The Artist and the Actor

I am Celestia, your narrator for this tale and fellow traveler in this unknowable universe. I am the epitome of midnight's grace, the silhouette that prowls in silence beneath the silvered glow of the moon—cloaked in obsidian velvet, my fur drinks in the essence of the night, each sleek strand a tribute to the darkness that dances in my veins. My eyes, twin orbs of shimmering emerald, gleam with the wisdom of ages untold, reflecting the secrets whispered by the stars. They are windows to a world beyond mortal comprehension, where magic weaves its intricate tapestry and mysteries linger in every shadow. My peridot eyes are enchanting, thank you very much, but more importantly, they see everything. When I was a kitten, this time around, I was found by an attractive, solitary painter, and now and then, I wind up with paint dots on my pristine fur. In the depths of the bustling city, amidst the labyrinthine streets and towering skyscrapers, I live with my human, Rowan. When I look at her, I can see her loneliness, her wishes, and her dreams. She is a unique artist, and it was no coincidence fate brought us together.  

Rowan was known in the downtown artist’s community for her extraordinary paintings that seemed to hold a mysterious allure, captivating anyone who gazed upon them.  People didn't realize Rowan's paintings possessed magical properties, imbued with a touch of enchantment that whispered of wonders beyond the ordinary. The interesting thing is each painting only spoke to one individual. Many people passed by and admired Roman’s talents; many people purchased a painting, but it wasn’t a painting truly meant for them. The extra special paintings and the extra special buyer found each other only once in an extremely rare instance. The fact that a painting and its person found each other at all in a world of millions of paintings and billions of people, not to mention 600 million cats, was a wonder. When that lightning struck, the outcome was electric.

Rowan and I dwelled in the snug embrace of our cozy studio den; her passion poured into the strokes of her art. Each gentle swipe of her brush whispered tales of her aspirations and pains, weaving into the canvas her dreams and longings. She often mused on whether her art touched the souls of those who possessed it. I, on the other paw, knew the power they possessed, and so kept close, sometimes accompanying her to peddle her creations in the bustling city market or along the enigmatic alleys of our bohemian neighborhood. I wanted to find a way to show her what her paintings could do. There were moments when I preferred the solitude of the fire escape, slipping into the shadows with a stealth that belongs to creatures like me. In silence, I tread the paths unseen, a ghostly figure drifting through realms like wisps of shadow. I stand as the guardian of forgotten trails, the sentinel of ancient mysteries, my pawprints gentle whispers upon the threshold of reverie. Cool life, isn't it? But do not misconstrue my aura for malice, for I transcend the superstitions that cling to my ebony form. I am an oracle of instincts, a herald of transformations, and a loyal friend to those who brave the domains where others falter.  Above all, I harbor a deep-seated need to safeguard Rowan, my beloved companion.

One fateful day, a weary actor named Alex stumbled upon Rowan's artwork displayed on the street corner where she often showcased her creations. It was a spot I frequented, observing the ebb and flow of passersby in search of inspiration. Alex was no stranger to me; I noticed him meandering the maze-like streets, lost in the verses of Shakespeare or Beckett, rehearsing soliloquies to himself many times. I overheard his weariness echoed in conversations at the local café, lamenting the toll of endless auditions and disappointments. With each encounter, the gleam in his eyes seemed to dim, his dreams of the stage growing fainter.

Yet, as Alex's gaze fell upon Rowan's paintings, a stirring unfolded within him—a glimmer of hope flickered back to life in his weary soul. I sensed it immediately in the depths of his dark eyes as he stood transfixed, running a hand through his tousled dark brown hair, a silent revelation washing over him. As I observed this moment of quiet epiphany, I couldn't help but wonder if fate intertwined our paths for a reason, if I, Celestia, could indeed be the familiar to not just one but two humans.

Among the array of canvases adorning Rowan's temporary stall, one painting held Alex spellbound. It depicted a stage aglow with golden hues, a solitary figure bathed in the spotlight, veiled by shadows. An undeniable energy pulsed from the artwork, drawing him in with an irresistible pull. So engrossed was he that he nearly disturbed my poised presence on a nearby stool, where I diligently tended to my ebony fur with meticulous care. Casting him a disapproving glance, I conveyed my irritation before granting him a begrudging nod fit for a feline monarch, then resumed my grooming with regal dignity. However, my watchful gaze never wavered from his every move.

