The Story of ‘The Redhead and Cat’
Here’s the thing: I’m not superstitious.
It all started when I was still in Mexico, visiting a gallery, and I saw a painting across the room. The composition was striking. The bottom third was black and the top two-thirds were filled with a deep blue sky and great white clouds rising from the horizon. There was a bare tree on the right side and on the left was a full moon. I felt pulled into the gallery and across the room to see the picture, and that’s when the figures in the foreground became clear.
Standing beside the tree were a woman and a cat. The woman had brilliant red hair. The cat was small and gray, and I felt something in me stir.
“The Redhead and Cat,” the painting was called.
My best girlfriend, Angel, my biggest support to me when I started writing, had been a redhead, and my cat, Lucy, my muse every step of the way, was a small gray cat. They were both now long dead, but there they were, in front of this blue sky with the rising moon in the background.
I’m not superstitious, but having those two looking over me as I wrote seemed like a good idea. I brought the painting home to the U.S., and I got around to hanging it up just the other day.
That’s when funny things started happening.
I’ve been grumpy. It’s nothing big. It’s nothing important. It’s just the usual stuff that adds up like paper cuts. Working with no apparent progress. Feeling alone. Wondering if I am on the right track. Wondering if there is a track at all. That sort of thing.
It wears at the soul—when hopefulness starts to fray, and instead of facing the day with excitement, I just feel tired.
As I hung the painting, I tipped my head back and lost my balance. My favorite reading glasses slipped off my head and onto the floor just in time for me to catch myself and step on them. Crunch.
I grumbled. They were prescription glasses. Grumble.
The next day, I was still grumpy. I sat down at my computer and, to my surprise, found I had typed:
] am rtrtuyi]ng rto
“What the heck?!” I tried again.
] am rtrtuyi]ng rto
I unplugged my keyboard and plugged it in again. I got the same results. The keyboard was unusable. I grumbled again. I reached for a pen to take notes. My hand felt wet. The pen had exploded, and my hand was covered in ink.
It wasn’t until then I remembered the painting on my wall.
Honestly, I am not superstitious. But I did ask them, after all.
Directly or indirectly, I asked my two loyal companions to help me, to both encourage me and, I guess, show me the error of my ways when I got lost—when I was grumpy, or failed to remember what matters.
What matters is the glorious journey. What matters is this wonderful day. Sure, it’s corny, and it’s been said so many times that sometimes it loses meaning, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
This time, sitting at my desk, this time is sacred. It is short. It is precious. And I am a fool not to rejoice in the little time I have.
So Angel and Lucy are watching over me. They might be doing no more than that. But perhaps, from time to time, they may take a more active hand and provide me with a much-needed reminder of what a great fool I can be.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon is a freelance writer and author and lives in New Mexico. Her columns appear each week.