In Loving Memory Of Alfie Rose

Written by Consta Jenkins

Reprinted by permission of the author

There was light.

It wasn't sunlight or the light from the things that mom called "lamps". Alfie tried to focus his eyes, but there was only light. He felt as if he was floating, carried on the wind weighing nothing at all. He thought for a moment that he should be afraid. His paw paws weren't touching anything and he felt so very, very light--but he knew there was nothing to fear.

Then, in what felt like the blink of an eye, the pale irridescent light around him shimmered. Colors appeared where none had been, deep rose, sunny yellow and finally a crystal clear blue. It grew so bright that Alfie closed his eyes against it. When he opened them, he sat on a soft mat of green grass and stared in wonder.

There were kiddens--more kiddens than Alfie had ever seen in one place. There were tabbies and calicoes and siamese, just about every breed he could think of sat smiling gently at him. He blinked.

A handsome amber and cream colored tom stepped forward and offered his nose in greeting. Alfie sniffed it gingerly at first, then felt his muscles relaxing. Friend...he smelled like friend.

"Welcome, Alfie, to the Rainbow Bridge," said the kidden, "I am Eatbugs."

Alfie gasped. The Rainbow Bridge? "NO!" he cried. He struggled to remember, but there was nothing. He was crossing the road, then there was nothing but the light. He hung his head and whispered, "no."

"I am sorry, friend, but it is so. We come to welcome you." Eatbugs gestured to the kiddens gathering around him.

"But, but my mom?"

Eatbugs' pale blue eyes held such sorrow that Alfie felt something catch in his chest.

"My mom? Please, is my mom all right?"

"She misses you." Eatbugs stared at his paws for a moment. "Alfie, this will be so very hard for her. She does not know."

"But..."

"She does not know you have made the journey. She misses you and waits."

Alfie turned his face toward the Earth and a tear trickled down his cheek. "Can't she know? Can't I tell her?"

A stately girl kidden nuzzled his ear. "I am Virginia," she said, "one of the Counsel of Elders. We will help you, but it will take time. She does not know you are here, she does not know to listen."

"Mom," Alfie whispered.

"All things in their time," purred Virginia. "Come now, let us show you your new home."

The days past, one after the other. Alfie was amazed with his new life. Eatbugs had roped him into giving peeper rides and his long fur was a rousing success. He'd almost convinced Little Dots *not* to use it as reigns. He'd played chasies with Creamsickle and Beethoven. Every day brought new friends and new offers, to join in Moki's hockey game, to share a sunny spot with Gypsy and Ariel. He sat under the shade of the willow and traded tall tails with Picnic and Rummie.

Every night, though, he'd go to the edge of the Rainbow, or dance through the stars with Eatbugs to look down on the Earth. Every night he'd send his love and his thoughts drifting toward the Earth. "I am here, Mom. I am home."

Each morning, he'd make his way slowly home. "All things in their time," Virginia would whisper to him.

It was easy to lose himself in the love of the Rainbow Bridge. His days were full of companionship and laughter. Pouncequick regaled him with questions about his sister Tabbitha, and while it first gave Alfie a pang to think of it, he found quickly that the memories brought only joy. AJ and Noki played the best Hide and Swipe Alfie had ever encountered, and Dusty-kidden wrestled better than Hacker even. Still, there was a tug at his heart.

*******

The morning sun crept over the horizon painting the sky in brilliant hues. The Rainbow Fields gleamed in all it's glory as the new day sprang to life. Eatbugs stood and yawned; Alfie couldn't help but join him. He arched his back and stretched long and hard, finishing with a quick stompy feet in the velvet grass. He turned to ask his furiend if he wanted to hit the kibble when he felt it.

There was a strange tingling in his whiskers. He looked up at Eatbugs and saw a sad smile start to creep over his face. "All things in their time," Eatbugs said softly.

"Mom!"

"She knows." Eatbugs nuzzled his furiend. "Come, it is time."

Eatbugs lead Alfie towards the Gate he'd landed in. As they walked the entire Company of Kiddens fell into step with them. Max walked with Gypsy. Jasmine and Putt Putt walked with Isolde and Persefino. Together they made their solemn journey.

Alfie cocked an ear; there was music, sad and sweet, drifting on the wind. "Beautiful," he whispered.

"It is the Welcoming Song," said Eatbugs, "for you and for your Mom. It is her sorrow that sings and the Great Promise that answers. Come on, we sing the counterpoint, the love bond that never ends." Eatbugs closed his eyes and lifted his purr into the Song.

Alfie stepped up to the edge of the Rainbow. He felt the love of the Company of Kiddens behind him, around him. He closed his eyes and lifted his voice. He sang of morning snuggles and sunny afternoons, of the tender scritches and quiet moments, but mostly he sang of the Promise and of waiting.

At last the music reached a crescendo and faded gently into silence. "She has accepted," said Virginia. "She understands."

Alfie nodded and smiled. He sat as the Company of Kiddens turned to make their way back to the Fields. "You coming?" asked Pouncequick.

"In a minute," he said. He felt a warmth spreading through him as the tugging in his heart faded. He looked out over the Earth and smiled, then he pursed his whiskers and gathered his thoughts. He let the love for his humans swell within him and turned his message homeward. "I am here, Mom. I'm all right. I love you and I am waiting."

Then he turned and made his way home.

© Copyright 1997 Constance Jenkins. All Rights Reserved. The author retains all copyright and intellectual rights to this work. It may not be printed in whole or in part without express written permission.
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