Growing up with all of Grandma’s cats, I was used to scratching claws, rumbling purrs, and the hives that came with them. When the last cat she’d bequeathed me died, I wheezed out a sigh of relief.
Then I put on a mask and whipped all the ‘kitty covers’ off the couches, making hair fly like confetti. After the drifts settled, I deep cleaned the old house from widow’s walk to porch step until the pong of manufactured lemon overpowered any lingering scent of litter.
Finally, with tears (of joy) I donated heaps of monogrammed bowls, mountains of bladder control cat food, and tangles of tattered toys to the local cat shelter.
Sitting back in a freshly unfurred chair, I practically purred.
I dismissed it when the first book fell off the shelf. And the second. Dancing dust motes shaped like cat hairs? The nature of an old house. Scratch marks in the door paint? I’d just missed a few.
When I woke up puffy-eyed and sneezing for the third morning in a row, I could no longer deny the facts.
It turned out I was still allergic, even to ghosts.
I knew from experience how persistent the ankle rubbers could be. I still woke up to yowls outside my bedroom door if their bowls were empty. When they discovered closed doors couldn’t stop them anymore, the yowls took on a gleeful pitch.
Spray bottles of holy water littered every counter. Old Father Donovan asked if I needed an exorcism after he caught me filling the bottles after midnight Mass. It turned out he was joking. I had to change churches.
Nothing worked, especially the allergy medicine. So, I made plans.
The last cage at the Animal Shelter didn’t have a name on the door, only multiple signs with bold fonts blaring, “Not good with cats!”
I grinned and rubbed the hound’s black head through the wires, making his uncanny golden eyes gleam. “Come on, Exorcist. Time to go home.”