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Love Tethers
Rainbow Bridge Tribute

Rainbow Bridge

Love Tethers

by Carol M Chapman

Sometimes we have to say goodbye in order to be able to say hello.   Rain poured over the huddled mound.  Cold dimmed eyes, sunk into a skeletal frame articulated by will alone, stared out at the garbage surrounding it.  An anemic tongue lapped lethargically at the puddles beside her head.  The frayed rope welded into her neck by caked over wounds ended abruptly with a bloodstained fringe bearing mute testimony to her desperate chewing of it for release.  The big dark had come and gone more times than she had toes as she waited for "He who hurts me" to return and free her.  She stared out through the hole in the fence at the passing traffic, sighed, and drifted downward toward the final sleep.

As dusk muted the sunset, the icy rain faded over into deceptively gentle snow.  The little dog was too cold to melt the flakes that began to slowly blanket her curled form.  Her mind drifted into dreams as her small paws paddled the snow around her, stirring small flurries that caught the fading light in crystalline refractions of color.  The cold air regained gentle warmth as her breath puffed in and out depleting her small frame of its last reservoirs of strength.

A man dragged his frame down the sidewalk, head bowed, and feet snowplowing the concrete.  John pulled his coat closer around him; Chicago was facing the start of the killing season.  The Chinese have the right idea using white as a mourning color, he thought.  Nothing survives the bitterness of snow except pain and loss.  John was heading home to a stark and barren house, no dog to greet him; only the sharp remembered anguish of an elderly basset hound that had gone to the Rainbow Bridge awaited him there.  Heidi, his friend, companion, bearer of his heart, had gone on without him.  He bowed his head and whispered "Dear one, I hope you felt my arms around you.  I tried so hard to let you know my love of you, to hold you with me one more day.  You left without saying goodbye, you left without taking me with you".   Tears trailed the valleys of his cheek as he bowed his head and trudged on through the whiteness closing the world around him. 

A rainbow coalesced on the inner lids of the little dog's eyes and she felt dancing, shifting, beams of radiant warm surrounding her.  "The Rainbow Bridge has come for me",  she shivered in anticipation and opened her eyes to face it bravely as her mother had told her to.  Lying beside her, sheltering her from the snow, sharing heat, was a basset hound.  Rainbows flickered in the kind basset's eyes and she nosed a hollow around the little dog's face clearing a place to breath through.  The little dog stretched, appreciating the thawing of her heart and body provided by the basset.  She stirred, and peered around the basset hound, looking for the bridge the other carried in her eyes.  There it was, shimmering in the faint footprints that stretched from the fence to her small form.  She tugged fretfully at the binding rope, waiting for the release to  come.  The basset gently pressed her back down, and wrapped her form around the little dog whispering, "Wait a bit, little one".

John froze, a wordless sound filtered through him.  "Heidi, oh dear me, now I hear her voice in the storm".  His eyes gazed up and down the street, seeing nothing, hearing everything.  As he started to move forward, the sound came again, a lost lonely howl of despair.   The storm was gathering near, starting to mark its prey with frigid fingers.  Parallel to the broken fence, he paused and looked down in puzzlement.  A rainbow danced around large paw prints marking a gap in the fence and beyond leading into the dusk.

The little dog eased her form against the basset and timidly asked, "Who are you?"  Rainbows poured from the basset as she answered the wee one.  "I am a well loved dog, passed over too soon.  Love chains me here, will not yet release me to cross the Bridge.  See the radiance of his love, feel the heat of his anguish.  He cannot yet hear me, but he will.  I need to let him know I loved him too, then his spirit can rest and I can go on.  Rest little one, help is coming."  The basset looked toward the fence and the fierceness of her love caught the very air with fire, calling the man to her.

John stumbled with the sharp weight of emotion.  An aurora borealis appeared, waltzing between the fence and the fierce bright eyes of a basset hound in the yard beyond.  The dog opened her mouth and called him with the imperious sound Heidi had always made when she needed him to come now.  His face reflecting the trailing ends of color, John forced himself through the gap and staggered across the vacant lot toward the waiting basset.  Her tail thumped gently as he approached.  A sudden wind whipped the snow around him, blinding him.  He felt a loving tongue, a warm side pressed against his thigh; a head pushed gently into his hand and then was gone.

The wind moved on, the snow settled, miraculously leaving the small dog's form exposed to view.  John leaned over and gently
touched her, undid the cruel tether and pulled her into his arms.  Faintly lingering rainbows wrapped them both in warmth.  "Sally, her name is Sally", whispered a voice within his inner ear.  Looking around in puzzlement, he hurried home with his precious burden unaware of the rainbow paw prints that followed him.  As he nursed the small morsel and tenderly called her by name a basset hound outside sighed with contentment and moved across the Bridge.



by Carol M Chapman


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