In Loving Memory Of Pyewacket Talley
Written by Consta Jenkins
Reprinted by permission of the author
The warm summer sun washed across the Rainbow Fields. Under its golden blanket, the grass glowed a vibrant green, like deep velvet touched throughout with golden threads. Eatbugs rolled over onto his back and breathed a deep, contented sigh. The sound of chirps chattering playfully in the trees above him brought a smile to his face. The day was perfect. All days on the Rainbow Bridge were glorious, but some just seemed to crystallize into sheer, joyous perfection. Eatbugs extended a paw and splayed his toes out into a decadent stretch. Another sigh passed his lips and he squeezed his eyes shut with pleasure.
"Merry meet, Eatbugs." Beethoven barely suppressed a chuckle. "Still lounging about? Why the day is half done!"
"Merry meet." Eatbugs sat up and groomed his ruff into submission. "I was just...enjoying the sunshine."
"Indeed, I notice you've been enjoying it for hours."
Eatbugs' nose leather turned a deeper shade of pink. "Well, it IS a glorious day!"
Beethoven laughed and head-butted her friend. "Yes, it is, but I must pull you from your slumbers. I am on a mission most serious!" Beethoven adjusted her features into a solemn mask. "You are needed, sir."
"The Elders?" Eatbugs furrowed his brow in concentration. Had he forgotten some important task? He didn't remember being assigned any duties on the day.
"No, not the Elders.'' Beethoven's whiskers twitched and her eyes twinkled mischievously. "I am sent to find you, sir, and inform you in my 'mostest portant' voice that you are to pass near the tall grass. It seems the peepers have not had a story in 'justest bouts forsever'."
Eatbugs laughed. "Little Dots?"
"All of them, I'm afraid. You are bound to be besieged." Beethoven flicked her tail in the direction of the tall grass. "They've been amusing themselves playing at lords and ladies on the Great Quest, but they've about thee'd and thou'd themselves out."
"Besides," Beethoven continued, "frankly I think they've forgotten what their quest was. When last I heard, Pouncequick was insisting they were searching for the Great Kibblebowl of the Old Ones and Nikkie was adamant that they were hunting a dragon to slay."
"Then I mustn't disappoint them." Eatbugs cast a glance towards the high grass, where several small twitching tails foretold an ambush in the making. He cleared his throat and spoke a little louder. "Well, I'll consider it, but no I really must meet Max over by the willows." He winked at Beethoven. "Good morning to you, madam."
He turned and padded softly past the tall grass. He suppressed a grin when he heard "Nows!" being whispered enthusiastically and mustered his best surprised face as a slew of peepers landed on and around him.
"Stays! Sirs kidden!" Pouncequick pronounced this command with all four paws wrapped firmly around Eatbugs' tail. "Wes would has a story!"
"Yes, we wequire a story iffin you want passage through this woods." Nikkie pulled himself up to his full height (which, all things considered was not saying much).
"Whats woods?? I don't see no woods." Atomic Bob scratched his ears.
"Sheesh". Nikkie rolled his eyes.
"A story? Well, good sirs." Eatbugs noticed Tiny Bubbles lower lip trembling. "*And* madam." She danced her tail in delight. "I think I can spare a tale or two."
"We gonna cut off his tail????" Tiny Bubbles looked horrified.
"No, no, a story!"
"Well, come good minstwel and give us a tale." Nikkie settled into the grass.
Eatbugs waited for the peepers to disengage themselves from his person and settle quietly into the grass. "Let me see...a story. How about the story of how we kiddens got our tails?"
"Well, long, long ago, when the earth was young and the animals walked the earth alone...before the Creator gave us humans to love, cats had no tails..."
Tiny Bubbles gasped and clutched her fluffy plume to her chest.
Eatbugs smiled. "They didn't know that they should have them...you see no one had tails. The Creator of All Things looked down on the earth....and while she knew that it was good...."
Eatbugs stopped. He cocked his head and pursed his whiskers. He felt a slight tingling at the base of them, but not like anything he'd ever felt before. He tried to turn his attention back to the peepers, but the feeling grew stronger.
