By: Robin Gagnon
Naomi smiled, as she pet the black cat with vibrant, green eyes that had snuggled in with her last night. He purred next to her and she carefully listened for her mother. If the upper-class woman knew that her daughter was keeping an animal in the house, she wouldn’t be pleased.
When Naomi first found the black cat, with a white mark on his chest that looked strangely like a key hole, it had been cowering in her backyard. It appeared to be hungry and roughed up like it had just been in a fight.
With her mother being at work, she had quickly taken the poor cat to the vet, who had given her antibiotics and told her that the black cat was indeed a boy. From then on, Naomi had taken care of him and, eventually, he began to look healthy again.
Being an outdoor cat, he was often outside, but during the night, he would show up and be with her.
“Aren’t you romantic?” she laughed at him one night. “Always showing up at my window in the middle of the night to see me. I think I’m going to call you Romeo.”
Just then, Naomi heard footsteps coming down the hallway. Grabbing her comforter, she quickly covered Romeo up and shut her eyes to pretend that she had been asleep the whole time.
Her door opened and a woman in a suit jacket appeared in the doorway. Her dirty blond hair was done in an elaborate up-do and she was fishing through her designer purse for some keys.
“I’m going out to work now,” Naomi’s mother announced. “I’ll see you later.”
“But it’s Saturday,” Naomi complained. “Why are you going to work now?”
“I have a very important meeting,” she replied, lifting her set of keys out of her purse, causing something to fall to the ground. “Breakfast is on the counter.”
With that, she left. Naomi could hear her mother’s car pull out of the driveway and drive up the road. With a sigh, she uncovered Romeo and gave him a scratch behind the ears.
“So much for going to the movies,” she muttered. “At least you can stay here today, Romeo.”
The black cat meowed before hopping down off the bed and walking over to the card that had fallen out of Naomi’s mom’s purse. He managed to pick it up in his mouth after a few try’s and then hopped back up onto the bed.
It was a business card for a store called ‘Oracle’. There was a purple pentagram on the card and an address on the back. Romeo looked up at her expectantly.
“It’s just garbage,” Naomi muttered, getting out of bed. “I’ll get you some real toys today if you want.”
Going down the stairs, she found a plate of eggs, toast and bacon waiting for her with a glass of orange juice. Romeo had followed her and in his mouth was that same business card. She took it from him and put it on the counter before grabbing a box of cereal, which actually contained cat food, and poured Romeo a bowl to eat. They both ate in silence and when Naomi was done, she put her dishes in the dishwasher before heading upstairs to get ready.
After getting dressed in a pair of jeans and a cashmere sweater, she went to brush her teeth and run a brush through her messy blond hair.
“So what do you want to do today?” she asked Romeo, who sat on the bed with the business card in his mouth. “Why do you keep holding this thing? Do you want me to go there or something?”
Romeo meowed and Naomi took a second look at the card, flipping it over to see the address on the back.
“It’s not too far,” she commented, flipping it over in her hands. “It’s just up the road and I don’t have anything to do today. Alright, I’ll check it out.”
Romeo’s tail rose high in the air and twitched in excitement. Naomi laughed, as she shook her head and grabbed her purse. Sometimes she swore that he could understand everything she said.
Walking up the street, Romeo followed her quietly along fences and driveways. A passerby on the road would have no idea that a cat was following her.
When she finally made it to the store, she looked up at it in hesitation. It was an old store, by San Diego standards, and stood out among the newer, more modern shops next to it.
Regardless, Naomi walked in and a bell chimed overhead. Things like stones and incense were all over the store. Some of the stuff was weird, while other items were cute and possibly worth buying.
“Hello there,” a woman’s voice greeted, causing Naomi to look up in surprise. “Can I help you with anything?”
Behind the counter was a black haired woman that looked to be in her twenties. The woman’s crystal blue eyes drilled into her own and Naomi shivered just a bit under the woman’s cold stare
“I was just looking,” Naomi replied with a purple stone in her hands. “My mom had your business card in her purse, so I decided to come here.”
“Oh,” the woman smiled. “Well in that case, I have some cute stuff in the back that I think you’d like. If you give me a moment, I can grab it.”
“Sure,” Naomi nodded. “That would be great.”
The woman left and Naomi noticed a silver jewelry case behind the counter. She was drawn to it somehow, so she snuck behind the counter to get a closer look. When she reached out to touch it, something shocked her and she reeled her hand back in pain. For a moment, she just stared at it in confusion. What had just shocked her exactly?
Naomi reached for the silver case again and this time, when the air around it shocked her, she pushed her hand forward anyway. Finally, she touched the smooth silver metal. Cracking it open, while also checking to make sure the woman wasn’t about to come back, she found a silvery white key inside.
A muffled meow made her turn around to see Romeo sitting outside, in front of the glass door. The white spot on his chest that looked like a key whole seem to glow with the same intensity as the key. Rustling could be heard from behind the door that lead to the back and, out of panic, Naomi grabbed the key and stashed it inside her purse.
When the woman finally came out from the back a few seconds later, Naomi was on the other side of the counter, pretending to look a little bored.
