The year 1990 was the year Cat Castle got a new owner and its name. It was the year a family found a home. The house had belonged to a teacher from the village school, he had not lived there for long, but he couldn’t imagine losing it either. When a young couple came to the village and asked to buy his house he was uncertain. However once he found out that the young man was also a teacher, he felt like he could trust the strangers. So he sold his house.
The young couple had dreamed about this house ever since they had first seen it. The house was surrounded by Almond fields and wilderness. It had been built in the year 1952, which was also the year the young teacher was born. He felt especially connected to this house. The small village was hard to reach; they were the first strangers to buy a house there and hoped that it would always stay this way. The house was not right by the sea, but it had a beautiful view of it.
The young couple spend all their time building and rebuilding parts of the house. They build stairs and walls, planted all kinds of plants, and connected parts of the house to each other. The young teacher built a fire place all by himself and built the kitchen his wife dreamed about. They worked until they turned the old house into their home. They also brought one of their cats to their home. This cat would usually travel with them, but one day it just decided to stay in the village. Their dream was to stay in the village to and grow old there, but this dream was still far down the road.
Five years after buying the house the couple was expecting a baby girl. They named her after a character from Shakespeare’s play and found a Turkish name that would fit the German one they had chosen. The Turkish name was the name of a flower, so they planted the flower by the entrance of their house in the year 1995, the same year the child was born.
The girl was born in September and the teacher was currently working in Romania, so she grew up there, but they would always return to their home whenever they found time. They traveled everywhere and moved from Romania to Turkmenistan, to Poland, spend vacations all over Europe, but no matter where they went they would return to their home in the small village every summer. They would sometimes drive for five days just to get there as fast as they could.
As the child grew they decided to add another room to their home. The father made most of the furniture in the daughter’s room. Her bed was in the shape of her favorite cartoon characters and the fish he had carved from wood were painted beautifully on one side, but the other side she had insisted to paint herself. She loved her room and every little thing about it.
Each summer the village grew. The roads became larger and better, so that more tourists started coming. The aliens bought land from the villagers and build houses. The family was hoping for the best, hoping that the village would not turn into a bigger city the way some villages already had. They became friends with the other strangers and found out that those people were also just like them, looking for a silent place to live, a place where nature had not yet been ruined by human kind.
The summer days would always pass by too fast. On most days the family would go to the beach, enjoy the sea and the company of the friends they had made over the years. Sometimes they would just spend the night at the beach, listening to the sound of the waves and watching the stars. Sometimes they would have dinner at the beach. Most nights however were spend at home on their terrace, where they would sit for hours after they had finished dinner, playing board games, talking, watching the cats or simply listening to music and enjoying the view. When they had friends over they would mostly make pizza in their great fire place.
Every year the houses in the village increased, but at the same time some houses were left behind. One summer a painter’s wife passed away. He couldn’t stand living in the house without her. A few years later a father of a family with two young children had died. His wife and children also never returned to the village. All those people had loved the place, they had dreamed about growing old there, just like the teacher’s family did, but none of them could live there without their other half.
The teacher’s family returned every year. Their house was still alive and full of happy memories. The cats were always around to protect their castle and the teacher who was now in his fifties still enjoyed working on his home. Nothing could have ruined their happiness. At least that was what their daughter thought.
The summer of 2004 everything changed. That summer was the summer the proud owner of Cat Castle died of a heart attack. His death was unexpected and hard on his family, but that is not the part of the story I want to talk about. I want to talk about Cat Castle.
Once the teacher died the last cat that had been living in the house disappeared. It might have been because of all the people who had arrived for the funeral, but for whatever reason the cat had left. There had always lived at least one cat in the house, but all of a sudden there was none. It was like more than the father had died.
Another fact is that the family didn’t return to their home for very long periods. Even though the teacher’s wife was still holding on to the house she now had to work for a living and her work didn’t give her much free time. The daughter though was torn. Her mother seemed to be sure that she wanted to return to the house, maybe because the house meant too much to her to be left behind or maybe because her husband had worked so hard on it.
The daughter did love the place, but the moment her father had died the house had just started feeling like a grave. Her father was buried in the village’s graveyard which was just a couple of minutes away from the house itself, but the house seemed to be like his second grave. She understood why all the other families who had lost someone had never returned.
It was painful. Sitting at the table was painful, his chair was empty. Going into the house was painful, because there was no inch he hadn’t worked on or where you wouldn’t find a memory or a picture. The memories they held were happy, but nevertheless they reminded her of the fact that nothing would ever be the same. That her dad would never get to live out his dream of growing old in this home he had worked so hard on, that she would never get to see him again, that he would never hold her again, read to her, play with her, take her on camping trips or ski with her. The house reminded her even of the random fact that she would never have a father daughter dance. There was so much to talk to him about. So many things a girl needed her father for.
Maybe that was why her mother could stand the house better then she could, because her mother had already spent half her life with him. To the daughter the house was now haunted, not by memories, but by the constant reminder of all the things she would never get the chance to do. Her home had turned into a grave. Even the cats had left Cat Castle.