In Loving Memory Of Eatbugs Jenkins
Written by Consta Jenkins
Reprinted by permission of the author
There was a blinding flash and noise exploded all around him. The small kitten felt himself falling, but not falling. The world seemed to be spinning away and he could not tell if he was going up or down. He twitched his whiskers and swished his tail, but could not get his bearings. He felt so strange. After what seemed like a very long time, the spinning slowed and he came to rest.
Laying low to the ground, he did not move at first, and was afraid to open his eyes. Everything was so quiet, there were no chirps or dog dogs, nothing but a very faint sound, like the wind rustling through the leaves. He called out for his sister and brother, but no one answered him. He called out for the big lady, but still no answer. He was a brave boy kitten, but his courage had deserted him. He curled up in a tight little ball and softly began to cry.
He did not hear the others approach him. A strange voice spoke his name and he shot up hissing and puffing. How could he have been so stupid! Surrounded by strange cats, he arched his back and hissed, "Don't you touch me! I'll scratch you. I will!"
A grey striped queen stepped out of the crowd and took a step towards him. He backed up a step, but she simply sat and smoothed her long fur. When her fur was to her satisfaction, she looked directly at him and spoke again, "You must be Eatbugs".
She knew him! "who are you? How do you know my name?".
"My name is Little Bit, and I, we, have come to greet you. I know your name because......"
She did not have a chance to finish. A dog dog came running up and before Eatbugs could even get his claws out, the dog dog licked him from nose to tail-tip. Eatbugs sat and blinked. He really heated it when dog dogs did that. the grey queen, Little Bit, rolled her eyes. "Penny, please! He has not been properly welcomed!".
The dog dog sat and wagged its tail. "I am sorry" and turning to Eatbugs burst out, "How are my humans? How is the big man?? How are my girls??".
Eatbugs had never seen such a round dog dog dance before, but this one was most certainly doing just that. Despite himself, Eatbugs found himself liking the dog. "I'm sorry. I don't know your humans, but I hope that they are all well".
The grey queen walked slowly up to him and gently licked his face. "Eatbugs, you do know Penny's humans. That is why we came to greet you and that is how I know your name." Eatbugs looked around a the strange cats and the dog dog, they all looked suddenly sad. He began to be afraid again.
Little Bit motioned to the others and they quietly moved closer to Eatbugs. a pretty calico came up to him and offered her nose in greeting. "I am Ophelia, welcome to the Rainbow Bridge". a beautiful black tom with the smallest white patch under his chin said, "I am Astoreth, welcome". A large furry tom with the biggest feet Eatbugs had ever seen came next, "I am Aragon, Son of Arrewyn, but our humans called me Wookie, welcome". One by one, each of the cats presented their nose, Graymalkin, Mitzi, Panther, Tiger, Double Ugly (though Eatbugs didn't think she was ugly!).
Finally the last of the cats approached. A black and white tom with round chops leaned forward. "I am called Wort, welcome to the rainbow bridge".
Eatbugs jumped back. Wort! Jenny had told him about Wort. Eatbugs hissed, "You went away! Jenny told me! You used to live with my humans, but you went away and made them sad!".
Wort hung his head, "I didn't want to go away. I didn't mean to make them sad. None of us did."
Eatbugs gasped, "You all went away? And now you want me to go away too! NO!! I want to go home!". He began to wail.
Little Bit spoke quietly, "Eatbugs, I'm sorry. You have already 'gone away'".
"NO!", Eatbugs cried, "I want 'Listy! 'Liath, where are you???"
Astoreth came over to Eatbugs and quietly washed his face. He purred gently and lay down close to Eatbugs.. The other cats drew closer and joined in the purring. When Eatbugs calmed down, Astoreth spoke, "I am sorry Eatbugs, but our humans are sad again. We all felt that sorrow and knew that you were coming. All of us lived with and loved our humans, but each in our own time had to leave and come here. I was very sick and our humans did everything they could to keep me, but one day I couldn't hold on any longer and I came here." The dog dog barked, "I was sick, too, and the vet told our humans to send me here. But they wouldn't. The big man told the vet that as long as I did not hurt I could stay with them. I tried real hard to stay, but one night I went to sleep and woke up here." Each cat, in turn, told Eatbugs of how they came to the Rainbow Bridge.
Eatbugs began to cry again. "It isn't so bad," said Wookie.
"But I'll never see 'Listy again, or 'Liath, or Jenny or my humans," said Eatbugs and buried his face in Little Bit's fur.
"Oh, but you will, little one. When it is time for 'Listy and 'Liath to come, you will be here to greet them. And we will all wait together for our humans and someday we will all be together again."
Eatbugs lifted his head and snorted (apparently you still shed on the Rainbow Bridge), and blinked, "Really?".
"Really," chuckled Little Bit, "would you like to come and meet the others?".
"Others! How many cats, uh excuse me, cats and dog dogs have our humans lived with??"
"Not our humans, we are not the only ones here. All the cats and dogs and other animals ever loved by humans are here waiting. Come on, let's go home."
