This is for Maria Kelly (@mkelly317 on Twitter) and Missy and me and my Doodlebug. One day … To read Maria’s story: “Is There A Balm?” go to http://wp.me/p1dnHh-6b
Doodlebug waited patiently on the warm wood of the bridge. He scratched at his ear desultorily and yawned. Glancing over the bridge he caught his reflection in the water below and took brief inventory. Marmalade tabby, check. Golden eyes, check. Small black spot on my nose — now just a minute! He flicked his ears in annoyance and wiped at it with one paw in a futile effort. His person had been amused by the dot, but he didn’t find it the least bit funny. Hmph. I thought things were supposed to be better on this side of the Bridge —
His grumbles were interrupted by the pad of feline paws approaching, and he rose, stretching with great pleasure. A female, mostly white, but with variegated patterns that marked her as a calico, approached him. “Where am I?”
“You’re Missy, right?”
She bumped against him in a gesture of feline assent.
“Well, this is the Bridge. Perhaps you’ve heard it mentioned?”
She lifted her head and looked around. “THIS is the bridge?”
Doodlebug cocked his head, amused. “You were expecting the Golden Gate?”
“No, it’s just — I thought there’d be more animals here.”
“Oh, there’s plenty. But we don’t hang around the Bridge — there’s too much for us to do. You’re only here when you cross over, and once again when your person comes along.”
“Oh.” Missy was ashamed at the depth of her loss. She wasn’t struggling any more, that was true. But she missed her person. She stopped and licked a paw and groomed herself, hoping that her companion wouldn’t notice her sadness.
He bumped against her and purred gently. “Don’t be embarrassed. We’re supposed to miss them, you know. That’s why you’re here.”
“Is there somewhere else to go?” Her back fur ruffled in fear.
“Well, some animals are so damaged they can’t be made right again. They just … go away. Cease to exist. It’s kinder to them.”
She looked up again. He bumped noses with her once, softly. “Come on. There’ll be time to heal your heart and catnip to nibble on and – well, anything you can think of that’s good and proper for a cat.”
Missy started to follow him, and then glanced back at the Bridge. “And then one day?”
“Yes, one day … “ Doodlebug understood. They all did. Every animal who came over the Bridge waited for the day when the Shepherd came and brought them back to meet that one person … the one special human they loved. “One day.”
They turned and walked from the Bridge together, purring, tails entwined.