Unable to resist the painting's magnetic charm, Alex approached his heart thrumming with anticipation. I heard every beat. With a sense of inexorable fate guiding his actions, he reached out to touch the frame, the air crackling with otherworldly energy. A jolt surged through him, coursing from his fingertip to his heart, causing a shiver to ripple through my own fur in response to the palpable charge in the atmosphere.

Rowan arched an eyebrow in surprise as Alex recoiled but remained silent. I let out a startled meow as his sudden movement threatened to dislodge me from my perch once more. An exchange of concerned glances passed between Rowan and me, silently acknowledging the unexpected disturbance.

“How much for this painting?” Alex's words tumbled out in a stutter as he gestured towards the artwork that captivated him. Upon hearing Rowan's answer, a shadow of worry crossed his face; the price seemingly posed a significant dent in his monthly budget. Nevertheless, an unexplainable urge drove him to possess it, even if it meant tightening his purse strings for the foreseeable future. I couldn't help but anticipate the aroma of instant ramen that would inevitably linger in his vicinity, a scent I had grown accustomed to whenever he was near.

As I watched Alex leave Rowan's stall,  painting snugly wrapped in butcher paper and cradled under his arm, a tingling sensation crept up my sleek black fur. It was as if the air itself whispered of impending marvels. The painting wasn't grand, merely 11x14 in size, but its presence carried an aura of significance.

With the grace of a sylph, I trailed behind Alex as he boarded the subway, bound uptown. His destination was a modest studio apartment nestled in a shabby building within a questionable neighborhood. I peered cautiously from the shadows as he secured his door with three resounding clicks of the deadbolts. The sound reverberated through the dimly lit hallway, echoing my own sense of caution.

Preferring the fire escape's safety to the building's precarious interior, I ascended quietly, my ebony form blending seamlessly with the night. From my vantage point outside his window, I observed Alex meticulously pondering the placement of Rowan's painting amidst the clutter of his modest abode.

With a contented purr, I watched as he hung it, nestled amongst a collage of Broadway show posters and family photographs. With a final toothy feline grin, I bid a silent adieu, my mission accomplished, and slinked back downtown into the comforting embrace of the shadows.

After a brief interlude, Alex scored a minor role as a "swing" in a production off-Broadway. This meant he had to be ready to step into nine different roles in a sprawling musical. Swings like Alex didn't perform every single night; their workload varied based on the size of the ensemble. It was a demanding gig, requiring mastery of multiple scripts, dance routines, stage directions, and costume changes for each role they covered. Despite the challenge, Alex embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly. Any job that padded his wallet and spared him from the drudgery of waiting tables was a win in his book.

I gleaned all this intel while stealthily concealed beside a potted plant near his favorite café table. This breakthrough came days after he brought the painting into his cramped apartment. And as fate would have it, his fortunes took a noticeable turn for the better in the days that followed.

Word on the street was a big-shot Broadway director caught sight of Alex's headshot during a casual lunch visit to a pal at a casting agency. Intrigued, the director made not one, but several appearances at Alex's current gig, even though his part was as minor as a speck of dust in a moonlit alley. Yet, Alex's talent left a lasting impression, and before you could say "meow," he was offered the lead role in an upcoming production.

For Alex, it was like snagging a mouse after a night of stealthy prowling—a dream realized, a pinnacle reached. He'd yearned for this chance to shine on the dazzling stage of Broadway, and now it was within his grasp.

I, of course, couldn't resist slipping into the theater to witness the spectacle firsthand. What do you know? Alex was the real deal, a person of formidable talent. It warmed the cockles of my furry heart to see his luck turn and his dreams take flight.

As rehearsals unfurled, Alex felt a surge of confidence coursing through his veins, breathing life into his every step. I could sense the change in his persona. When opening night arrived, even the most cantankerous critics couldn't help but shower him with praise. Let me tell you, as a discerning feline who knows a thing or two about quality, I made sure to sneak in on that auspicious evening. Alex's performance surpassed even my lofty standards.

That night marked the birth of a true Broadway luminary. Little did Alex know, the mystical essence of Rowan's painting had woven itself into the fabric of his performance, elevating it to celestial heights, leaving audiences spellbound, as it would night after night.

As the final curtain fell, Alex stood bathed in the glow of the spotlight, the roar of applause ringing in his ears like sweet music. Tears of elation shimmered in his eyes as he recognized it wasn't solely his talent that had propelled him to stardom but the enchanting aura of Rowan's painting that had guided his path. In that moment of realization, amidst the warmth of the stage lights, he understood that the painting had been brought to life and brought life into his dreams. I, too, recognized the hand of fate and magic at work, signaling our journey was far from over.

