At the Heart of the Silver Speckled Well

“Great spirits are live in this world,” thought the cat to herself – “great spirits are to be found within the deeper woods, and amongst the mountain ranges, I know it”.

She curled herself in the corner and positioned her gaze outward to the unfolding twilight sky. She had been feverishly attempting to sleep, with no refuge found and rumination of the mind that held calm at bay. Earlier that day she had stumbled, in girl form, across a scene through a partially cracked window that lit such a brightness her in mind she now turned and obsessed about the possibilities. While walking back from attending to the market chores she had quite impulsively decided to take the opposite of a short-cut, “a meandering trail of misadventure and intrigue” she thought, “as all wondrous cats must indulge themselves in”.

The town was both familiar and unfamiliar, like a relative who exists in close proximity but clearly holds a secret-self. The cat had deeply explored much of her environment but had done so with the abandon of an imaginative adventurer, rather than the discipline of a map builder. And so it was such that upon this day the cat turned and boldly walked down a familiarly unknown alleyway whose mouth was an imprinted memory but whose throat and belly held hitherto unknowns. The alley was much like any other, somewhat overshadowed by the buildings, with parcels of light where a roof ended and the sky opened up again. The alley, fairly uncluttered and an oddly pleasant terrain had led the girl toward an unexpected happening. A hidden courtyard.

“Why bless my soul” cried the cat. A scene revealing itself before her – a hexagonal opening, built by the backsides of grand buildings, with a singular silver willow placed purposefully in the centered mouth of a cobblestone yard. Curiously there was only one way in and out, the way she had come, and with no sign or indication as to the purpose of this structural relief. The cat,  being a purposeful and pragmatic creature, so named it The Silver Speckled Well – after that nature of sunlight cascading o’er the singular bright and slight adolescent willow, within the impressive height of the backside building walls.

“Good afternoon dear wondrous willow” said the girl, and gave a right-side favoring nod and bow toward the tree. “My name is Nihil,” she offered “and I am a brave adventurer, most grateful to have discovered your Silver Speckled Well”.
The willow stood still. “Ahem,” coughed the cat, softly this time offering a motion between a slight curtesy and a backward stepping bow.
“I Bastet, the wandering cat, humbly offer a gift to you, in gratitude of your welcoming me into your courtyard” she said, and poured the remainder of water from her pouch onto the base of the tree.

The tree stood motionless. The girl stood straight, looking up and down at the tree, her head slightly cocked toward her left. She scrunched up her face in puzzlement. A slight breeze spiraled its way down the chimney-like-opening of the courtyard and entangled itself with the finer leaves and branches on the extremities of the tree, causing them to rustle.

“Hoi !!!” Cried the girl, and clicked her heels. “So it is decided, and we shall be the best of friends you and I”. The tree settled down and The girl-cat, triumphant in her adventuring, gave a content and happy sigh.

Sunlight chased itself on the cobblestones, filtered by the myriad of leaves moving in the breeze, the girl watched mesmerized as forms shifted, colors muted and revealed themselves again, and she felt a great wonder arise from the scene before her. A song presumed itself to appear as she watched the interplay of elemental forces, a requiem of love, loss, and redemption. As light is consumed by shadow the object yearns to be revealed again, revived and defined by the motion of light across its form, caressed and encouraged to express its whole being, lest the companions of darkness summon moss and dust to obscure.

The girl flickered for a moment, becoming her cat self as she lapsed into the soliloquy’s beating heart. For as long as she could remember the girl had also shared the form of a cat, black as the star-speckled sky and matching her chronological human age. The girl had not yet met another soul who suffered the same malady and had spent her early years learning how to suppress the transformation. She had been lucky enough to be born into a family who had not destroyed her, or sold her to a traveling fair, nor forgotten her altogether- though they had struggled to understand the nature of her condition, and had utterly failed to see any benefit, leading them to present her to physicians and apothecarists with the intention of having it removed altogether. Faced with the frustration and bafflement of the medical community (such as it was in the mountains where she was born) the cat became dormant, intentionally suppressed by the girl as a consequence of shame.

Of all the fevers that might befall a human, the writhing furnace of shame is amongst the most insipid, it is taken to instigating the unraveling of a person, in opposition to the crushing action of its sister affliction, loneliness. Shame causes a person to become almost spectral, translucent, and the compensatory reaction is to suppress and bury the causation. To lapse into denial. The cat had not given in to a process of fooling herself, more the girl had come to realize a period of slumber would be in the best interest of all, and had sequestered her cat-self away so as to more convincingly present as a simple girl. An unforeseen consequence of this decision was that the girl became prone to bouts of extended sleep and depression, a residual affect of her cat-self being so buried, she took on the characteristics of an interned cat. In reaction to this depression, the girl became interested in adventure; diving into histories and dreaming of thrills that awaited her, once she was old enough to leave the mountains and venture into the lower towns and cities. “I will travel, and search, and never settle” she said to herself, “and I will find grand places where being a cat is of no matter, and being a girl is of no consequence, and being both is something delightful”.

