I remember that day when everything all of a sudden changed. Madame Castel was walking around in the apartment hanging stars in the newly cleaned windows. She was swooping around decorating whilst humming some Christmas carols. Her eyes were shining like the northern lights. Now and then, she put her hand through her curly hair and glanced at her watch. She wanted everything to be perfect for her guests. She had baked both saffron buns and gingerbread cookies, and a wonderful smell was spreading around the apartment. There was nothing indicating that something strange was about to happen.
Madame Castel truly loved Christmas! And so did I, in particular because of all the people who used to come and see us. Madame Castel always made sure that everybody was happy, and she also cared a lot about me. She used to brush me so nicely, only she could do it so well. And Frizzle, our cat, got a pink silk ribbon around his neck. Today was the First of Advent and Emilia and her mum who lived on the floor below us were coming for coffee and cake. Emilia would of course get juice because she had not yet learnt how to drink coffee.
Madame Castel had just finished fluffing the pillows on the sofa when there was a knock on the door. I saw how she trotted along towards the entrance hall. First, she looked herself in the mirror and before opening the door, she straightened her blue dress and put on a smile. I waited in the living room. I heard a strange voice from the entrance hall, and Madame Castel answered in French. I’m not very good at French, but they were talking about something that had been stolen. A golden box. A very valuable one, I understood.
“I know nothing about it,” said Madame Castel. She sounded very upset, and Frizzle came running and hid next to me under the table.
I had never seen him so scared before. Possibly the day when there was no more fish at the grocery store, and he thought he was going to starve to death. I tried to stretch to see who she was talking to, but I was lying under the table, petrified.
Then I heard a whizzing sound and saw a strange light in the entrance hall, like a sparkler in the darkest of nights. Then it became quiet. Dead quiet.
After a long moment had gone by, I had worked up enough courage.
“Madame Castel.” I whispered. No answer. “Madame Castel!”
“Meow, what are you barking about, you old fool,” said Frizzle, sneaking out from under the table. “I’ll go and check.”
Until this day, I admire Frizzle for how he, in such a brave and tiger-like way, ventured into the dark entrance hall again. Even if it was to meet, absolutely no one. Madame Castel was just gone, without a trace!
“Have you checked behind the umbrella stand as well?” I asked.
“Come and see for yourself,” Frizzle meowed, annoyed. “She has been abducted.”
Then there was a knock on the door again. I heard voices and this time it was Emilia and her mum.
“That’s weird. Was it not at three o’clock we were supposed to be here?” said the mum.
“Yes, I think so,” said Emilia.
Then there was another knock on the door. This time a little harder.
“No, she doesn’t seem to be at home. Let’s go back down to ours again.”
“But mum, she said ...” But Emilia’s mum was already on her way down the stairs again.
After a while, somebody lifted the flap of the letter box and two small gingerbread brown eyes peeked in through the opening.
“Hello, Frizzle! Where is Madame Castel?” said Emilia.
Frizzle stretched a little and let a groaning meow slip out, he sounded so miserable! But it helped.
Because after a while we heard how Emilia lifted the doormat outside, Madame Castel’s hiding place for the extra key, and unlocked the door and stepped inside.
Frizzle immediately jumped up into her arms.
“Oh, you’re so pretty,” she said.
Frizzle looked preppier than usual when she gently stroked his coat. Emilia slowly moved forward and looked around in the apartment. She went to the dining table where Madame Castel had set up for Advent coffee. She looked around before picking up a saffron bun and tasted it. From the kitchen, she heard the coffee maker making a rumbling sound as the last drop of water trickled through the filter.
“Where are you, Madame Castel?” Emilia said to herself.
I was lying dead still under the table, barely daring to breathe.
Emilia continued doing her rounds in the apartment. She touched nothing more than the saffron bun she was eating. She finally came back and stopped in front of the table under which I was lying. Suddenly, Frizzle saw a mouse that ran behind the couch. He quickly forced himself out of Emilia’s arms to chase it, but instead his claw got stuck, and he scratched me so that I screamed out loud.
Emilia looked like she had heard a ghost.
“What ... what’s going on? Who’s screaming?”
Emilia bent down and looked under the table. She looked straight at me, but still didn’t understand.
I was in great pain and could not hold on any longer. I just had to move, and
when I did that, I happened to tip over the table and the pot that stood on top of it. The pot fell on the floor, and to avoid getting the broken pieces on me, I moved over a little bit.
“But...you are…alive?” Emilia stuttered, looking at me in surprise. She looked like
she had seen a ghost.
Frizzle mainly looked cranky, as if it was my fault that I had been discovered! But now there was no return. I took courage and stood up to my full length. I looked Emilia straight into her eyes and introduced myself:
“Hello! I’m Orientella, a completely unique and radiantly beautiful flying carpet from the far away country of Mattedonia.