“Here we are,” the woman smiled, showing her some necklaces in the shape of dragonflies and such with interesting coloured jewels in the centre of them. “I think you’ll like these.”
For a while, Naomi looked at all the interesting pieces of jewellery with the woman, while also trying not to look too guilty about the stolen key in her purse. Eventually, she decided on a very pricey dragonfly necklace with a few green jewels down the middle.
“Thank you for shopping at the Oracle,” the woman nodded at her. “Namaste.”
Naomi smiled and nodded back at the lady, as she quickly backed away towards the door. The woman looked at her strangely for a moment and looked over to where the silver jewellery case sat with suspicion.
Quickly exiting the store, Naomi took off up the street in a sprint. She was glad that she was one of the fastest girls in her school because she really wanted to get home as quickly as she could right now. Romeo ran right alongside her, not even bothering to stay out of sight.
When they finally reached Naomi’s house, she shut and locked the door and then sprinted up to her room. Looking out her curtains, she surveyed the street. No one seemed to have followed them.
“Look what you made me do,” she exclaimed, tuning on Romeo. “I just stole something because of you!”
Romeo meowed and tried to stick his head into Naomi’s purse. She picked him up out of the way and sat in between the cat and her purse with her arms crossed.
“Do you even care that I might get in a lot of trouble for this?” she demanded. “I could get arrested!”
Romeo looked up at her with pleading, green eyes. He held up a small paw and touched her arm gently in what seemed to be an apology.
Naomi sighed and took the vibrant white key out of her purse. As soon as she did, Romeo sat up and stared at it with intensity. She looked down at the lock shape on his chest and shook her head.
“This is insane,” she announced. “I’ve totally lost my mind.”
Romeo gave her a pleading look again, so she got up off of the bed, with the key in her hand, and stared down at the black cat that looked eagerly up at her. She looked from the key to Romeo and eventually began to bring it towards him. The black cat sat up straight with chest puffed out and his tail wrapped neatly around his feet.
“Stop,” a voice shrieked, making Naomi turn her head around with the key mere inches from Romeo’s chest. “Give me back that key right now.”
The woman’s blue eyes were practically glowing, as she held out her hand in Naomi’s bedroom doorway. How had she even gotten in the house? Romeo meowed at her urgently and Naomi looked from him to the woman.
“Don’t do it,” she warned in an icy tone. “Get away from that cat right now, or you’ll be sorry.”
Taking a deep breath, Naomi pushed the key toward Romeo’s chest and the woman shrieked in displeasure, as a blinding white light erupted from the black cat.
For a moment, Naomi couldn’t se anything and was left blinking on the floor. She held up her had and watched the key turn from white to a rusted grey in her hand. She looked up onto her bed and her face immediately flushed pink. In the small black cat’s place was a boy around her age laying there, naked. Naomi quickly looked away before she could see anything inappropriate.
“What have you done?” the woman hissed, stepping forward with what appeared to be lightening emitting from her hand. “I’m going to kill you both!”
Fear rippled through Naomi, as her brain tried to process what was going on. The boy on the bed, who had wrapped himself up in one of her bedsheets, jumped in front of her and held out an arm.
“I won’t let you hurt her,” he declared in a deliciously deep voice, before turning to face Naomi as she got up off of the floor. “Don’t worry. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
His eyes were still the same vibrant green and his black hair glistened the same way Romeo’s fur did. His jawline was strong and Naomi felt butterflies flutter through her stomach just looking at him.
“Aw, did you go and fall in love with her?” the lady sneered. “How cute. Maybe I’ll turn you back into a cat and make you watch as I kill your little lovebird here.”
Naomi’s stomach swirled in unease and she felt as though she was going to throw up. How had a seemingly normal day turned into something so crazy?
“You will not lay a hand on my daughter,” another feminine voice threatened from the hallway. “Or it will be the last thing you do.”
The lady moved out of the doorway to reveal Naomi’s mother. Her eyes were glowing with such blue intensity that the hairs on Naomi’s arm rose on end.
Fear appeared on the woman’s face, but she tried to look brave.
“Leave,” Naomi’s mom demanded, before the woman could speak. “Get out of my house right now.”
She exited without a word, which left Naomi, her mom and the boy standing there awkwardly. Naomi didn’t know what to do, but look at the both of them. Suddenly, she realized something embarrassing.
“This isn’t what it looks like,” she blurted out, as her mom glared at the naked boy wrapped in her bedsheets. “You see, he was a cat and then there was this key…”
“I know,” her mom sighed, still not taking her eyes of the young man in front of her. “How long have you been seeing my daughter behind my back?”
He opened his mouth to speak, but looked too embarrassed to answer, as Naomi’s mom crossed her arms.
“Why are you home?” Naomi suddenly asked, trying to break the awkward silence. “I thought you had a meeting?”
“It was cancelled,” she answered bluntly, finally taking a moment to look at her daughter. “Are you alright?”
“Ya,” Naomi nodded and then paused for a moment. “What’s going on exactly? Was that…magic?”
Her mother sighed and let her arms fall to her sides before replying, “I was hoping to wait until your eighteenth birthday before telling you, but I guess that’s not happening. You might want to sit down. There’s going to be a lot to explain…”