In memory of Rufus Clark
Safe journey across the Rainbow Bridge, little friend!
Rufus, the Shih Tzu puppy, was bored. It was a sun-shiney day out, but no one had time to go into the yard to play. Auntie Char-Char was at the grocery store, Auntie Claude was doing the laundry, cousin Keith was working on his computer, and Mommy was busy cleaning and dusting the ritual room.
He squeaked a few purple snakes and flung a couple of rubber kitties in the air, but nobody came to tug the other end or play catch. He tried digging under the bedroom rug and rolling around underneath, but Mommy just shooed him away, saying he was underfoot. No, there was nothing to do, and the minutes felt like hours. With a heavy sigh, he shuffled off, with head and tail drooping low, to go sleep on his meditation mat in the corner of the ritual area. At least, he figured, he’d be in the same room as Mommy and she might spare a moment to pat his belly or scratch him under his chin. However, as he circled round, kneaded the cotton filled mat into a soft ball, and lay down with a sigh, Mommy didn’t even seem to notice. She was busy with her head stuck in the herb cabinet, dusting and sorting and rearranging the dark amber bottles.
At one point, she reached behind her, without turning, and deposited on the floor the prettiest box Rufus had ever seen. It was long and slender, made of wood, and painted in beautiful jewel tones. It seemed to shimmer in the afternoon light. There were pictures on the sides of winged goddesses and green men, and on the top of the lid, a pentagram in gold. Rufus had never seen this before. From his place in the corner, an aroma seemed to reach out across the room and tease his now twitching nose. What WAS that scent? Was it something special? Was this magic box hiding some special treat? Mommy usually left him little gifts and goodies on the floor… was this a little something for him?
As quietly as he could, Rufus got up and approached the box. The closer he got, the better it smelled! Ever so carefully, he took his paw and moved the colorful lid open on its brass hinges. Inside was a variety of small, cone shaped objects. Each one had a different smell, some spicy, some flowery, some like vanilla and honey too! These HAD to be treats for him!
With hungry speed, he quickly gobbled them up, barely tasting the first few bites. The treats didn’t really taste the way they smelled, but neither did many of the treats made for puppies. In less than two minutes he finished them all, and went to lie back down on his mat with a full and contented stomach.
But that’s not quite how the afternoon went.
About ten minutes later, around the time Rufus started to feel a gurgling and a churning in his tummy, Mommy turned around and noticed the empty incense box. She was up on her feet in alarm at about the same time Rufus felt a terrible need to gag, and all those half chewed treats of multiple colors ended up in a rainbow puddle on the ritual room floor.
He felt horrible and, what was worse, the look on Mommy’s face made him cower in fear of being scolded. All he wanted was a little attention, but not like this! Now he was sick, and miserable, and a little afraid. Then, Mommy’s eyes got a softer look, and a sad smile spread across her lips. She carefully placed the now empty box for the magical incense on the altar and fetched a clean rag from her dusting bag. She gently wiped Rufus’ whiskers and nose before cleaning up the mess on the floor.
She sat down crossed legged next to Rufus on his mat, and gently pulled him into her lap.
“That was both our faults,” she soothed, rubbing his ears and stroking the hair out of his eyes. “I should have been more careful, and you should have been less… well… careless!”
Rufus nestled into her arms, and burped.
Moral: Life is like magic, and not everything is as it appears. Be careful what you taste and ingest in haste, lest you be doomed to taste it again!
by Katharine Clark
Rufus by Robin Ator