Lighthouse: Magic

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Santi sat before the platter of veggie burgers I’d grilled up at Rachel’s.

“Why doesn’t she eat?” I asked Rachel.

Yo paya, yo jisu. ‘No sing, no eat.’ She thinks she needs to play for her supper.”

“But you’ve explained that’s no longer the case?” I asked.

“Only a million times!” laughed Rachel. “When she’s hungry enough, when no one’s looking, she’ll sneak a bite.”

I thought I’d try to convince her she could eat without performing.

“You’re not a servant anymore, Santi,” I explained. She looked at me as if she comprehended.

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“You’re free! Doxni! You’re safe! Sanghi!”

Yo doxni, yo sanghi,” she said, very quietly. “Squeegee. Payazi?”

“All right! Sing!” I replied. “Then we’ll feast on veggie burgers!”

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She sang very softly, with her mouth barely open, and I couldn’t tell if she sang in words or simply sounds and syllables, and slowly I felt a channel of energy, or maybe it was light–in particle and wave–flowing down from the sky, entering my body through the crown, and coursing through me.

“What is this?” I asked her. I had never felt music enter me so fully.

Ontsi molsuravensiku,” she said. Made of love. No wonder her music was considered subversive.

After Santi finished eating, I was ready to head back to the cabin. I figured, if we walked quickly and didn’t get lost, we’d get back before dark.

But Rachel wouldn’t hear of it.

“You have to stay here tonight,” she said. “And for as long as it takes. You cannot leave with the child until you’ve bonded. It’s not safe otherwise. She needs that to be able to travel with you.”

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I resisted. Frankly, I was afraid to bond with this strange, magical child. I had already started to fall in love with her, and I feared that if we truly bonded, I wouldn’t be able to separate with her when Ritu found her a permanent home.

But Rachel convinced me that this child needed connection, if she was going to go with me. She’d be lost otherwise, and I had the impression that Rachel did not mean this metaphorically.

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I didn’t know what to say to her that first night. My Vingihoplo was so poor that I wasn’t able to express much, and she hadn’t yet learned any of our language. So, instead, I simply talked, without worrying whether she understood or not. I told her all about Sept, about the crash, about brave Situ who rescued the 144 pagotogo, about Sebastion, Octy, Mop, and the new baby. I told her about meeting Sept and falling in love and pledging ourselves to each other. I told her about how, now, his cause was my cause, and how I would do anything for him, his family, and Xirra.

She brightened when she heard Xirra’s name. “MoXirra!” she said, meaning that she loved her like a mother.

“MoSanti,” I said, for by then, I loved this child.

Rachel wanted us to stay another day, but I felt it imperative that we get home before the weekend. The Anti-Alien Coalition had posted on social media that they were planning protests that weekend, and I wanted us to be safe at home before they started.

The next morning, we left for the cabin. Rachel had packed us a lunch and snacks, and that turned out to be a good thing, for walking with a small child went much more slowly than walking alone.

We arrived after sunset.

Santi was so tired she fell asleep on the sofa while I fixed soup and sandwiches for supper.

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She ate without singing this time, looking at me with a conspiratorial smile. I took this as a sign that she was beginning to trust me, that she identified me as something other than her mistress or owner.

“You can take off your disguise when you’re inside,” I told her.

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She didn’t understand.

“The second skin?” I said. “Refijotu pi?”

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I mimed pealing off my skin.

“Show your real self, if you want,” I said. “Yada baska.”

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She looked at me a long time. Something about her eyes melted me. She looked like she had seen so much, horrors and joys and terrors and beauty and wonder. She looked like she had lost and gained and lost again.

Sanghi,” I said. “MoSanti.”

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Wa!” she shouted. “Baska! Sanghi!

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Then she stepped out of her disguise-skin.

She was moon blue, like Sept, with ears like his.

Falazi Mallory,” she said.

“I know you, too,” I said.

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“We have a big trip tomorrow,” I told her. “You’ll wear your disguise, refijotu pi, when we travel, OK? But then once we get home, you don’t need it anymore.”

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Gotukoda mokiya?” she asked.

I remembered that gotukoda meant “home,” but I’d forgotten what mokiya meant.

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She showed me. She closed her eyes, and I closed mine, and then she sang, and waves of happy love tickled me until I laughed, and when she sang, it felt just like home.

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Wa,” I said. “Gotukoda mokiya. Our home is happy.”

We were sleepy. I tucked her into bed, singing her a song my grandmother used to sing me, “Mares-eat-oats, and does-eat-oats, and little-lambs-eat-ivy, a kid’ll-eat-ivy, too, wouldn’t you?”

