In Loving Memory Of Pupkat
Written by Consta Jenkins
Reprinted by permission of the author
The sun crept its way up to the horizon, shooting one perfect amber ray into the air-like a cat taking a luxurious stretch. Eatbugs squeezed his eyes in contentment, and drew a deep long breath of the sweet air. He loved this time of the morning, when the deep cobalt sky gave way to warm crystal blue and the stars twinkled their goodbyes for another day. The Bridge was almost silent now, with the Company still snoozing quietly, furriends twined around each other and peepers draped over patient adults. Only a few, like himself, who rose to greet the day, moved about. Eatbugs stretched his paws out and stropped the deep velvet grass with his claws.
"Good Morrow, Eatbugs." Virginia's voice was hushed, as if not to shatter the absolute peace of the moment.
"Good Morrow." Eatbugs studied her silhouette for a moment as she gazed out over the Rainbow. Her fur gleamed in the golden morning light, her whimsical colors belying the wisdom within. Eatbugs sat for a moment, totally in awe of the Elder.
She turned to him and smiled. "You cannot see yourself, Little One."
Eatbugs jumped. His nose leather turned a deeper shade of pink.
"We are all beautiful in the eyes of the Creator, Little One. Each of us shines with that beauty here. "
"Gosh. I just thought there were a lot of good looking kiddens."
Virginia laughed. "There are, Little One, there are."
Bea padded quietly up to join them. She drew a deep breath, then let out a contented sigh. "Might as well enjoy the quiet," she said with a smile, "it won't last long now."
"Because the 'brothers' three' just woke up."
Eatbugs and Virginia laughed. Nikkie, Little Dots and Pouncequick would, without doubt, waste no time finding some grand 'venture to embark on. One day they'd decided AJ was really the boogie cat-and stalked him all day. It was all the poor kidden could do to get a decent nap.
"I'm not sure," Bea said, "but I think I heard them muttering something about mighty hunters on the Serengeti.... you might want to keep your tail tucked in!"
"Maybe we ought to let Isolde have a paw at them then they'd..." Eatbugs stopped mid-breath. Virginia was no longer listening. Her eyes gazed, without seeing, over the Rainbow's edge. She listened, he knew, to the voice only the Elders could hear. Eatbugs bowed his head. Another came.
After a moment a deep sigh escaped her lips, and Virginia blinked her eyes back into focus. "Gather at the Gate," she said, then turned and padded quickly away.
Eatbugs knew not to question, even if the Welcoming Song had not yet begun its sad, sweet song. He turned and with Bea silently made his way. As they walked they were joined, one by one and two by two, by all the Company of Kiddens. Some still yawned from their slumbers. Some cocked their ears into the wind, listening for the Song, but all of them came.
Eatbugs sat before the Gate, listening, waiting. Creamsickle and Putt-Putt came to join him. Blackie and Max sat with Vito and Sherman. Katze and Panther sat with AJ and Noki. All the Company came. Eatbugs knew another came, but this time it was different. He did not understand how, but he felt it in his whiskers. He turn to speak to Creamsickle and gasped. There were kiddens as far as the eye could see. Thousands of them, of every color and every breed. They sat together, heads bowed-every kidden on the Rainbow Bridge. Beyond the kiddens sat thousands of dogs, and rabbits and animals of every kind. The trees above him were filled with chirps. Eatbugs felt a chill run down his spine as he realized that every animal that had ever known the love of a human gathered now. He swallowed hard, past the lump in his throat, and felt a sadness he did not understand.
He turned to look for Virginia. Virginia could explain. He finally caught sight of her in the throng of fur. She and the Elders made their way to the center of the Circle. Virginia lifted her head, gazing out over the gathering, then she began to sing. The song broke Eatbugs' heart as finally understood. The one that came knew the warmth of human love, but he also knew the horrors of human cruelty. Eatbugs wept as he raised his voice to join the song. Isolde, Spice and the other Elders sang of peace and comfort while the gathering around them sang their song of Welcome. Finally the wind joined their lament, as the Welcoming Song raised its refrain. The music swirled in the breeze, the plaintive melody of the kiddens twining around the soulful baying of the dogs.
When the Song reached its crest, a light so bright that Eatbugs' had to close his eyes against it flashed across the Gate. When he opened them, two kiddens sat at the Gate. One was a little grey and white kidden, who blinked and stared at the group before him. Beside him sat the Creator. She glimmered silvery-white, her fur reflecting every color of the Rainbow. She wrapped herself around the young tom and purred. Every animal on the Bridge felt her love, washing over Pupkat, washing over them. They felt her words more than heard them as she repeated her Great Promise. They felt all fear, all pain, all memories of cruelty fading forever away. The world beyond the Bridge held evil along with the good, but here in the place of waiting she made, not even the memory of evil could linger.
At length the Creator stepped away from Pupkat. She bent and kissed his forehead, the shimmered quietly from view. Pupkat sat for a second, a quizzical look on his face. "I can breathe," he said not quite understanding why that should come as a surprise.
One by one, the Company of Kiddens came up to make their greetings. Promises were made for games of chasies and naps in the sun. Pupkat would be shown the best sleepy spots and mostest fun games and when the nip fields were at their full bloom. He touched noses and exchanged purrs and headbutts with all who came before him.
When the last of the greetings were given, Isolde stepped up to the young tom. She headbutted him gently, then led him to the Rainbow's edge. "Go ahead. They'll hear you."
Pupkat cocked his head for a second, then gathered his thoughts and sent them earthward. "Mom and Dad? Can you hear me? I'm here. I'm home. I can breathe now. I don't hurt. I'll be here-always. I am waiting."
And with that, he turned and made his way home.
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