In Loving Memory Of Puffin Johnson

Written by Consta Jenkins

Reprinted by permission of the author

The sun hung low in the sky over the horizon over the Rainbow Fields. The golden warmth of the day gently faded into the cool briskness of evening. Eatbugs deftly whisked the last crumbs of kibble from his whiskers. He waited for Creamsickle to finish his meal. The two furriends planned to get in a game of hide and swipe before the evening's storytelling.

Pouncequick and Nikkie batted at any tail within paw-reach. Eatbugs, feeling magnanimous, flicked his enticingly near the two peepers. He feigned shock as he felt them descend upon it. He suppressed a smile as they scampered off giggling, in search of their next "kill".

"So, you survived the Great Marauders?" Creamsickle chuckled.

"Barely...the attack was most vicious." Eatbugs twitched his tail. "It may never be the same."

"Oh, I'm sure it will be healed in plenty of time for tomorrow's attack." Creamsickle winked. "They are nothing if not predictable."

"And you, of course, never pounced on a tail as lad?"

"More than my share, but my sisters were less accommodating than you are. I generally got my ears boxed for my efforts!"

Eatbugs laughed. "Isolde still hides her tail from me! And that kidden has a MEAN left hook!"

The two friends padded across the deep velvet grass to the willow stand. The trees made a perfect field for hide and swipe. They passed Vito and Gina wrestling in the grass. Picnic and Boots were trading tall tails about the mouse that got away. Catsup and Mandy were engaged a mutual face washies, and Noki and Sparky practiced their hockey shots. The Company of Kiddens spent the last hours of the day reveling in their furriends.

Eatbugs and Creamsickle found a likely willow and officially called the game. Creamsickle feinted to the left then sprang from the right to tap Eatbugs firmly on the behind. "One for me!" and the game was on. They darted among the willow trees, bopping and dodging and laughing all the while. The score was 8-6 for Creamsickle when Little Dots voice cut through the air.

"Mr. Eatbugs! Mr. Eatbugs! Come quick!" The peeper was frantic.

"What's the matter?"

"It's Pooska. . .oh Mr. Eatbugs, it's justest awful."

Eatbugs and Creamsickle dashed across the field. Pooska lay by the Rainbow's Edge, his eyes held a look of such sorrow and his breathing was sharp and shallow. "Pooska, Pooska, what's wrong?" Eatbugs gently licked his furriend's head.

"Oh Eatbugs. I can't stand it. She hurts so much."

Eatbugs hung his head. He understood only too well now the cause of his furriend's distress. "It will be all right. I promise."

"And my mom and dad. Oh Eatbugs, their hearts are breaking. So many tears. . .so much sorrow."

Eatbugs nuzzled Pooska's ear. There were no words to help now. Now came the waiting. He looked out over the Rainbow and sent his silent prayers to the aching hearts below, then he heard it, the voice that spoke in his mind, "Bring him to the clearing, Little One."

Eatbugs nudged Pooska to his feet. "Come on. It will be all right. The Elders can help."

The kiddens made their solemn way to the clearing of the Elders. As they passed, the Kiddens of the Company stopped their games, hanging their heads in quiet prayer for their brother in need. When the reached the clearing, the Elders sat silently in their circle. Isolde guided Pooska to the center and stood solemnly by his side. The Elders started their chant, encircling Pooska with their strength, then turned their comfort toward the earth. They sang of Great Promise. They sang comfort and strength to the kidden who suffered below. They sang to ease all pain, to wipe away all fear. Their words touched the soul of the kidden below, and they added their words of welcome as they felt her spirit preparing to join them. But the human hearts could not hear. Their sorrow was so great, the loss so overwhelming that the song of the Elders could not reach them.

"My parents. Oh please, please. . ." A tear trickled down Pooska's face.

The Elders redoubled their song, but still the heartache overcame their words.

Eatbugs sang with all his heart, and ached that the words brought no relief. Then it hit him. The Song of the Elders was powerful, but there was something far more powerful. He knew what he had to do.

He turned and ran from the clearing. "Come with me!" he cried as he ran, "Hurry!"

The Company of Kiddens did not stop to ask. They fell in behind him, one by one. They dashed with all the speed their paws could muster to the edge of the Rainbow Bridge. The last rays of light fell beyond the horizon as the Company of Kiddens leapt from the Bridge to dance among the stars. Tonight would be no ordinary dance. The leap frogged across the stars until they came at last to the Earth. "Now!" cried Eatbugs.

The Company of Kiddens lifted their voices. They purred with all their might. They sang of the love bonds still tying them to the Earth. They sang of the Promise of love yet to come. They sang their memories of gentle strokes and loving words. They sang of the Rainbow Bridge and all that it held and promised...of days filled with laughter and tomorrows filled with reunion. If the words of the Elders could not comfort, the sheer volume of the Company could not be ignored. The deepest of hurts, the immensity of sorrow had no choice but to yield to their song. Eatbugs felt it in the core of his being. The humans below had finally heard. Tears of joy rolled down his face. Their sorrow would still linger, but in their heart of hearts they had heard. Good-byes are not forever. Love cannot be denied.

"Come back, Little One," came the voice in his mind, "it is time."

He signaled to the Company, and they dashed their way back across the sky. To the Bridge they flew, landing in groups and dashing to the foot of the Gate. The Welcoming Song reeled in the air around them, it's bittersweet refrain lifting in the wind and winding its way below.

As the last of the Company gathered, the now too familiar blue light flashed before them. In it's wake sat a beautiful tabby cat. Her gray fur gleamed sleek in the moonlight, her eyes bright and clear. She took a tentative step and then stopped. There was no pain. She stared at her stomach in disbelief...her fur was soft, no wounds could be found. She looked up at the Company before her and sighed. "It was time."

Pooska ran to his sister and gently nuzzled her neck. "It will be all right now. You are home! I promised Mom and Dad I'd look after you until we are together again."

Puffin looked out over the night sky. She had wanted so much to stay, but her March of Days had been run. She knew it in her heart and she ached for the hearts below. "Will they be all right?" In her mind's eye she could see them, grieving, hurting.

"In time. They must grieve for you now. Humans understand the Great Promise, but it is still hard for them at first. But in time, when the sorrow fades, they will remember our March of Days with love. "

"I hope that day comes soon." Puffin felt a tear run down her cheek. "I don't want them to hurt for long."

"Come on. You can help." Pooska led her to the Rainbow's edge and showed her how to purse her whiskers and broadcast her thoughts. She drew all her will together and sent her words out into the night sky. "Please don't cry for me. I am here. I will always be here. Oh please, Mom and Dad, don't hurt for too long. I am whole again. I am here and I am waiting."

And with that, the Company of Kiddens led her to her new 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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