In my dreams, a black cat pounces and prowls around my flat. At rest it seems little more than a shape of pure darkness, with only it’s bright green eyes giving any hint that it is looking at me. In motion, it is a blurred streak, like a black ribbon looping and speeding from place to place.
I’ve seen it for years, though it took me a while to process in my waking state that it was there. It was always there, whether I was in the half-aware state of falling asleep or waking up, and it soon came to be a comforting part of the process of transitioning to and from the waking world.
It never makes a sound, but then with its piercing eyes it never ceases to draw my eye when it wants attention. It’s silent progress through the dreamscapes that I’ve grown to appreciate so much has been at times both a joy and a terror, depending on its mood.
Whenever I dream, the black cat is there. It may be slinking in the background, glimpsed behind the bit players in my reverie, or it may be running or gliding beside me like a manic ball of black lightning as I swim through surreal landscapes in dolphin dreams.
Or at least, it used to always be in my dreams, but of late I’ve found myself looking around and not seeing it. My constant dream companion, like it’s earthbound cousins, seems to have developed a wanderlust.
I began to search for it, actively wandering further in dreams, willing myself to stay in the lucid dreams longer and longer, straying into further and more foreign realms where I was sure I wasn’t home any more. I’d be spurred on by faint glimpses, just as I was about to give up: the flick of a tail, or a familiar blur of frantic motion would spur me on, sure that I’d found it again.
Sometimes I’d be disappointed, a shadow resolving into something else, or a motion in the grass revealing some strange new wonder – but sometimes I’d look round and see those fierce green eyes, or feel the wind of its passing around my ankles, and know I was on the right track.
I spent weeks, maybe months, trying to work out where my spirit cat has gone too. Every now and then it would come back as if nothing had happened and I would relax before noticing it had gone again.
In the end I found it, but I’m not sure I’m particularly happy about the situation. I found the cat in someone else’s dream, playing and gambolling like a kitten, before it charged into battle with some half-formed phantom of its other owner’s mind.
So, if you find a black cat in your dreams, look after it and cherish it, and it will be the best imaginary friend you’ll never remember. But don’t make the same mistake I did: of thinking that you own it. Just like it’s earth-bound cousins, the spirit cat can have many homes, and rule them all one night at a time.