She sang back, first simply, “Marezeedotes, and dozeedotes, and liddlelamzeedivy, a kiddleetdivytoo, woodnyoo!”

Then, in a sleepy, happy voice, she began improvising on the tune and the lyrics, and by the time she fell asleep, still softly singing, “dunyoo,” she had invented something worthy of Bach.

I woke in the middle of the night. Her bed was empty.

My heart raced into my throat, and I ran outside. There at the edge of the forest, having remembered to slide back into her second skin, she stood before three colored lights.

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I can’t tell you what they were. They weren’t insects. It wasn’t phosphorescence. It wasn’t some optical trick.

Maybe they were fairies.

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All I know is that the magic in this world was drawn to this magical girl.

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Lighthouse: Too Early Spring

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I had some trouble finding my way in the back country, in spite of my self-professed talent with topographical maps.

I had to follow deer trails up there, generally not a problem, but I hadn’t counted on them criss-crossing quite so much.

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When the ranger had stopped by the night before, he’d warned me about this.

“I can take you up there myself,” he said, “but not until Saturday. Can’t leave my post before then.”

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His connection with Ritu and the refugee program was personal, not professional, and he didn’t want to risk alerting anyone to the transfers that had been happening across federal property.

“I’m not sure I should wait that long,” I said. We’d heard reports of AAC riots planned for the weekend, so we wanted to be home well before then.

“All right,” he said. “Just use common sense, then. Don’t get hurt. Don’t get injured.”

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I gained confidence when I spotted Finger Rock. Below it was a crevice through the granite, and if I could climb through it, I’d come out in the high meadow where Ritu’s friend lived, just beyond the national park border.

This was the first winterless year we had. It was February, and already, what little snow had fallen in late December and early January had melted from all but the highest peaks. Bird song broadcast an early breeding season, and wildflowers bloomed two months too early.

In spite of my better wisdom, I got caught up in the excitement of early spring—-the sun, the songs, the blooms, the whispers of warmth, it was hard not to feel alive and vibrant, though I knew that this disruption of normal patterns signaled nothing good to come, even for those very chickadees and warblers now celebrating spring.

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The significance hit me when I arrived in the high country to see the shrubs already in leaf.

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A tidy cabin with a well-cared-for alpine garden stood at the far end of the meadow, across from the sign marking the park border.

This was where Ritu’s friend lived. This was where I’d meet the refugee.

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There was no one home.

Tired from the trek, I lay down in the meadow, near the cabin. I’d hear them when they came back.

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A peregrine flew overhead. It was early for them to be in their high country range.

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I heard a child’s laughter. When I looked, there stood a little girl, who looked like a fairy dressed for a camping trip. She must be the daughter of Ritu’s friend, I figured. She ran off through the meadow and behind the trees before I could ask her where her mother was.

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I walked until I came to a circle of boulders enclosing a mountain herb garden. Tending the wild mustard was an older woman, dressed in well-patched clothes. This was Rachel.

Sometimes you can tell when you first see someone that they will become your friend. That’s how I felt with Rachel.

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I didn’t even have to explain myself. She knew who I was and why I’d come. Ritu had left word once Sept and I made our plans.

“They usually don’t stay,” she said, “when they’re arrive here. This is a good landing place, you see. No one to notice the distant lights, no one to see them being dropped off, except maybe the back country ranger, but then, he’s one of us, isn’t he?”

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Rachel had helped about half a dozen refugees by that point. Usually, she kept them for a few days, long enough to acclimatize to the atmosphere, to help them adjust their disguises, to brush up on their language skills, and to review a few safety points and cultural conventions. Then, she walked them back to the park to where the ranger met them, and he arranged their transport back to one of Ritu’s pick-ups.

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“But this one’s different,” she said. “This one needs a special touch.”

The little fairy girl joined us. I decided she must be Rachel’s granddaughter or great niece, not child, after all.

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Rachel turned to her and began speaking Vingihoplo. I caught the word gotukoda, home, and sanghi, safe.

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“This is Santi,” Rachel said, and I understood then why this refugee could not travel alone.

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Sintuliyu dastaliyu!” Santi said, using the traditional rebel greeting: peaceful day.

Sintu!” I said back.

The concept of sintu doesn’t directly translate to what we think of as “peace.” If peace were active–the making of peace, the partaking of peace, peace as the condition for life and energy and harmony, then it would come closer. I thought of the old hippie Super 8 films I’d seen shot at peace rallies, with “Peace,” as a greeting, shouted like a call to action. That was closer to what sintu expressed.

Santi raced off again.

“She’s happy here,” Rachel said, “but she knows she can’t stay.”

