Story I Wrote - Warning: Heavy Schmaltz

Discussion in 'Off-Topic & Chit Chat' started by threenorns, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. threenorns Well-Known Member

    someone posted on facebook a Rainbow Bridge story about an old, neglected dog that did not regain his youthful glory and was not allowed to cross the Bridge because he didn't have a human who loved him. so he languishes in a field set apart from the other animals until a shining, wonderful rescuer came traipsing across the horizon in a golden haze to take the decrepit old beast across out of the goodness of his/her heart.

    well, i thought that was utter crap - so i did my own version. opinions and constructive criticism welcome:

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    His entire body ached so. Lying on the cold, damp concrete floor, his dry nose pressed into the corner of brick walls in an attempt to escape the relentless cacophony and overwhelming stink of dozens of frightened, frantic dogs, he shook uncontrollably as pain wracked his body. Every so often, the metal door would open and someone would come in and rush through something – put down food, take away the food he couldn't eat, clean up his mess. They were kind people but they were always in a hurry, always in a rush. Nobody took a few minutes to just settle down and be with him.

    Nobody.

    The pain grew worse until he couldn't prevent the agonized keening from escaping his clenched teeth. Suddenly, with a last burst of bright white agony, it all stopped and he was blissfully free. He lay there, confused, afraid to move in case it started again. Gradually, he realized something else: the clamour of frightened animals trapped behind walls of stone and steel was gone, replaced by the distant sound of happy play. The stench of sickness, fright, and death was now the scent of trees; flowers; lush, green grass; and sparkling clean water. Cautiously, he raised his head, amazed to discover it was no longer stiff and spasming but was as smooth and supple as when he was young.

    The walls were gone. He was laying on a path, the dirt warm and soothing underneath. He leapt to his feet, confused but not frightened for his nose told him there was nothing here to fear, and looked around to see what he had smelled: majestic, soaring trees; expansive patches of glorious flowers, tended to by droning hordes of honey bees; and, far off, a mighty structure, glowing and beckoning. The path led directly toward it and he concluded logically that he should walk along the path.

    As he progressed down the path, he noticed his joints were no longer locked and scarred. His tail, restored to a glorious plume, rose from its customary tuck to bob and sway gently with the movement of his newly limber hips. His fur had reappeared, glossy and lush, and his skin no longer looked and felt like dried, cracked leather. His cold, wet nose quivered delicately as it sent a flood of information to his brain, which processed it nimbly, and his eyes could see forever.

    He stopped... There were humans ahead! He cringed, backed away, and paced agitatedly from side to side, licking nervously with his head low, his ears flat, and his tail curled up tight under his stomach. The dirt of the path absorbed the urine that escaped his control. The humans remained still, looking down dully at the ground. They knelt on either side of the path, far enough back that they could not reach out and touch him. They didn't move. Their entire attitude was one of despair.

    After a very long time, the dog worked up the nerve to cautiously slink along the path between them, nervously rolling his white-rimmed eyes in either direction. They didn't move, didn't speak, but the despair on their faces grew as he passed them by and their shoulders slumped a little lower.

    He continued on the path and encountered more humans, all the same way – dirty, ragged, and forlorn – until he reached an expansive meadow where all manner of animals romped and played. Nobody was afraid. Nobody was ill. All were at the height of health and vigour, no matter their age. Gleefully, he raced to join them in playing tag, King of the Mountain, touch-me-not, and wrestling, careful not to trample mothers nursing their young. He played with dogs, with cats, even with birds and bunnies. There was no fear between species for all were provided for and all were safe.

    He was playing with a tiny golden retriever puppy when suddenly, all the animals stopped and looked toward the path. A human was walking down the path and the old dog cringed until his belly was flat on the ground. None of the other animals were afraid, however, and suddenly the puppy he was playing with let out an ear-piercing yap and began racing across the turf to the human, who dropped to his knees and scooped the puppy up with a cry of joy.

    “Bowser!!!! You're here!!!!” and as tears and kisses rained down on the puppy's head, the old man grew young and strong again. The puppy wiggled sharply and the man set him down gently. Together, they walked to the mighty structure. There was a shimmer as they stepped onto it and, just like that, they vanished.

    The other animals watched until they disappeared, then resumed their play.

    This happened again and again, some humans being greeted by a single animal, some by more, all to disappear on the bridge until the dog could contain his curiosity no longer: he had to see what was on the other side!

    Slowly, cautiously, he walked up to the bridge – but could not set foot on it. No matter how he tried, it was always a step ahead of him. Dispirited, he turned away to see a large red dog regarding him with old, wise eyes in his young face.

    “You can't cross over if you have no human,” the dog said. “The Bridge runs on love. If you have no love, it is inaccessible.”

    “I never had a human,” the old dog replied. “I was the last of my litter and one day I was put in a box and when I got out, I was in a strange place without my mother, without anybody. I tried to find my mother but I was lost. I asked for help, but nobody would help me – they threw things at me, kicked me, and shouted at me. Why should I love them, if they didn't love me?” And he turned away.

    Time passed and then the desire to cross the Bridge grew in him again. He had to know what was on the other side! He was sure it was something amazing, if animals were so willing to leave this lovely place.


  2. threenorns Well-Known Member

    Once again, he could not set foot on the Bridge.

    Once again, he turned to find the big red dog with the old, old eyes.

    “Those humans I saw on the path when I first came here – why are they not crossing over?” he asked.

    “Those are the ones who, through ignorance and self-absorption, abandoned and neglected animals. Instead of obeying God's commandment to be stewards of the earth, they acted selfishly and without care for the needs of those who were vulnerable in their charge. They must stay there until an animal grants forgiveness.”