From that moment onward, Alex held the painting close, treasuring it as a beacon of the enchantment it had bestowed upon his life. Wherever he roamed, it followed, gracing the walls of his abodes like a sacred relic. Around it, he arranged playbills from each theatrical triumph, encircled by the gleaming accolades of his success: Tonys, Drama Desk awards, and three Emmys.

With a newfound zeal, Alex pursued his dreams, forever indebted to the mysterious artist whose brush had woven magic into his existence. He often found himself lost in reverie, dreaming of her; for it wasn't only the captivating painting that had ensnared him that fateful day, but the allure of her long auburn locks and amber eyes.

Driven by a longing to reconnect with the origins of his fortune, Alex scoured the city in search of the elusive stall where he first encountered the painting. Yet, his quest yielded no results; the stall vanished like a wisp of smoke. Unbeknownst to him, I, the emerald-eyed black cat, trailed his every step, a silent observer of his pursuit.

Eventually, Alex bid farewell to the city that birthed him and his dreams and set his sights on Hollywood, where new adventures awaited amidst the shimmering lights of the silver screen. After a stretch of time, I found myself adrift from his path. 

One day, my feline instincts tingled, whispering that Alex had returned, so I resumed my routine of lounging around the cafe. After years spent on the distant coast, he returned to my city, haunted once more by thoughts of my sweet, enigmatic artist. Settling into his new digs on the upper West Side, a stark departure from the humble beginnings of his city life many blocks north, he found himself in a state of disarray.

Despite the trappings of success—fame, wealth, and accolades—he couldn't shake the emptiness that gnawed at his soul. His opulent surroundings felt hollow, leaving him adrift in a sea of confusion. Surrounded by material abundance, he remained solitary, untouched by the shallow allure of wealth.

Though women vied for his attention, he saw through their façades, recognizing them as mere opportunists seeking to capitalize on his fortune. Their superficial charms left him cold, craving something deeper than fleeting pleasures. He said all of this, well, I read between the lines in an interview I saw on Rowan’s TV.  "I may not be a saint," he mused, a wry grin playing upon his lips, "but I'll not be swayed by shallow desires." 

Sure enough, one afternoon, he strolled into the cafe for his usual cup of coffee. This time, I made no effort to hide. He spotted me as I approached him. 

"Hey there, beautiful girl," Alex greeted me as I brushed against his leg while he perused the paper. He was sitting at his favorite outdoor table. I responded with a contented purr as he caressed my head and ears. It was bliss, my chest vibrating with delight. He no longer smelled of instant ramen but of a cologne that was rich and spicy.

"Where do you call home, sweetheart?"

Unable to vocalize in human tongue, I rose and hoped he'd take the hint and follow. Initially, he didn't, perhaps unfamiliar with cat cues. So, I turned, huffed, and sat on his foot, adorned in a stylish leather shoe. Surprisingly, he didn't shoo me away. Nonetheless, I moved, flicking my tail in invitation as I sauntered off, stealing glances to ensure he trailed behind.

I led him to the familiar corner where Rowan once peddled her paintings, though absent on this occasion. Alex gazed around, lost in memories.

"I once met a stunning lady here," he murmured to the empty air. I blinked at him, then resumed my perch on his foot. Then I guided him toward the building on the corner. This time, he caught on swiftly. Fortune favored us as Mrs. Woodstone exited as we came to the door, and the slow wheezy door hung open behind her.

"Bringing home a stray, Celestia?" the elderly woman chuckled, addressing me.

"It seems so!" Alex chimed in. "Just making sure she gets home safely."

"She lives on the fifth floor," Mrs. Woodstone informed him.

"Thank you."

Alex and I ascended the stairs, arriving at the door of the cozy apartment I shared with Rowan. Her melodic voice seeped through the closed door. Alex knocked.

The door creaked open, the safety chain still in place. "Hello?" Rowan inquired.

"Um, hi. Is this beauty yours?" Alex gestured towards me, and I darted through his legs, finding refuge in the narrow space between the door and the frame.

Rowan chuckled, "Yes! Celestia, why did you pester this gentleman? You know the way home!"

At that moment, I witnessed recognition flicker in Alex's eyes. "You!"


"Yes! You're the artist from whom I purchased my lucky painting several years back!" 

I smirked inwardly, satisfied with the reunion, knowing what would come next.