In Loving Memory Of Tina-Saavik Blair

Written by Consta Jenkins

Reprinted by permission of the author

"Mr. Eatbugs?"

"Hmmm?"

"How come is it thats I ain't getting any biggers?"

Eatbugs looked at Little Dots solemn little face and chuckled kindly. "Well, Little Dots, you were a peeper when you came to the Bridge...so you'll always be a peeper."

Little Dots rubbed his nose with his paw paw. "You mean I ain't never ever gonna get big?"

"Well, no. Why?"

Little Dots sighed a mighty sigh. "That don't seem fair. You think if I got Nickie and Pounce to pull on my paw paws I might get bigger??" He looked so hopeful Eatbugs had to bite a whisker to keep from laughing out loud.

"Umm...I don't think so. What's wrong with being a peeper?"

"Ahh, nothing I guess. It's just that Miss Gypsy keeps sittin' on me and washin' my ears and calling me a baby...and Miss Pris keeps making me take a nap justest when all the fun stuff is happening and Miss Putt Putt calls me 'the cutest LITTLE thing'. Grown ups have all the fun! It's not fair!"

"But Little Dots, if you got big, how would your Mom recognize you?"

"Huh?"

"When the Promise comes true, how would your mom find you? I mean in her heart you will always be the little peeper that she loved."

"Well....." Little Dots eyes brightened at the mention of his Mom.

"And peepers have lots of fun. Like getting dog dog rides and putting on circuses and piggy back rides..."

"Piggy back rides?" Little Dots face lit up and his tail twitched with glee. "Will ya Uncle Eatbugs ..huh...please????"

Eatbugs looked at the expectant little peeper and smiled. "Oh all right. Come on." He knelt for Little Dots to climb on board and then trotted gingerly around the field. He flicked his tail in greeting to Creamsickle and Picnic as he passed.

The two kiddens looked at Eatbugs and then at each other--then burst into laughter.

"Betcha ten kibbles he got it," said Creamsickle.

"No bet. The question is was it the 'grown ups have all the fun' line or the 'no one wants to play with me' one that did it." Picnic laughed.

"My kibble is on the 'grown ups'. How many rides you reckon he's had today?" asked Creamsickle.

"I'd reckon that makes five. Got me first thing this morning, and I saw him on Rocky and AJ after breakfast."

"He got me just before my nap!"

Picnic shook his head and roared with laughter. "Think we oughta tell Eatbugs?"

"Nah...why spoil the kid's fun?"

Meanwhile, Eatbugs trotted around the field with the picture of peeper innocence cheering gleefullly on his back.

As they turned the corner by the willow tree, Eatbugs slowed to a halt. "Okay, Little Dots," he panted, "that's enough for one day."

Little Dots scrambled down and threw his paws around Eatbugs' neck. "Thank you Unca Eatbugs. That was the mostest fun ride of them all... oops."

"Of them all? How many rides have you had?"

"Ummm...." Little Dots fidgeted with his tail. "Ummm..."

Eatbugs opened his mouth to speak, then closed it. He felt it...deep in the pads of his whiskers--that tingling that told him another would come. Eatbugs bowed his head. He felt the quiet shift in the music of the wind, turning it's bell like voice to the Welcome.

"What's the matter, Unca Eatbugs?" Little Dots' face was a mask of concern.

"Another comes," whispered Eatbugs, "Come, let us join the Welcome."

Little Dots clambored back on to the larger kidden's back. There was no cheering now. His little face was solemn and the two traveled in silence.

Once more the Company of Kiddens gathered to welcome one of their own. Mister and Feather walked with Onion, still learning her way around her new home. Dino and Beethoven walked with Boots and Grace. In pairs they came, in threes and fours, these kiddens forged into a family by the bond of shared love.

As they reached the Gate, Dusty-kidden, Pitty Pat and Charlie Brown moved to the center of the Circle and bowed their heads. They raised their purrs to the Wind, joining their voices to the bittersweet strains of the Welcoming Song. The Company of Kiddens lifted their purrs, too, until the air over the Bridge echoed with the sound of love. Gentle, comforting words floated to the Earth below. "Be at peace." "All is well." "Come home."

"Unca Eatbugs?" Little Dots whispered.

"Yes?"

"Why come is the Song so sad? It's not sad to be here."

Eatbugs considered his young friend for a moment. The sadness of his passing had long since faded from his memory. His thoughts of home now were of warmth and love--the healing of the Bridge had done its work long since. "Well, Dots, it is sad in a way. Our humans don't understand, at least not like we do, about the Great Promise--and they get awfully sad. In time, they know in their hearts that the goodbye is not forever, but for now it hurts a lot. That's why we purr comfort, so both kidden and human will remember that love lasts forever."

"Unca Eatbugs?"

"Yes?"

"Would it help if I tolds his human that I'd let her kidden have my favoritests ever sleepy spot?" Little Dots face was so somber and sincere that Eatbugs leaned over and gave him an earlick.

"Yes, Little Dots, I'm sure it would."

Little Dots screwed up his face in concentration and purred for all he was worth.

Dusty kidden lifted his head and said, "It is time." The flash of blue light danced across the Gate and in its wake sat a beautiful grey-brown tabby. Her fur was sleek and shiny, her eyes bright. She took a hestitant step and each kidden of the Company's heart tugged a little as they recognized and remembered the feeling. Discovery...of legs that were strong once more and joints no longer pained.

Tina-Saavik looked around at the Company of Kiddens and sighed. Dusty-kidden, Pitty Pat and Charlie Brown all ran to her, licking her face and head-butting her gently.

"Welcome home," said Dusty.

Tina Saavik looked back toward the Earth and sighed once more. "Mom is so sad again," she said.

"She'll understand," said Pitty Pat, "when time has worked its healing."

The Company of Kiddens came forward, offering their noses in greeting and promising to play hockey, chasies and all manner of entertainments when Tina Saavik was ready to join them. She smiled at the warm, friendly faces.

Slowly the Company disassembled, kiddens drifting off in pairs. Tina Saavik felt the cares of the world drifting away from her and understood that she was home. She looked back over the Earth once more. As she stood gazing a life now past, she felt a tugging at her fur. A little spotted peeper stood pulling urgently at her elbow. "Yes?"

"I gots to show you my sleepy spot. Come on. I promised!"

Tina Saavik smiled at his determined little face. "Just one moment, there's something I must do." She pursed her whiskers in concentration then opened her heart and turned her love home. "Mom? Thank you, Mom. It was time. I am whole now. I love you. I will wait."

When she felt her message drift away on the wind, she turned to the peeper. "Now what was that about sleepy spots?"

He grabbed her paw and trotted back towards the Rainbow Fields. "It's the bestest mostest wonderful sleepy spot on the WHOLE Bridge and you can use it whenever you wants to...."

And with that he led her home.

© Copyright 1996 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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