Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)
TITLE: RAINBOW BRIDGE?
By Helen Dowd
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A common belief amongst pet lovers is that their beloved pets which have gone on before them, will be waiting at a place called RAINBOW BRIDGE. A comfort at the time of a pet's death, but is it so? Who knows?
I shut my eyes, recalling my menagerie.
My eyes glaze over. I am translated to a future time. I'm in a valley filled with flowers and shrubs. The dew, like little dancing fairies, glistens on the leaves. Into my mind flash the lines of a poem: "Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge." I am enveloped in a rainbow, standing on a bridge. I gasp.
Overhead is a multitude of birds: crows, jays, starlings, sparrows, robins, oriels, canaries, humming birds. Birds I have fed and attended over the years? Then I hear barking, mewing, braying, bleating, cooing, crowing. Behold a troop is hurrying across the bridge. Pets from my past? To greet me?
Skip puts his gigantic paws on my shoulders and licks my face. Oh what a good dog was Skip, a shepherd, in the true sense of the word: faithful, intelligent, loving, protective of all his domain. I recall his untimely death when a heartless driver intentionally swerves to hit him. The memories of the all-night vigil I spent with him, weeping, praying, holding him, wishing him to live, but waiting for his inevitable death, bring tears streaming down my face. I return Skip's kiss. He removes his paws from my shoulder and steps aside, making way for…
I am swept off my feet as numerous dogs and cats swarm around me, barking, purring, licking the tears from my face. I blink my eyes. Ah yes, I recognize them. I call each by name as they clamber around me, recalling that period of my life that they were a part of. Each seems to have a smile for me… I feel a soft touch on my leg. I look down. My blind cat? But now she can see me. I pick her up and cuddle her. She had meant so much to me, and oh how I missed her. And here she is to greet me!
The sound of clitter-clatter of feet startle me. I turn my head. I can't believe it! A goat on RAINBOW BRIDGE? "Em?" She kicks her feet in the air. But she hadn't come alone. I turn, feeling a woolly head nuzzle my hand. "G.G.?"-- my pet lamb who had met an untimely death. This was too much! Then, coming from all directions, rabbits—too numerous to name, but remembered just the same, swarm around my feet. And the familiar "cock-a-doodle-do", "cut-cut-kadakit" of the dozens of bantam chickens I had given Biblical names to. All pets from my past.
I hear a fluttering over head: Chip, our pigeon, accompanied by a few budgies and a cockatiel land on my shoulder…Glorying in their attention, I glance to my left. Slithering up the side of the bridge, is a salamander. Rescued from certain death, Sammy lived a life of ease in an aquarium for several years. I touched his cold, smooth back. He grinned.
Something furry crawling around my feet makes me look down. Guinea pigs? So many of them: such fun it was, creating an out-door, protected home for these little creatures. And they're here too? The tears begin again.
I hear a rustling in the bush in the valley below the bridge. Looking up at me with doleful eyes are a couple of deer. Oh yes, I remember! The deer who came into our yard each morning, nibbling at the hay we had left out for them…They seem to smile at me…I sigh…
I begin to stir, to come out of my trance. But wait! There's something wrong. What about my present pets? My loyal dog and loving cats? Where are they? I open my mouth to call out their names, but I have no voice.
A sharp bark! I sit up. A pile of cats fall off my chest. My dog is licking my tears. I smile. My arms reach out to my cats. They haven't abandoned me! I'm not on RAINBOW BRIDGE. I am at home.
I begin to laugh, a funny thought striking me:
where all our pets will meet us, to escort us o'er the ridge.
What a troop there'll be to greet ME,
should there be a RAINBOW BRIDGE!
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