Eatbugs stood up and looked over his shoulder and felt the sadness creeping over him again. He felt a nudge and looked up into the eyes of the dog dog Penny. Eatbugs paused, he didn't know if he should tell her about the black dog dogs that the big man loved now. "Oh, don't worry," said Penny, "I know about his new dogs. Humans can love lots of animals, just like we love more than one human. I loved my big man and the big lady and my girls. I know that he loves his new dogs, but it's not the same. Each of us had a very special place in our human's heart that no other animal can fill. That's why we wait here, so we can all be together again and all be whole again. Come on, let's go."
Eatbugs looked at Penny and despite his better cat judgment, decided he really liked this dog dog. He stood up and followed the others over the Bridge.
When they had crossed over to the other side, Eatbugs stopped and gasped. He had never seen so many different animals in all his life. There were cats and dog dogs and chirps and slithery things and mice! Astoreth leaned over, "There is only one rule -- we're not allowed to hunt each other! We are all friends here. It takes time, but you'll get used to it".
Eatbugs sat and looked around. It was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. The sky was a cloudless blue and everything seemed to glow. There were fields of tall grass to play in (and an active game of hide and swipe was in progress) and plenty of sunny spots to go around. There were trees unlike any he had ever seen before. They were tall and pale and had plenty of branches to climb. Cats and chirps lounged side by side.
Some distance away there was a huge gate and off to one side was a much smaller door. "What's that?", he asked. "That is the door into Heaven. That's where the humans who cross the Bridge live", answered Ophelia.
"They don't live with us?," asked Eatbugs, growing concerned. "Oh, yes. The small door is so we can come out and play. And to greet others as they come."
A young kitten came running up. "Do you play hockey? Do you? Huh? We can always use good hockey players. My name is Sunny. Wanna play later?" and was off in a single bound.
"Uh, yes, maybe later...", but Eatbugs realized he was talking to the air and stopped short. They played hockey in Heaven! Eatbugs thought, "Well, 'Listy will like it here." He felt a sharp pang.
Ophelia twined her tail around his, "It gets easier, my little friend. It will take time, but you will soon feel at home here."
Eatbugs decided to investigate his new home. There were so many things to be sniffed. The dog dog and the cats were never far away. They showed him the best sleepy spots and answered all of his questions. There weren't any rules in Heaven (except that part about not eating each other) and everyone seemed to be happy. He was examining a particularly interesting patch of catnip when a commotion started around him. The animals stopped their games and rose from their naps. Eatbugs could sense a change in the sound in the air and his whiskers began to tingle. "What does it mean?". Little Bit turned to him, her eyes were quite sad. "Another cat is crossing the Bridge. Come let us greet her".
Her! "Not 'Listy! or Jenny??", cried Eatbugs.
"No," said Little Bit, "She is not one of our humans' friends".
"Then why are we going to meet her," asked Eatbugs, turning to follow the others.
"Because, my little one, she has no one to meet her." Little Bit walked in silence the rest of the way. Eatbugs looked around. All of the animals seemed to share Little Bit's intense sorrow. He wondered who this kitten was to cause so much concern. They arrived at the Gate and waited. There was a flash of light and when it subsided, a small grey tabby kitten sat there. Eatbugs had never seen a cat look so forlorn. Her coat was dirty and unkempt. She was so thin that her ribs showed and some of her fur had fallen out.
"Who is she?" Eatbugs asked.
"A cat that no human loved", sighed Little Bit.
"No one loved her?" Eatbugs could not imagine that. The young cat began to cry and the animals gently approached her with reassuring purrs and licks. "What will happen to her? Will any humans come for her?".
"No", said Little Bit, "No one loved her on earth, so no one will come for here here. We will love her and take care of her. Unless some human passes that will care for her, we will be her family."
Eatbugs thought for a moment and ran over to the kitten. "Don't cry. My humans will love you., They will, I know they will."
"And mine," said stately Siamese.
"And mine", said an orange tabby, "I was dirty and hungry and they took me in and loved me. I know they will love you too!". Dozens of cats reassured the frightened kitten that she would be loved. Slowly her fear subsided and she sank to the ground. Two large toms picked and carried her over the Bridge. "Don't worry, Eatbugs, she will be cared for," said Astoreth, "and I know that one of the humans will love her."
When they had seen to it that the new kitten had been tended to, washed and fed, the animals slowly returned to their games and naps. Eatbugs continued to explore. He had to defend his tail once from a very young kitten and came around a tree to find himself nose to nose with a strange dog dog, but otherwise his day passed without incident. He began to feel more comfortable with his new home. He spoke to several cats and promised to join in a game of hide and swipe later. He bumped into Sunny (who was still bounding around looking for hockey players) and promised to play with him too.
Late in the afternoon, when she was certain that Eatbugs was going to be all right, Penny excused herself, saying that her friend the rabbit had consented to be chased and that she would see Eatbugs later. Little Bit had settled down to a good bath and was intent on cleaning her toe tufts and the other cats had found nice patches of sun to lounge in.
Eatbugs walked back to the end of the Bridge and looked over. It wasn't so bad after all. He would miss his humans and his siblings, but he knew he would see them again. He laid down in a patch of sun, put his chin on his paw and sighed. He hoped Mommy-Consta would remember to bring his chirp on a stick.
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