as he tells us wonderful tales of the Cat With Blue Fur.
There is nowhere too far for the Cat to go, whether he leaps from rock to rock into the center of the Earth, or rises on dragons’ backs to where wind blows clear and sweet, or skips on light paws through the years to pounce upon dodos and dinosaurs. There is no danger insurmountable, no odds too grim for our nine-lived hero, who makes his home with a family like mine, who keeps secret a window, a portal to the magic world.
After Dad kisses our foreheads and shuts the door, I lie awake and listen for it: a tapping at the window behind my headboard, a blue flicker between the curtains — the Cat stopping by to say goodnight.
My brother never believes me, but he can’t explain the little wet nose prints on the glass in the morning, or the dusty paw prints on the sill that blow away before I can drag Dad through the house to see.
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