Mona wouldn't stop screaming. Tom really couldn't blame her- after all, she'd awakened to find a naked man in her room. 'It's all right, I won't hurt you!" he cried, but she really wasn't listening. Still insisting that he wasn't a bad man, Tom grabbed the first article of clothing he found- a sweatshirt with the name of the college and its logo on the front. He put it on and was pleased to find that it was large and loose fitting enough to cover certain parts of his anatomy.

She was still screaming. 'I'm not a stranger!" he said, trying to talk over the screaming without shouting at her. "I'm Tom. You remember Tom, the cat?" He wasn't getting through to her, and a new possibility occurred to him. Dorm rooms weren't exactly soundproof, and Mona had been screaming for quite a while. Tom didn't want to stick around and see what happened when some big football player came to find out what all the commotion was about.

He turned and slipped out of the room. At least now, he knew where she was staying and could come back to explain things later- once he was fully dressed and she'd calmed down a bit. There were a few people already stepping out of their own rooms to glance up and down the hall. They didn't seem to have figured out what the screaming was about, and Tom tried to look just as confused as they did while he casually walked down the hall.

Luckily, nobody seemed all that suspicious of him yet, and he could hear Mona's screams begin to die down as she became less hysterical. Or maybe, that wasn't luck. Maybe somebody was influencing what Tom was doing- and maybe that person had caused Mona to react so badly. The witch was to blame for this.

Suddenly, it all made perfect sense. The witch had stopped by Tom's family's house the other day to mock him for not figuring out how to become human. The problem was, Tom had figured it out, and now, the witch had to be angry that he was no longer a cat. She must have put a spell on Mona to make her afraid of Tom, and now she would attempt to ruin his chances with his true love. Well, Tom wouldn't stand for that!

Self- consciously, he adjusted his sweatshirt as he stepped outside. It was very cold out there, and he shivered, wishing there had been some pants in Mona's room that he could have stolen. He walked forward, thinking that the trip had been much more pleasant when he'd been a cat resting in Mona's arms. Well, at least now he knew who to find and blame for what had happened to him.

Of course, the obvious problem was the question of where to find the witch. He knew almost nothing about her, and he suspected that even if he could find her home- if she lived in a home, she could still make herself very difficult to find. Tom didn't want to admit to himself that if the witch wanted to be found, she'd come to him, and if she didn't want to be found, he had a long night ahead of him.

"Why did you do it?" he asked aloud while aimlessly wandering the streets. He suspected that although he was no longer a cat, the witch was still keeping an eye on him and could hear what he said. "You wanted to teach me the value of love- I learned it. Mona was my true love- when I kissed her, I turned back into a human, and now that I actually have a chance to let her get to know me, she's hysterical. If she remembers my face, she'll probably never let me get near to her, and if she doesn't, she's going to want to know how I know who she is. Why did you make her react the way she did?"

"I didn't make anybody do anything." The all-too familiar voice came from a dark alley just to Tom's right. He turned and walked toward it while the witch explained. "Mona reacted the way anyone would- she screamed when she found a naked man in the room. I didn't have anything to do with that. As for all your talk about true love, I fear that I'm going to need to explain a few things to you. You're not in love. You've only known Mona a few weeks, and she still thinks you're a pussy cat."

"It is love!" Tom cried, charging forward. The alley was dark, and he was too angry to stop and consider where he was. He'd hoped that by some stroke of luck, he could tackle the witch, but instead, he crashed into a trashcan, and both he and it toppled to the ground with a bang.

High above, someone opened their window and shouted. "Keep it down out there!" For some reason, those words sounded strangely familiar, but Tom couldn't think of why they should.

The witch waved her hand at Tom while he struggled to get up, and he quickly discovered that he couldn't move. He shouted something at her that came out garbled through his frozen lips, but the witch didn't seem all that concerned with him. Instead, she looked up to the open window and shouted, "Tom Troas, come down here."

"I am down here," Tom complained, but a few things were starting to come into place for him. Everything that was happening seemed very familiar, and he knew that he was seeing his own past. Now, he gazed around the alley and decided that it looked very familiar.

Quickly enough, a man emerged from a door to the alley. From where Tom lie on the ground, he could see all that happened perfectly, but he was hidden by the shadows of the garbage cans. The man who had entered was himself- dressed in a suit. This was the night he'd been turned into a cat.

The Tom from the past looked furious, and he advanced on the witch. "Who are you?" he demanded, but the witch didn't answer, just as the Tom on the ground had known she wouldn't answer. Past-Tom took a threatening step forward and again asked, "Who are you? How do you know my name?"

The witch smiled, and gave a sly wink to the Tom on the ground. "Be quiet," she said quite clearly, and she waved her hands. Immediately, Past- Tom fell backward in a faint. The Tom on the ground discovered that he could move once again, and he rose from his hiding spot. While he watched, the witch turned the other Tom into a cat.

While he transformed, he grew smaller- cat-sized, and his suit ended up draped around the little cat. "Get dressed," the witch said distastefully, and Tom gratefully began to put his own clothes on. While he did so, the witch explained some things.

"The object of that spell was not for you to kiss your true love," she explained. "You just looked at all the wrong clues. The important thing that I was trying to teach you was to be happy and have fun. Before you became a cat, all you cared about was work, and I knew you were doomed to unhappiness if I didn't interfere. Even as a cat, you would never chase your ball or anything- it took you long enough to figure out that you didn't have any responsibility, and you could enjoy yourself a little."

Tom carefully buttoned up his jacket. It was very wrinkled after he'd tried to sleep in it all those nights ago. Or was it still the same night? The witch continued to speak. "You didn't change back into a human because you kissed Mona. You changed back because you genuinely enjoyed yourself while you escaped, and you'd forgotten about responsibility and work and everything. It was just a coincidence that you kissed her right before you changed."

"And what about Mona?" Tom asked, satisfied that his clothes were all on. "So maybe she's not necessarily my 'true love.' We're in the same situation- I discovered how to have fun with her around. How are you going to fix the mess I got into when I changed?"

"That's not my responsibility," the witch replied. "The key wasn't Mona- it was your attitude. Besides, right now, she is at home, and her family is helping her unpack for the summer. Don't you remember what you just saw? I've brought you back in time, tonight is the night you turned into a cat, and as far as Mona knows, you don't even exist. I suggest you forget about her and think about your old friends who knew you as a human- friends like Jessica."

"So, what?" Tom demanded. "I'm just supposed to smile and shake off all that's happened this summer, or all that's going to happen? You just want me to pick up where I left off?"

"That's the idea," the witch said, ignoring his sarcasm. "This time, though, try to enjoy yourself a little more. I don't want to have to come hunt you down if you go back to your old ways. After all, the streets of New York aren't friendly to stray cats. As for right now, though, your room key is in your left pocket. Your plane will leave tomorrow morning at 7:25. I suggest you don't miss it."

"And that's it?" Tom cried. He couldn't think of anything else to ask or protest, but he was dissatisfied with how everything had turned out. "This is your idea of a solution?" he asked, but the witch was already fading away. The air around her rippled, and she was, in a moment, gone.

He glanced down at the sleeping cat. It was really kind of cute. He shook his head, feeling ridiculous, and pulled the room key out of his pocket. Luckily, it had his room number on it, and after some wandering around, he found it.

He'd forgotten quite how dirty his room was, but now, as he stepped in, he remembered why he'd chosen to sleep on the floor that night. Distastefully, he looked about his room, then realized that after all that had happened, he was too anxious to sleep. Instead, he took a seat next to the telephone, and dialed a number. He still had it memorized after all this time.

It rang three times, then Jessica answered. "Hello?"