The girl had wandered for a long, long time after reaching an appropriate age to leave her home, and though she had begun to wake up her alternative form, she had not yet found an accepting place amongst the towns and cities that celebrated such a wondrous chimera. So she remained hidden, for all intents and purposes.

Sitting on the cobblestones the girl took a deeper look around the courtyard. “Oh” she exclaimed to herself, “How odd that I had not noticed this rather handsome looking window” she thought, looking through the other side of the tree. While all 5 walls of the well were towers of brick the 6th wall (from the counterclockwise direction she had counted) revealed itself to have a low window, a 1/4 cracked and constructed with the bowed ends of blown bottles, fused into a pane. The girl took herself over to the window, brushing a kind hand against the tree as she passed it. As she approached the window she stopped and crouched, “Voices” she thought to herself, and felt a slight fever of shame run over her, “Have I trespassed on a private space?” She wondered. Her nose twitched, indicating that her curiosity was getting the better of her. She gently peered into the crack of the window.

The cat had never seen such devices before, as she scanned the room she made out recognizable shapes that gave the indication of a telescope, or a measuring cylinder, or a collection of handheld tools of unknown purpose. The walls were adorned with drawings and symbols that made her head swim. They seemed to speak a secret language, to communicate something of unknown but inherently great value to her. The cat moved in closer to the vented window, catching sight of a further room with shelves of books from ceiling to floor, and more still stacked in corners. Big, bold, old and complicated looking things, with scrolls and sheets intermingled with the hardbacks, like layers of filling between bread.
Suddenly the cat heard the voices again, located in a different room, out of sight – “See here, dear sister, this sigil holds the same markings as this tablet, an impossible coincidence as they are 1000 years apart and different continents to boot, this is a purposeful matter of meaning!”.
“Agreed, sister” exclaimed the other voice, and here too in reference to the great tree spirit Yumminna Sur, the very same markings”.
“Closer then,” whispered one.
“An un-wasted dream we have dreamt that brought us here” said the other.

A note here on dreaming, a most common occurrence and often source of amusement for the nonsense of its content – all beings dream, and most dream without purpose, with dreams themselves being subjects of the fancy and folly emanating from the untethered unconscious mind. For most beings, a dream is a juxtaposition of recent memory and subliminal fantasy. Nothing more. Yet for those who dream with intention, this space is a canvas of exploration and conjuring, a trading-port wherein one may ferry themselves to far-away lands, or obtain previously unknown treasures. For those who understand the intention of dreaming there is a portal to be found, granting access to other entities who also visit the Summerlands. In these dreams, one is able to engage in forms of research and communication that are simply not possible in waking life, as the nature of time constraints one to a linear path, and grander dimensions are inaccessible.

The cat moved her head closer into the gap of the window, this time catching sight of hanging bundles of unknown plants, left drying in the air, their combined scents forming a powdery and pulsing sensation. “We should take these findings and visit with the woods witch,” said one voice, “she will be glad to hear that we have proved ourselves correct”.
“She will be positively giddy,” said the other, “you know she has been seeking counsel from the deep mountain sprites, and this should give her reason to decipher their chattering”.

The cat heard the owners of the voices shuffle, seemingly gathering up items, before hearing a door open, close and lock. The cat sat back on the cobblestones and sighed a curious sigh, her eyes darting around without focus, as is often the case with deep thinking thoughts – “A witch and spirits in the mountain, and mysterious sciences with well-hidden secrets” she whispered to herself.
The girl jumped up and let out a triumphant laugh “Oh wonderful tree, what a beauty of an adventure, you surely are a benevolent guardian!!” She said, throwing her arms around the willow.
“OWWWWWW” she cried out, reeling from the tree-trunk, “you bit me!!!!”. She turned to the tree, rubbing her cheek. The cat laughed again, this time catching sight of a line of ants, straight as an arrow, marching up the glossy bark. “Your soldiers are correct” said the cat, and bowed toward the tree “It was presumptuous of me, oh great and wonderful guardian”.
The cat bowed once more and made a parting gesture with her hand before clicking her heels once more and leaving the Silver Speckled Well.

The tree stood silently, no breeze to move its branches. The ants corrected their pathway to compensate for the disruption the girls face had caused.

The courtyard sat fixed in a pattern of shadow and light, while the faint cry of “Yippee” echoed amongst the walls, as the cat made her way back toward the mouth of the alley.