It all started back in 2004. We were still living in Philadelphia at the time, in a not-so-great inner city neighborhood. Jo had recently moved into my house, and my now-ex was still living there but we were estranged; I had been married to Odin for two years. It was July and I was doing something outside (at this point I don’t remember what) when a redheaded boy with light mocha skin (and when I say redheaded, I mean neon-bright) came up to me from out of nowhere. I had never seen this boy in the neighborhood before that day, and I never saw him again afterwards; this alone was kind of strange, because in the inner city most people can be seen hanging out on the street outside their houses, especially in the summer. But then, we have since come to believe that the boy wasn’t human; he was Loki.
He had two black kittens—about 4-6 months old, one long-haired and one short—cradled under his arms. He approached me and asked if I wanted them.
Now, for me, asking me if I want kittens is a little like asking if I want chocolate; if there isn’t a pressing reason to refuse I’m going to say yes. At that time, there wasn’t a pressing reason; we only had one cat (my Maine Coon, Sassy—now deceased) and I owned the house. There was no one to tell me I couldn’t have them (I didn’t really care what my now-ex thought, and I doubted Jo would be upset) and they looked healthy enough. So (even though I sensed eye-rollage from Odin in the background) I said yes, and the boy handed the kittens over and quickly vanished whence he had appeared.
In retrospect, I can easily suss out all of the things Loki did not actually voice at the time: “This was an experiment; I know I shouldn’t have, but I really couldn’t help myself—you should have seen the cat, he was gorgeous! They might not be completely right; they might even come with expiration dates. But I know no one will love them like you will.”