My father and my mother didn’t love me. So I X them. I’ve been in this house ever since. I could see beautiful patterns. Black curves like ivy, or like snakes, decorated the ceiling. As my eyes followed the patterns, I noticed how regulated they were. Buried in a soft bed, I gazed up at the unfamiliar ceiling. It was just like lying in a sunny spot far below. Despite being inside, I could feel the sun. There was the faint aroma of flowers. How comforting. I had only just awoken, yet already felt ready to fall asleep again. But I certainly wouldn’t do that. In the corner of my thoughts, a calm part of me asked: Where is this? Pushed by curiosity, I reluctantly sat up in the bed. My light purple hair fell upon the pure white sheets. Yes, rather than a dirty blanket, beautiful embroidered sheets covered my body. They were so smooth, I found it hard to escape this dreamy state of mind. I looked around the room. It was square, with a single door. I had been sleeping on a big bed in the room’s center. It was a lovable room. The floor covered with flower-patterned tile led me to think such. The walls were neatly lined with closets and tables, as well. Everything seemed just the right size for my height, making me think it had been prepared just for me. The color red drew my eyes to a table, upon which I saw flowers. So that was why I could smell them despite being indoors. “Up and at ‘em?” Suddenly, I heard a familiar voice from behind and turned to face it. I squinted at the rays of light coming through the window. There was a huge window on the milky-white wall, at the sill of which sat the black cat. I faintly recalled the black cat’s figure, and his boyish, overly-familiar voice. Last night. The cold back alley. Me loitering around with a knife. The black cat on the fence. The conversation we had. They came to me, then vanished. Feeling like it had been a dream and this was the continuation, I talked to the cat. “Where is this…?” “Told you, didn’t I? It’s your house.” My house? I did feel like he had said that. Going back through my memory, I found there was nothing whatsoever after nodding to the cat. I supposed I had lost consciousness just after, but how did I get here? I moved to get out of bed, then noticed I was wearing a well-tailored white blouse and a red one-piece. When…? Surely the black cat hadn’t dressed me, had he? This is becoming very strange, I thought. I got off the bed. My bare feet touched the polished floor. Surprisingly, I felt no pain in my legs. Stepping on the flowery tile, I went over toward the window where the cat sat. I touched my hand to the window. With just that action, the window opened itself up. A calming breeze blew in, stroking my long hair. Outside, I could see many large trees, with sunlight streaming through them. Birds chirped and tweeted. I looked skyward. Through dense, lively leaves, I could just barely see a light blue sky. I was deep in the forest. What’s more, this room was quite high up. The wind was unceasing, smooth against my body. The rustling of branches sounded like a welcoming whisper. “Welcome, Ellen. My dear witch.” Absorbed in feeling the wind, I replied a few seconds late. “…Witch?” “That’s right. Thought I told you? I want to make you a witch.” Had he said that? I looked at the cat doubtfully and blinked. Just then, a forelock swung into my eye. Last night, the black cat had gone on about a lot of abnormal things about eating souls and demons, yet I felt like he had never said the word “witch.” “As for what a witch is? Well, you’ll figure it out soon enough,” he yawned, either unwilling to explain or not wanting to bother. I didn’t want to ask much more about it, either. In this clean forest air, I felt like any words or thoughts were positive ones. The black cat looked rather cute then, sitting in sunlight that made his fur look gray, the wind blowing at it. Yet he had looked rather eerie last night, in the darkness, with only his eyes dubiously gleaming. He looked me over as he spoke. “Hmm. Y'know, you got a pretty cute face, Ellen. Just what I like.” I looked at the cat, making my disgust plain to see. What was he saying about this ugly face? I reached for my cheek to check for the swelling. Yet I was surprised to find my fingers touched smooth skin. I continued to feel my cheek, with a sense of malaise I perhaps shouldn’t have felt. Not that I was hoping to be wrong. I quickly looked around the room for something to see myself with. I found a dresser and peered at the mirror. I met eyes with my reflection. She had nothing wrong with her face or legs - she was perfectly healthy. I took a few steps back and looked over my body. I couldn’t see so much as a trace of the ugly, sore skin. The only red on my body came from my big ribbon, my one-piece, and my lips hanging half-open in shock. “Sort of a privilege for witches,” the black cat casually said. I couldn’t take my eyes off the mirror. I touched my cheek which had always been so swollen and sore. I could hear my heart pounding. Is this a dream? It’s fine if it is. I just don’t want to wake up, in that case. Whether he knew how I was feeling or not, the black cat waved his tail, as if to clear the dreamy mist. “Thing is, you can’t leave the house. 'Cause you’re a witch.” His words suddenly dragged me back to reality. The pit of my stomach felt cold, and I timidly asked. “I… can’t go outside?” The cat tilted his head, staring vacantly. “So what if you can’t? It sure ain’t a boring house, I can tell you that. C'mon, follow me.” Once he spoke, I suddenly heard the door unlock. I turned to the open door in surprise, and the black cat was already sitting there. I quickly looked back to the windowsill. Yet though the cat had just been sitting there, he wasn’t anymore. “Now, right this way!” He spoke from the door with his back to me. He turned his head around and whipped his tail invitingly. I blinked a few times, then followed behind the black cat. Outside the room was a long hallway. Sun streamed from the windows, warming up the wooden floor. I walked several steps behind the black cat, whose footsteps made no noise. The hallway had pedestals placed at fixed