The phone rang and with each ring my heart tightened up a notch further. If I couldn’t get through, I was pretty sure I was going to go crazy. Or crazier, since nothing about today seemed like it was “sane”. If September was right and I couldn’t hide things anymore though, then I what I needed more than anything was someone who’d help me out, and there was precisely one person who might be willing to do that.
My breath caught when the phone picked up and imagined in an instant all the possibilities for how this could go wrong. What if someone else answered the phone? What if there was company over? What if green skinned, bug-eyed, space aliens had replaced everyone I knew with cardboard duplicates? Yeah, some of those were unlikely but with all that had gone on so far, I didn’t feel like I was that clear on the rules for how the world worked anymore.
“Hi Penny! What’s up!” asked the one person in the world I knew would have my back no matter what.
“Hi Rosie, I’m a witch and I have a magic talking cat now and I lose my shadow!” I said. The words exploded out of me like a dam burst.
“Uh, ok, what’s all this now?” she asked.
“Don’t hang up!” I said, again blurting out my worst fear.
“Penny, are you ok?” she asked.
“Kind of, maybe, no?” I said. “It’s complicated.”
“Are you safe? Do you need me to call someone?” Rosie asked.
“I’m fine, and you’re the someone I needed to call,” I said.
“That’s good, cause you sound a little out there,” she said.
“I know. Today has been really, really nuts, and I need to tell someone about it,” I said.
“Do you want to switch to video?” Rosie asked.
“Yeah! That’s a great idea. There’s someone I want you to meet!” I said.
I looked around for September and found him cowering under the bed.
“Ok, give me a second and I’ll get my cam setup,” Rosie said. “Call you right back, ok?”
“Sure!” I said, and then felt a stomach churning thud when she hung up.
“Do I have to meet someone?” September asked.
“It’s just Rosie, she’s really nice and she’s my friend, and it’ll just be over video,” I said.
“What does that mean?” he asked.
“She’s going to call me back and we’ll see her on the screen here,” I said pointing at my computer. “And she’ll see us on hers.”
“Does she have to see me?” September asked.
“I think it’ll help convince her I’m telling the truth,” I said. “And I think she’ll really like you.”
The computer started ringing with her call and I picked it up.
“Hi again!” I said as Rosie’s face popped into focus on the monitor.
“Ok, you look like you’re in one piece,” she said. “So what was all that stuff before?”
“I’ve had the weirdest day,” I said, cutting myself off before I could spew out the particulars in context-less details.
“Explain,” she said. Her expression was an odd one. I couldn’t tell if she believed me already or if she’d decided I’d lost my marbles or something inbetween. If I had been someone else, I could see her suspecting that I was setting up a trick or a prank, but Rosie and I knew each other from kindergarten and she knew that I never played pranks on anyone.
Battling my urge to blurt things out, I managed to fill her in on what happened after I left school. I didn’t hold anything back, in part because I didn’t want to and in part because I wasn’t sure I could. I told her about finding September, about Grandma Apples, about the broom ride home and about talking with my shadow. Through it all she listened. A few times when the urge to spill everything got too strong and I rushed through a bit of the story, she asked questions so I could back up but otherwise she just watched me.
“And so now I can’t seem to stop talking,” I said. “Especially not about things I don’t want people to know.”
“You’re really serious about this?” she asked me after a moment of contemplation.
“Completely,” I said.
“I want to see him then,” she said. “September.”
“He’s kind of shy, but I’ll see if he’ll come on camera,” I said, and felt a furry form poke up from under my arm.
“Oh, she’s really pretty,” September said.
Rosie spasmed like a lightning bolt hit her.
“Is that real?” she asked, her eyes wide as the moon.
“Yep,” I said. “See, talking cat.”
“It’s nice to meet you Miss Rosie,” September said and gave a low cat bow.
The smile on Rosie’s face grew deeper and broader and from behind it I heard little squeals of barely contained delight.
“He’s adorable!” she said. “But how does he talk?”
“I’ve always been able to speak,” he said. “It’s one of my gifts.”
“Your fur looks so beautiful,” she said.
Without making any ado about it, September stepped through monitor and into the video with Rosie. One moment he was on my side of the glass and the next he was with her.
For a long moment neither of us said anything. We were both too stunned. September curled under Rosie’s hand and accepted a scritch behind the ears that Rosie seemed to do without any conscious awareness.
Before either of us managed to collect our wits, he stepped back through the window onto my side and said, “you’re right, she’s very nice!”
“Did that just happen?” Rosie asked, blinking as she tried to process what she’d seen.
“I’m sorry, wasn’t it ok to go over there?” September asked. “I thought that’s why you opened the door?”
I looked at my hand on the mouse. It was paler with the loss of my shadow. Was it really my hand anymore? Had I opened a magic door for September to walk through? Or was that something he could do naturally? I couldn’t tell and I wasn’t a hundred percent certain that I wanted to know. Being magical seemed kind of scary.
“I want to be a witch too,” Rosie said, her familiar courage alight in her eyes. “Where can I find a cat like September?”