"Come Little One." Isolde approached so quietly Eatbugs started to hear her voice. "Come, you are needed."
Eatbugs nodded. He promised the peepers to finish their story later, then rose and padded softly beside his aunt. "Another comes? It doesn't feel...well...it doesn't feel right."
"Yes, Little One, another comes. It is as right as any passing can be. Come now, we need to make ready." Isolde turned and padded into the clearing of the Elders. The others already gathered, forming their Circle. Virginia gestured for the newcomers to take their places.
"Gather we here, our Creator." Virginia began the chant, slowly the Elders added their voices. "To ease the journey of one of our own."
Eatbugs looked up at Isolde. Now he understood. The One Who Comes was an Elder. The Song was different for Elders. The journey tinged with different emotions.
"Hear us you who formed the world and made us in your image." Virginia's voice lilted softly. "Lend us your strength, lend us your grace."
Boots stepped forward and raised his voice. He sang a song of comfort, sending his words drifting into the wind to the kidden waiting below. He sang of gentle breezes and golden, warm sunlight. He sang of the glorious Rainbow and before his words all fear melted away.
Gypsy stepped forward and lifted her voice into the wind. She sang a song of healing. Her words floated to the One Who Comes, easing his aching limbs and lifting his spirits.
Isolde stepped forward and lifted her voice into the song. She sang of companionship and love. She sang of long days in the sun, surrounded by the love of the Company. She sang of games of chasies and shared moments of quiet friendship. Her words drifted to the earth below washing over the waiting one like the stroke of a gentle hand.
Virginia gestured to Eatbugs. Shyly he stepped forward...the Elders' song swirled in the air around him. He lifted his chin and gathered his thoughts before joining his voice in the tapestry of sound wending its way to the earth. He sang of the Promise and the Creator's love. He sang of meetings yet to come and the immutable, eternal gift of love. In the last notes of the refrain, he felt the fragile bond below dissolve.
"It is time." Virginia bowed her head.
The breeze shifted gently and the Welcoming Song began its bittersweet refrain. The Song always pulled at Eatbugs' heart, but today its melody carried a special poignancy. It spoke of a long march of days in the sun, of a life full with the bond of love. It sang of the sorrow of parting. It sang of the Promise to come.
As the Song danced in the air around them, the Company came, as it had so many times before. Dino walked with Gina. Vito and Picnic came with Katze and Herbie. Spunky and Ebony walked with Beethoven and Pris. All the kiddens bound by the love of their owners came to welcome one more of their own. The peepers marched together, their tails held high and their faces masks of solemn dignity. Together they came and silently formed their circle before the Gate.
A pale blue light flickered across the Gate. In its wake sat a beautiful black tom. His fur glistened in the sunlight. Tentatively he took a step, then stopped and stared in disbelief. His legs were young and strong again, no stiffness measured his step, no aches to slow his pace.
Virginia nodded to the Elders, who stepped forward to welcome Pyewacket home. They touched noses and gave purring headbutts to their new friend.
When all the Company had offered their greetings, Isolde purred gently in Pyewacket's ear. "She'll be all right in time."
Pyewacket nodded. "But she is so lonely now. Our march together was so long, I can feel the hollow place in her heart now."
"Then come, we can help her fill it." Isolde led Pyewacket to the Rainbow's edge. The Company gathered around him, and gently began to purr.
Pyewacket looked down at the earth and felt the empty longing in the heart he held so dear. He pursed his whiskers and lifted his voice to the wind. "Mom? Mom, can you hear me? I am home now. I am whole. My eyes are bright again; my legs are strong. It isn't forever, Mom. I am here. I am waiting."
He closed his eyes and listened with his heart until he heard the flicker in the wind. She had heard. She knew. He purred his deepest purr and sent with all his heart his memories of his march in the sun. He sent the joy of her hand stroking his fur. He sent her the quiet comfort of their evenings lounging together. He sent her the laughter she'd known at his peeperhood antics and the quiet moments of his twilight years. He purred out all the years, spinning his memories down to the heart below. "Hold them, Mom. Carry them in your heart, and I am with you always. I am never far. I am here...and I wait."
With that, he turned and entered his new home.
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