Violet couldn’t stop thinking about the tiny red door. She even dreamt about it that night. She deamt that a squirrel lived inside the tree and invited her in for tea and cake. When Violet went through the red door, inside was like a miniature house. It looked just like her aunt’s house. The squirrel gave her lemon cake and it was delicious. The squirrel talked and talked and told her many stories about nut-hiding and running from dogs. When Violet woke up she thought the dream had actually happened, and was disappointed to realize it was just a dream. She liked that squirrel.
All day at school Violet couldn’t stop thinking about the tiny red door. By the end of the day she decided she couldn’t wait for her evening walk with her dad. She would take a few extra turns on her way home from school and visit it again.
As she walked, with her school bag on her back and a spring in her step, she saw a cat stretched out along a stone wall. “Hi, Kitty,” she called. Violet always said hello to the neighbourhood cats. She didn’t remember seeing this one before. It was a swirl of white and orange and brown and black, and it had a very wise look in its eyes.
Violet stopped. The cat’s voice seemed to be speaking from inside her head. She stared at the cat. “You saw the red door, didn’t you?” The cat asked. Violet’s mouth gaped open.
“It’s all right,” the cat continued, “there’s nothing to be afraid of. All cats talk, it’s just that not everyone can hear them. Just like not everyone can see the fairy doors.”
“F-Fairy doors?” Violet couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“Yes, fairy doors,” said the cat. “They pop up every now and then. All the outdoor cats like me know where they are. And we know who lives beyond them. The red door appeared just the other day.”
“W-Who lives at the red door?” Violet asked.
The cat swished its tail. “A particularly mischievous fairy named Spark. He’d love for you to visit.”
“He wasn’t home last night,” said Violet.
The cat yawned and stretched out his front legs along the wall, spreading his toes. “Even fairies need to run errands, you know.”
Violet couldn’t believe it. She was talking to a cat.
The cat stared at her. “What are you waiting for? Go see Spark! You’ll need to get home soon, won’t you? I’m sure your father is waiting with a plate of cinnamon apple slices.”
Violet’s heart gave a little leap. How did the cat know her after-school snack?
Just then a chipmunk ran across the lawn beside the stone wall. The cat bolted after it, disappearing under a bush. There was a furious rustling in the leaves, and then all was still. The cat was gone.
Violet blinked a few times while she stood on the sidewalk. Then she took a breath, and started walking in the direction of the tree with the little red door.