    “So after a life spent being beaten, kicked, and left to suffer, I'm supposed to forgive?” asked the old dog incredulously. Once again, he turned away.

    More time passed. So much so, that nearly all the animals that had been there when he started were gone, crossed over the Bridge with their humans. He missed his friends and the desire to cross the Bridge had returned, this time to an almost frightening intensity.

    “Before you pass judgement on them, perhaps you should hear their stories,” the big red dog said.

    The old dog walked back along the path until he encountered a human kneeling behind the path. He looked at him and saw not a frightening demon, but a rather pathetic example of an animal. The human had no fur, feathers, or scales to protect him from the elements. No claws or fangs to defend against predators. He walked on two feet, making him prone to trip and fall. His hearing was nowhere near as keen as the dog's and his eyes saw far less than the cat's. As for his nose, well! If his nose was anywhere near adequate, surely the humans wouldn't drown themselves in toxic clouds of stink every day!

    The human kept his eyes lowered and didn't speak.

    “Why are you here?” the dog finally asked.

    “I had a cat,” the human replied. “She was always getting into my stuff and destroying it, so I barred her from the house. Then she started destroying my window and door screens and digging up around the house, so I took her to a farm and left her there. “

    “You dumped her,” the dog summarized.

    “No, it wasn't like that! I took her to a farm – there were lots of other cats, a barn she could catch mice in, and besides, farms always need cats.”

    “You took her to a place where cats had already established their territories leaving her with no choice but to fight after a lifetime of living alone in a home. How is she to fight? You took her to a place where she would have to hunt and catch her food after a lifetime of being served from a can. How is she to eat? Did you ask the farmer if he even needed another cat?” The human closed his eyes, shook his head, and started to cry.

    “I didn't know! I didn't think it was like that! And now I'm trapped here on a road going nowhere – I walked and walked and walked and it's just a long road with nothing but emptiness everywhere around! And I deserve all of it!” The dog regarded him quizzically.

    “Can you not see the grass? Can you not hear the trees? Can you not smell the flowers?” Amazement dawned on the human's face.

    “I can! I can see the grass! It's wonderful! The trees – they're so tall they look like they can touch the stars! And the flowers – oh, what a glorious scent!”

    When the dog proceeded up the road, the human rose and followed him.

    The next human was a woman, hair hanging in lank ropes around her face, kneeling in the same dispirited attitude.

    “Why are you here?” asked the old dog.

    “I had a dog – I didn't want him. He was my ex-boyfriend's dog and when we broke up, I got stuck with him,” she said bitterly. “I had two kids and a baby – I couldn't take any chances, so I tied the dog in the back yard and one day, he was just dead. I don't know what happened.”

    “You abandoned your dog to a life in exile and gave him so little regard that you didn't even notice when he fell deathly ill,” the dog summarized.

    “It wasn't like that!” she protested. “I had three kids! I had a full time job! I had a house to keep clean – I didn't need a big animal messing up the place and he was noisy and rough! He could have hurt my kids! I made sure he had food and shelter!”

    “You built him a prison where he stayed, with no one to talk to, no one to play with, no one to comfort him when he was scared or lonely, and no explanation as to what he'd done that deserved such punishment. A prison that kept him cold on winter nights and sweltering under the summer sun. A prison where every day he had to endure the sight of people walking by with their dogs, dogs enjoying freedom in the company of a family that loved them.” The woman started to cry.

    “I didn't know!” she sobbed into her hands. “And now I am trapped on this road going nowhere and it's so hot and dry in the day and so cold and empty at night! And you're right – I deserve it.”

    “Can you not feel the cool breeze? Can you not smell the water? Can you not see the clouds?” asked the old dog, and saw wonder dawn on the woman's face.

    “I can! I can see them!” she cried out, and when the old dog walked on, she followed him.

    The dog stopped at each human and heard their stories – stories of people too self-absorbed or overwhelmed or just too ignorant to understand the disastrous consequences of their actions or inactions – and with each story, the crowd following the dog grew larger until finally he reached the last human.

    “I was seven years old,” the human said softly. “I had a kitten. I was playing too rough and I frightened her. She bit me and, in anger, I threw her against the wall. She died.” The old dog bowed his head.

    “You killed the animal that looked to you for care and security,” the old dog said.

    “Yes,” the human replied simply. “And now I must stay here, forever barred to the lovely scenery I see all around for I do not deserve any of it.”

    “You were a child,” the old dog replied. “You reacted out of a child's ignorance, not an adult's willfulness. You shouldn't have been left unsupervised with a fragile baby. The act is yours, but the sin is not.” The human began to cry.

    “I do not deserve your forgiveness.”

    “It is not up to me to forgive you. You must forgive yourself. When that day comes, go to the meadow.” When the old dog turned back, the human did not follow.

    The old dog, followed by his retinue, made his way back along the path. Prepared for a long walk, he was amazed to find that he was suddenly right at the foot of the Bridge. Soft cries of wonder rose up behind him as the humans exclaimed at the beauty of the structure, glowing in all colours of the spectrum. The big red dog with the old, old eyes was waiting for him. The humans behind knelt before the sight of a glorious angel with golden wings reaching ten feet high. The old dog raised a paw, hesitantly set it forward, then set it firmly on the Bridge. One step, two steps, and at last he was there! But he hesitated and looked back.

    “What about the human who wouldn't come?” he asked.

    “You cannot help him. Nobody can help him until he forgives himself,” the big red dog replied. “Go, now. Find peace.”

    Guiding the crowd of joyous humans, the old dog crossed the Bridge.

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