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M. C. Syben
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Rainbow Bridge by M.C. Syben (revised)
Kat and I were lucky pets until our family vanished, leaving us in the yard with little food and water, never to return. Seasons later, I rest in a roadside culvert while Kat swats at a variety of bugs. A melancholy overcomes me as I study her slowed movements and tattered coat. We’ve followed the memory of our family’s scent, hoping to discover what happened to them. Reminiscences of Tommy sustain me: playing ball with him—how Tommy giggled as Kat cleaned his ears.
“Bo, you are day dreaming again.”
“True, dear Kat.”
“I miss Tommy, too, but have faith. I bet he’s grown quite tall.”
“Yes. Sadly, I’m afraid he has long forgotten us.”
“Pfft. Tommy loves us. We are in his heart. As excellent hunters and with your keen scent skills, we’ve survived this adventure. We’ll locate him, old boy, I feel it—him.”
“Old, you say? Pot calling the kettle black,” I tease.
“Hiss. We cats are tougher, with longer life spans, than you shepherds.”
Actually, Kat’s indignation eases my blues. I remember how she acted with disdain when I arrived as a pup— “an intruder,” she thought. Soon, my charms won her heart. While loving Tommy, we grew close, becoming confidants. However, one topic we do not usually discuss is death. Today, my old bones urge me to speak.
“Do you believe the Rainbow Bridge stories, Kat?”
“A silly thing to question—of course I do. We cross the bridge when our bodies end—a peaceful existence on the other side with plenty of food. The Creator will fill our hearts with His love—never to be forgotten again. Remember, we’ll be young too.” Kat laughs. “The sun always shines there—don’t doubt the truth for a second.”
I respect Kat’s wisdom. She licks the last bit of bug off her paw, then curls up to me. She feels her aches and pains as I do. A more comfortable shelter must be located for the night, hidden away from the Capture truck. But, for now, a quick nap will do.
“Bo, wake up. Hurry.”
“Sh. They’re very close. Quickly, follow me.”
My muscles respond sluggishly toward our pre-planned escape exit. This time, the noose comes too close but I manage to elude it. Kat’s alertness has saved us.
I exclaim between heaving pants, “We must go further into the country or risk being trapped.”
Kat nods. The run was grueling on her too.
In unison, we turn toward the west, the last direction we smelled Tommy years before. We trek through the woods where no truck can follow. While Kat stalks tonight’s meal, I chase off ambitious hawks that dive with talons extended. I wonder how much longer we can protect each other.
“If ever we we’re caught and landed in the building that smells of death, would it be as awful as we heard?”
“Yes. Cages, filth, death—it’s all true. Worse, humans would separate us first thing—that would be unspeakable. We are an odd couple but a couple we are.”
I think about Kat’s statement. Kat and I are a pair, yet, we search for a family from long ago. I wonder why. Why do I pine for humans who never said goodbye when we have each other? Suddenly, I understand: Kat and I are also family. We protect each other. We love each other. Isn’t that what a family does?
Unexpectedly, I catch a whiff of smoke. Warmth!
“Forward, Kat. We’ll make it before sundown if we pick up the pace.”
There—a rotted shed behind the cabin’s billowing chimney. Snow flurries begin to whirl. Ice will form soon, too. Kat is exhausted. We nestle under a wheelbarrow that leans against stacks of old newspaper, happy to be together—how fortunate to love and be loved. Shivering against the bitter chill, we two old souls, close our eyes.
We awake warm and comfortable. “Oh, my,” Kat whispers. We stand side by side on the beautiful Rainbow Bridge.
“Can it be?” I bark like a youngster again.
“We have arrived here together, Bo.”
Delighted, Kat and I romp over Rainbow Bridge as the Creator’s love fills us. We think happiness has peaked until we hear a familiar call.
“It’s Tommy,” I bay.
Tommy kneels, glowing, arms outstretched.
“Our Tommy,” Kat meows while jumping into his arms.
Our reunited family celebrates while blending into the heavenly dynasty—our forever and ever home.
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