In Loving Memory Of Fourteen Woodruff

Written by Consta Jenkins

Reprinted by permission of the author

The soft breeze that wafted over the Rainbow Bridge carried the scent of fresh grass mingled with catnip. Eatbugs drew in a deep breath, then slowly exhaled, savoring the sweet crispness of it. The midday sun washed the fields in warm, golden light as the kiddens of the Company went about their day.

Pouncequick was in the tall grass, working at living up to his name. He hunkered low to the ground, wound up his bottom, then leapt as high in the air as his little legs would lift him. Eatbugs smiled. For such a little butt, it wiggled quite impressively.

AJ and Noki busied themselves in a mammoth wrestling session. They gleefully rolled tail over head, bunny kicking wildly.

Isolde and Spice lounged together under the willows. Paws stretched daintly out in front, they talked quietly together of days gone by and friendships shared.

Eatbugs padded through the grass nodding and dancing his tail in greeting as he passed his furiends. He had promised the peepers he'd officiate at their hockey game. He came up to Pupkat, who was looking a little confused. "Hi, Pupkat, what's the matter?"

"I'm helping with the hockey game - but I can't quite get the rules straight. Nikkie tried to explain them..."

Eatbugs laughed. "I'm sure he did."

"If a kidden hits the puck with their back left paw and it doesn't go in, it's a do-over???" Pupkat shook his head.

"Umhm, and if it does go in but the goalie had his tail pointed south, it doesn't count."

"You're kidding?"

Eatbugs smiled at his new furiend. "I'll let you in on a secret. There are no rules. Well, sitting on the puck isn't allowed, but otherwise anything goes."

"Then what are we supposed to do?" Pupkat scratched his ear in confusion.

"Stand around, break up squabbles and generally tell them all what wonderful hockey players they are." Eatbugs grinned.

"Oh."

The furiends arrived at the field, to find a slew of peepers rolling and wrestling with gay abandon. It was no small task to get them separated and ready to play, but once the task was accomplished, Eatbugs threw the puck up in the air and the games began.

Pupkat's eyes grew huge watching the melee before him. Peepers where everywhere, writhing, tumbling. At one point the puck lay ignored mid-field as a wad of peepers rolled gleefully down the field. Eatbugs laughed. "Hockey is sort of a loose term around here where the peepers are concerned."

"So I see. How can you tell who wins?"

"You don't." Eatbugs chuckled. "So far they haven't noticed that each team 'wins' every other game. Today, the 'Terrible Tigercats' will take the game." He was about to break up the wad of peepers when he felt it in his whiskers.

"Come, Little One, you are needed."

Eatbugs bowed his head for a moment, then turned to Pupkat. "Take over for me." He turned and padded his way to the Circle of the Elders.

As he reached the clearing, he found the Elders already met. They stood in a circle around a kidden. Isolde moved aside, and Eatbugs saw it was Grace who sat there. His heart ached for his furiend. He took his place in the Circle as the comforting started.

Grace lifted his voice first, singing a sad sweet song. It swirled in the breeze above them, then drifted its way to the kidden below. He sang of days long ago, of companionship in the sun. He sang of love shared and years of warmth.

Then the Elders lifted their voices to join him. Virginia sang of comfort. Her voice eased away all pain, easing the way for the one below.

Isolde sang of Welcome. She sang of days in the Rainbow's glow and the companionship of the Company.

Eatbugs lifted his voice into song. He sang of the Great Promise, of love unbroken and reunions to come.

One by one the Elders added their thread to the tapestry. They wove a song so beautiful that Eatbugs throat tightened to hear it. They sang away all pain, all fear. They sang of sunny days and warmth and love.

At last the Elders let the last of their words fade gently into the breeze as Grace sang the last of the song. He sang his sister home.

"It is time." Virginia rose and led the gathered kiddens in their journey to the Gate. As they padded along, all the Company of Kiddens joined them. AJ and Noki walked with Max and Picnic. Vito and Gina walked with Bea and Lino. Creamsickle and Putt Putt walked with Spunkie and Ebony. Together they came, all of the Company.

They formed their Circle at the Gate as the Welcoming Song began its bittersweet refrain. It danced in the air round them, then turned its way toward the earth. The Kiddens lifted their purrs into the wind, and sent them to the heart below.

When the blue light flashed and subsided, a beautiful queen sat blinking at the Company. She let out a sigh and whispered, "It was time." Grace bounded forward to welcome his sister. He purred so hard he rocked back and forth as he headbutted her and washed her face.

Fourteen smiled and purred back at him. "I've missed you." They nuzzled each other for a moment, then the Company came forward to make their greetings. Noses were offered and face licks exchanged. Each promised to show her around, play hockey, share naps. Each promised her days full of love and companionship.

When the last of the Company made their welcome, Grace led his sister to the Rainbow's edge. "It's okay. She will hear you. Maybe not for a while, not until the pain in her heart begins to fade, but she will hear you."

Fourteen pursed her whiskers in concentration and sent her thoughts to the heart below. "Mom? I'm here Mom. I'm whole again. I'm young again. Grace is here! I love you-I will always love you."

As Fourteen finished, Grace sent his thoughts below. "I'll take good care of her for you. We are here and we are waiting."

And with that he led his sister home.

© Copyright 1999 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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