Thursday 26 July 2018

Cat Mahal's Wishy-Washy Top

Cat Mahal's Wishy-Washy Top: Object Post 53

Source? It was originally an ordinary top
Significance? After being left on a clothesline for a month it was revived by one of Elizabeth’s herbal washing balls
Fate? Cat wears it often and probably always will
Author’s inspiration? I’ve had a few “pet shirts” in my time, notably one with green treefrogs on it
First appearance? The Peacock’s Pearl

My wishy-washy top is the softest thing ever, like wearing a pure cotton cloud.

Cat Mahal is a practising ethical witch, loosely and unofficially apprenticed to her 5Xgreat grandmother kind-of-dead Elizabeth Frith Larssen. She is also a teenager, which means she’s subject to the whims and practical rulings of her determinedly un-witchy mother, Cordelia. That was how she came to leave her favourite top on the washing line for a month, which nearly did for it.
I indicated my ripped jeans and favourite top. The top used to be a vibrant purple, but it faded to a kind of wishy-washy blackberry stain colour last summer after I rinsed it out and hung it on the line just before we went to Lake Bunji for a month. (It was Mum’s roster at the Bunji Gardens. I wanted to stay at home with Elizabeth and Tish-Tash, but Mum wouldn’t have it. She said Elizabeth was too irresponsible to mind me for a month, but she’d be fine minding Tish-Tash. Personally, I think Tash probably minded Elizabeth…)
I missed Tash heaps and maybe I missed Elizabeth a bit.
When I got back the top was still on the line and it was as stiff as sandpaper. Mum said I ought to bin it, but Elizabeth said it was salvageable if I washed it (gently, mind you, Catharina!) with one of her herbal washing balls.
She was right. My wishy-washy top is the softest thing ever, like wearing a pure cotton cloud. It always smells good, too, and no matter what I do with it, it never rips or get dirty. Now if I could just fix the colour to something more attractive than faded-blackberry-stain…

Cat wears the top on her first venture along the moonstone way.
When it cleared, I realised I was still standing in the usual Elizabeth’s kitchen wearing my familiar over my shoulders like a comforting purr-fur shawl and a crystal amulet cool against the front of my blackberry-stain shirt. I had the glowing ball of light that was Lucy the gypsy’s gazing ball held out in front of me and, as I focused on the ugly peacock again, a ribbon of pale light extruded from the gazing ball and fell across the floor. I saw it extending on and on, pushing out like the sliding top of one of those wooden pencil cases, or a horror-movie frog tongue or pasta coming out of a roller.
What is? I began but I knew what it was really. This was the Moonstone Way.

Her favourite top ought to be comforting, but she soon finds the moonstone way has its own idea about how a young witch ought to be dressed, and it doesn’t include wishy-washy tops.

I grabbed with both hands, because it wasn’t my hair (unless it had grown a lot and gone blue) and the shirt under it wasn’t my soft blackberry-stain Elizabethed shirt (unless it had shrunk a lot, grown tight sleeves and dropped its neckline).
It is a peculiar feeling to find you’ve changed your clothes and your hair without intending to.

Cat Mahal’s wishy-washy top appears in The Peacock’s Pearl. Buy it here. (or contact me at sallybyname(AT)gmail(DOT)com for a PDF or ebook review copy.)


Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)

The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!

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