It was a dark and stormy night. The wind whipped at the oaks – the leaves slashing through the air like shiny daggers as they fell all around. There was no use staying in the car; we would be there all night. My father pointed out that there was a light on upstairs in the house across the street from where the car broke down. Odd, the lights in the rest of the neighbourhood were out. It must have been a candle.
My father told me to stay in the car and lock the doors. I watched him run across the street, slouched to protect himself from the rain and the leaves. It wasn’t until some time had passed and the light in the window went out that I could stand it no longer. I had to get out of the car to see if I could find him.
Immediately upon turning toward the wrought iron gates that opened to the entrance of the gigantic old house I was slapped in the face by a maple leaf. I swiped it off my face noting that it was strange when there were no maples that I could see. The rain was cold. It soaked me to the skin before I could make it to the front door. I was poised to grasp the gargoyle knocker when the door swung open, revealing a large empty foyer.
“Dad?” I called to the interior of the house.
“Right here,” my father said as though it was a Sunday morning and he was sitting in his favourite chair at the kitchen table drinking tea.
I stepped in to the stale dark air of the grand old house and spied my dad sitting on a bench beside a doorway that led to more darkness.
“The lady has gone to find a phone,” he explained, patting the bench beside him.
I pushed the door closed and went to sit. Through the curtains on the door I could see the lightning though the thunder was muffled. My father began to whistle the song that had been playing in the car when it died. I sang the lyrics along with him in my head.
I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates, you’ve got a brand new key…
Then the cat came in. It was a sleek black and brown tabby. It sat in front of us and my father spoke to it.
“Yes, okay,” he said. Just that.
The cat stood and went back into the room beside the bench.
“She said she’s still looking for the phone,” my father informed me.
“Who did?” I asked.
“The lady,” he said, looking at me as if I’d gone mad. “She’s very tall, isn’t she?” he confided then in a stage whisper.
It was a moment before I could come up with something to say. I decided on the obvious.
“That was a cat,” I said.
My dad laughed. “Oh that, yes. She explained to me that we were giants here. That’s why when I talked to her I looked down instead of up. But she’s still very tall for someone of her kind.”
I was terrified.
“I think we’d better go,” I said, grabbing his hand and standing.
“Okay,” he agreed.
When we opened the door, outside the sun was shining.
Question him as I did, my father could never recall that night. We had gone to the house next door to use their phone. Oddly, when we came back out after sharing a cup of tea with the woman who lived there, there was an empty lot where the old house should have been. A sleek black and gray tabby meowed from the vacant lot, under a maple tree.