11x14 inch, charcoal. With a little reference help from *SenshiStock
My 'quick' contest entry for the 'Mama Scared Stiff' contest. We were to draw a creature from our scariest childhood memory.
This was harder than I thought it would be, as it seems I wasn't afraid of many monsters as a child. There were movies that had me nervous about things grabbing my feet at night, to be sure, but those phases passed quickly for me. I knew they were not real.
Rather, I was afraid of particular situations. I was afraid of rooms filling with water. Of being lost at sea. Of wandering with no way home.
This particular situation began with a scruffy stray Siamese cat named Mr. Tee, whom we adopted. So named by my brother and I when we were eight or so. He was a free-spirited cat who came and went as he pleased. Every adventure we had hunting tree frogs in the yard was supervised by Tee, who was never too far from us with his watchful blue-eyed gaze.
One day Tee died of feline leukemia. It shattered our small world of ballet recitals and baseball practice. We were heart-broken.
Afterwards, I used to see him in the mirrors. Just a glimpse in the reflection of the surface of my mirrored sliding closet door. I used to feel his warm body sleeping by my legs, as he always had. I would see him padding alongside me in the bathroom mirrors. In life, if I didn't let him in the bathroom with me when I went, he would stick his paws beneath the door to remind me he was there.
I grew up and moved on with my life. Years later, I lost another beloved Siamese cat, but this time, I did not feel she lingered. When asked why I didn't feel that way by my brother, I told him it was because I felt Tee never left us back then. Much to my surprise, my brother told me he never felt that Tee left us either. I had never spoken to anyone about Tee in the mirrors, not even him.
In life, my brother would call Tee and Tee would always come. Even after he died, he would call Tee, and he still felt like he came, even if he couldn't see him.
Even still, I could dismiss this as an overactive imagination, a child's way of dealing with grief. Only a small few years after Tee's death, I saw another cat, just a glimpse of a gray tabby padding quickly between the bed and the dresser in the mirror of my aunt's bedroom. I had been staring off into it while she was getting ready for a date.
I asked her if she ever had a tabby and she paused, finding it an odd question. She did, in fact, have a very sweet gray tabby whom I had never met, for he had been killed by the neighbor's dogs before I could ever make his acquaintance.
Seeing my own cat was one thing, but seeing someone else's was entirely another.
I don't see things in mirrors anymore, for those who might be wondering. A good thing, too, because my bathroom walls are covered with mirrors and I should very much like to do my business there without concerning myself with who might be gazing through the other side.
It only crossed my mind as an adult that if Tee was in the mirrors, what else could be? At the time, I did not worry about this overmuch, however. He was always there, always guarding us.
My fears, I realize, are of what I can't see, what I cannot prove is real. It is the creeping shadows and the hidden things that threaten me with the promise of suddenly becoming real, should I become too complacent with the rightness of the world.
As for the cats? It is in their nature to show up where we least expect them and where they please. I have long since learned not to question that.