A dark shape darted across the chicken coop in front of me and disappeared. I blinked, rubbed my eyes and surveyed my surroundings. Nothing was amiss, the sun was shining, wind whispered through the lightly waving trees and my lone chicken tilted her head unfazed, looked at me with curiosity and let out an expectant “berrrerk!” I sighed releasing a handful of scratch mix onto the ground in front of her and watching as she pecked the ground furiously, clucking softly in appreciation.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s real and what isn’t. I don’t hallucinate often but when Ezzy is close by, well the world around me can take on a whole new life. To understand what I mean here you will need to understand Ezzy. She see’s things the rest of us can’t.
It’s not so much by way of an object blatantly added to a landscape, we won’t see anything so brash as a hippopotamus picnicking on the lawn. No, it’s more as though she can grasp the magic inside a rich tapestry of tiny worlds that already exist around us. Ones we are simply unable to notice when our mind is too clouded by the expectations of the physical realm.
It can be frightening for the unseasoned among us yet it is a sacred experience for her. She watches what can only be described as the atoms around her, moving, flowing as you might observe dust floating around a room when sunlight streams in through a window. Some of these appear to be attracted to each other, some repelled and they make up everything around us from solid objects to the spaces between.
We’ve often referred to this phenomenon as observing the pixels of the universe, enthralled by them as they twist and twirl, morphing into a scene, a brief movie or image which tells a long lost tale of something ancient, tragic or beautiful.
A smudge on a wall to me, is a smudge on a wall but filtered through Ezzy’s eyes it will become a intricate picture, often times moving about as it shares its story. Ezzy believes that each of these parables comes from a lost soul desperate to be heard. She is an observer, speaking only through her art. Watching, listening, like a therapist to the universe as it quietly shares it’s stream of consciousness, unfurling vast wisdom and beauty.
Ezzy can’t function in the world you and I understand. Unable to see the forest for the trees it’s all too overwhelming and her lingering presence will always eventually send us mad. She comes close though sometimes, our heart rate falls to 40 when she draws and occasionally she shows us things, we can only watch in wonder as the walls catch fire and the carpet swims.
The photo folder on my phone is filled with images of dusty walls and misted glass taken in an attempt to capture times Ezzy has given us glimpses into her matrix.
Now where was I? Ah yes, the chicken coop.
I had dismissed the dark shape as a figment of my imagination and gone about my day thinking little of it, but early the next morning when I fed the hen I saw it again, this time it was crouching in the corner of the shed beside a nesting box. It was too dark in there to see properly, the wild thing was very still, furry and black, I couldn’t see a face.
I felt my heart pounding as I walked closer. The creature looked up, wide yellow eyes stared at me, sizing me up. It was a cat, dark silver with thick black stripes, then it was gone. I didn’t see it run, there one minute gone the next. Over the following few days there was no sign of the mysterious ghost cat and I still wasn’t sure if it was real or I’d imagined it. I’ve ‘seen’ cats before, ones that others couldn’t. They were usually black, always staring and I still have no idea what they symbolised.
Then my daughter came crashing into the house one afternoon, “There’s a feral cat!” she proclaimed excitedly “It is in the chicken coop!” That made me feel better, it was real. She grabbed the box of cat food and I followed her out. We already had pet cats, I wasn’t sure encouraging a feral was such a great idea but I wanted it out of the hen house, my poor chook had been through enough lately, this couldn’t be good for her nerves.
The cat stared at us with its big yellow eyes trying to decide if it should bolt or not. It’s fur was all matted up, it was painfully skinny and there was something terribly wrong with its face. We called out to it gently but it took off at high speed trying to scale the wire of the coop. In its haste it misjudged its distance and fell off, running so frantically from one end to the other you could almost hear its heart beat. It took another huge leap this time clearing the fence and disappearing into the bush.
We saw it sporadically over the next few days, it clearly wanted to be close but was obviously terrified. We left food out closer to the house and eventually saw it eating desperately from the bowl. It was really struggling to chew. I tried to get a closer look and could see that it’s mouth was badly damaged, it appeared to be missing part of its bottom jaw and it looked infected. No wonder the poor thing was so thin.
We started offering soft food instead and over several weeks the cat progressively let us closer and closer until we could pat it. Our big ginger Tom cats who usually ruled their territory with iron claws seemed to recognise the creature was weak and in need and they let it be. Once it seemed apparent the cat wanted to stay we coaxed it into a carrier and took him off to the vet.
The vet gave antibiotics for the infection ravaging the felines mouth and jaw and upon closer examination there was evidence of old awkwardly healed broken rib bones. He suggested it had most likely been hit by a car at some point. We bundled him up, took him home and named him Bandit.
For months he startled at the slightest sound. Content one minute, bolting under the house as though his life was in danger the next. When he finally emerged he would sit on the edge of the deck for literal hours, tail twitching slightly, staring wide eyed out into the abyss as though searching for the enemy, if you touched him he bolted again, if you spoke to him he didn’t hear you, lost in the harshness of the world he’d once known.
Bandit rarely leaves our front porch these days, content to snuggle on whoever is sitting out there at the time he can vibrate the whole chair with his intense purring. He has become the sweetest cat we’ve ever owned, he quickly befriended our giant German Shepard and intimidates our poor little Pomeranian. Occasionally he still gets startled by a noise and bolts under the house, but he no longer stares hyper vigilantly off into space like a shell shocked soldier.
We love our little wild thing.