intervals, decorated with red flowers. They were the same as the ones in the room I’d slept in. The flowers filled wide, pot-like vases. The petals were a color that seems appropriate to call deep crimson, folded upon each other to form the shape of each flower. I felt the water must have been freshly replaced. The petals and stem seemed so lively, covered with dew. I softly touched a petal, and my finger sucked up some of the water. “What’re ya doin’?”, the black cat stopped and said. I hurried after him and found stairs down at the end of the hall. He cheerfully stepped down, and I followed. At the bottom of the stairs was a door. Opening the door, I found a large dining room with a fireplace. Over a huge table was draped a white cloth, and upon it were two gold candle stands. Teapots and teacups were neatly arranged and illuminated by the candlelight. The burning red candle flames sent heat through the room. Perceiving a vivid color, my gaze went to the corner, and yet again I found those red flowers. “Now, take a seat.” After the black cat spoke, the chair nearest the fireplace slid itself out. I sat in the chair as he urged me. Then the seat beside me pulled itself out as well, and the cat leapt on. Once the cat and I were seated, a teapot on the table began shaking. Then it floated into the air, and tilted itself to pour into a teacup. A reddish-brown liquid filled the cup with a pleasing sound. Simultaneously, a sugar cube came out of a clear bottle and fell into the cup as if sucked in. Then a waiting tea spoon stood up and stirred the cup’s contents. Once the spoon settled back in place, the table returned to silence, as if nothing had happened. I stared at the steaming cup in front of me, dumbfounded. I was surprised, but it was nothing to scream about. My heart was oddly calm, likely because of the smell of the drink. “Drink up,” the cat urged. I saw my face in the reflection of the drink. I took the teacup in both hands and slowly sipped it. “Tasty…” Warm. Sweet. It seemed to seep into my entire body. Though to be honest, before I drank it, the nice smell had overwhelmed my lungs - but that was all. I had never been so pleased by a drink before. The black cat seemed satisfied with my reaction and spoke proudly. “No worries about starving here. Nor freezing, 'course.” As if working in unison with the black cat’s remark, the fireplace behind me lit up. My mind was still hazy. As if taking in his words, I rolled the flavor around in my mouth. “What is this called?” I asked for the name of the unfamiliar drink. “It’s black tea.” “Tea…” I looked down at the teacup which warmed my hands. All I had ever had to drink before was impure water and diluted soup. I never even knew such a delicious drink existed. While I was asking questions, I looked over at the flowers in the corner of the room. “What are those flowers called?” “Which ones?” “Those.” I pointed at the red flowers. The cat spun to face them, then turned back. “Oh, they’re roses. You didn’t know that?” “Roses?” Like before, I repeated the word in my mouth. Rose. It had a wonderful sound to it. …There’s so much I don’t know, I thought. Everything before my eyes seemed so colorful. It was a strange feeling. Coming to know something you didn’t know. For some reason, it pleased my heart. I was befuddled by each and every happy thing presented to me. And I also began to accept the way of life in this house. Click. Suddenly, a door opened that was not the one I came in through. I turned to look in surprise and saw someone coming in, pushing a kitchen wagon. When I saw him, I nearly dropped my teacup. He was a big man, easily over six and a half feet tall. Disturbingly, he had no head. His skin was covered with patches, stitches all over his body. He wore pitch black pants over the legs that propped up his frightfully large upper body. “Sheesh, don’t startle her! You can’t just come in like that.” I was able to quell my fear thanks to the black cat talking to the man carefree. The man cringed and hung his shoulders in apology, looking quite pathetic. “This is our cook,” the cat explained, and I looked him over again. The small dirty cloth he wore over his front was an apron, I realized. It didn’t seem appropriate for the muscular giant at all. “Food’s ready?” The cook nodded at the cat’s question and pushed the kitchen wagon over to me. There was a plate on the wagon with a silver cover on top. The cook courteously placed the plate and cover on the table in front of me. He took off the silver cover. And when he did, there came to my eyes and ears - “H-Hold on! What the ****’s this?!” - the black cat in hysterics, and a muddy green soup. It wasn’t just the color of the soup that was odd. The gray cutlery, too, seemed irregularly-shaped, and appeared to be fashioned from stone. All of a sudden, a black figure leapt onto the perfectly orderly table. I stared blankly at the soup as bubbles appeared and popped in it. “Geez! What’re you tryin’ to serve here? I told you to treat her and everything!” The cat complained, and the cook twisted his thick neck. “Huh? That’s weird. I thought you liked this?” I don’t know where the voice came from, but it was low and hard to make out. The cat’s whiskers flicked up. “Ugh. You seriously mistook her for the last one? This guy… Just make it normal. VERY normal. Do it again!” Craning his neck all the while, the cook collected the plate and pushed the kitchen wagon back. The closed door echoed, and the cat spoke through a sigh. “Man, he would come out with somethin’ weird… Sorry, I hope you can forgive me.” Forgive him? I silently shook my head. My stomach was plenty satisfied with the tea, and I didn’t feel particularly hungry. I thought I might have even eaten that strange soup, but I didn’t say anything. The cat continued to mumble complaints. “That guy’s useless, I tell ya. Last one left him behind, after all.” …Last one? I asked, my curiosity piqued. “Did someone live here before me?” “Right.” “And… she was a witch, too?” “Yep,” the cat nodded. Then he seemed to reminisce with eyes looking into the distance. “Nobody’s lived in this house a long time. Really, reeeally long time.” Was that so?