Marcus Grant | Managing Editor
Grey clouds moved in, casting shadows over the old abandoned amusement park. A new group of friends made their way through the rusty entrance, dancing between rickety metal gates and overgrown shrubs. At the front stood a carousel. The faded reds and blues and horses with chipped faces beckoned them over, calling them to take various poses on the ride as they captured the moment in a photograph.
From a distance, a cat watched, perched on the top of an old popcorn booth. Bothered by the noise, he moved up to his usual spot onto the creaky coaster at the back of the park. Metal shards and scattered wood usually deterred kids from moving deep into the park. These kids, though, weren’t. Noticing the movement of the black cat, they ventured onward, climbing up the cold metal, careful to avoid the missing piece of track and not to get caught in stray vines that coiled tightly around the metal structure. They made their way over the smooth bends of the coaster and hopped off at the bottom, following the feline to the next ride.
Light rain began to hit the metal roof of the old funhouse, echoing off the hollow walls and mixing with the grate of metal plates as the children made their way deeper into it. Thankful for the cover, they approached the cat who sat tucked into a corner in the hall of mirrors. The tallest boy in the group bent over to pet it, hitting his head on a mirror instead. Slowly, they made their way through the hall, the cat only a few feet in front of them.
Hoping to lose the kids, the black cat walked out the crooked door and through the metal fencing at the back of the building. Beyond it sat a forest. It was a dense thicket with vines reaching down to the dirt and overgrown grass covering the ground. A good hiding place, the cat thought, so it wandered down the familiar paths, hoping to reach the old oak tree it sat in many days before. To his surprise, heads of children made their way through the forest, not swayed by the new terrain or the rain coming down.
Tired of moving, he caved, waiting to see what the group wanted. When he first made the park his home, the kids who came would take turns trying to harass it. Pulling at his tail or shooting rubber bands at him as he slept. “Black cats are bad luck,” they would say while having their fun. It was safer simply to avoid the groups that explored the attraction. But these kids were different. Their eyes were soft as they got closer to the cat and stretched their hands out only to pet him.
They stayed by the tree until the clouds became obsidian, deciding it was time to go home for dinner. Curious, the cat followed, walking a pace or two behind. As night set in, they approached a brick apartment building. Realizing that this was goodbye, the cat turned to make his way back to the amusement park. A warm pair of arms scooped him up, bringing him through the doors and up the staircase. “I’m taking him,” The little girl called out, now at her door. She looked down at the cat. “I’m Suzie. I’ll call you Pax.”
He slept on the soft bed of the girl, smothered in blankets and pillows, a pleasant change from the cold nights of sleeping on rough tree bark or rusted metal. Every once in a while, the other kids took him in for a night, putting their rooms on