We walked slowly back to Rachel’s cabin.

“What do you know of the girl?” she asked.

I admitted I knew nothing, only that she needed safe escort to a sanctuary. We didn’t know then where she was headed, only that we’d bring her to our home, and from there, Ritu and Xirra could arrange for her to get to where she’d be staying.

“Do you know why she’s here?” Rachel asked. “Why she had to leave?”

I repeated that I knew nothing about her.

“She was a minstrel–in the medieval sense, not the Vaudeville sense–a court musician. She’s a clone of a type of extra-terrestrial that’s almost preternaturally talented at music, and she was created to provide a form of living entertainment for the elite.”

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“Was she treated alright?” I asked.

“Oh, yes!” said Rachel. “Like one would treat a high-tech stereo. A valuable piece of property.”

“She had no freedom, then?” I asked.

“She was bizoo,” said Rachel. “You know what that means to the Mainstreamers, don’t you?”

I know now. Most of my life has been spent in the cause of bringing freedom to bizoobi, and I’ve heard more stories than I’ve let myself remember. But at the time, though Sept had told me what fate would have awaited him if Situ hadn’t taken action, I hadn’t yet integrated what I’d heard with my construct of reality.

“She was found to be dangerous,” Rachel said, “subversive. So she was scheduled to be decommissioned–slaughtered, with others no longer fit to serve.”

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“What is subversive about that little girl?” I asked.

“Her music.”

Santi had begun to play on a small white violin. The beauty of the violin is that it’s not inherently diatonic–it’s not bound to fixed tones or scales. Santi played music like I’d never heard before, dancing in between tones, sliding up and down pitch. The music followed its own sense and pattern, and as I listened it unwound feelings and emotions within me.

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“But it’s beautiful!” I said.

“Exactly,” said Rachel.

“It’s soulful.”

“Precisely,” Rachel replied. “And you know what Mainstreamers believe about bizoobi.”

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“That they have no soul,” I answered.

“Exactly,” said Rachel. “And so how could music like that come from a being without a soul?”

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Author’s note: Who is this child and what tribe does she come from? You’ll have to keep reading to find out more, but to catch all the harmonies, you might want to also be sure that you’re reading SuperKyle’s We Belong to the Song. Many thanks to Kyle for the Sim that Santi comes from and for the ideas that she embodies.

Lighthouse: Sparks of Dream

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I arrived with the moon rising over the valley. Early the next morning, I’d head up to the back country, where Santi waited with Ritu’s friend. At the mountain cabin, I had plenty of time to think.

I’d brought my journal to occupy the evening, and I let my thoughts return to Momo’s visit. Something in my awoke when I saw her with her family, and I itched to discover what it was.

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We’d been relaxing over late morning coffee while Elui scoured websites for anything that might lead him to David.

“Anything promising?” Sept asked Elui.

“Here’s some anti-Newcrest posts,” Elui said. “Might be something David would be interested in.”

We heard a knock at the door. An extra-terrestrial child, light-skinned, like Sept, stood on the porch.

“Sept?” I asked. “Are you expecting family?”

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The girl introduced herself as Alma Mori, Momo’s daughter.

“Are you Octy?” she asked Sept. “I thought he was little like me.”

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“He is about your size!” Sept said. “I’m his brother!”

She took us out to meet the rest of the family, and Momo explained they were delivering Octy’s new dog.

“We have so many dogs already!” said Alma. “Our dog had pups, and now they’re grown! And so we’re finding homes for them!”

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Momo said she wanted to talk with Sept and “the other one” before we took them to Seb and Octy’s.

She had a focused look, and I wondered if she was scanning Elui and Sept. Sept had never mentioned Momo to me, but I had the impression they knew each other, that she was one of the 144.

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“Momo!” he said, when he saw her.

“You remembered!” she said.

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“Of course!”

He told me later that she was one of the first ones to sing back. She’d been on the ship. The man who adopted her had other extra-terrestrial children. She had a good upbringing, Sept said, with so many siblings. “She was never lonely, like I was,” he said. “She was surrounded with big brothers and sisters.”

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I could see her supportive upbringing in the way she carried herself, with confident grace. She looked like never questioned if she belonged here.

I looked in on Elui.

“We have visitors!” I said.

“I know,” he replied.

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He greeted her with a complex series of hand gestures. Sept explained later it was a cultural greeting. They’d all been taught it as toddlers, as well as taught that it was only to be shared within their group, as a way of acknowledging connectedness.

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“I can’t believe I still remember that!” Momo said.

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“I’m glad you’re here,” Sept said.

“I am, too,” she replied. “I didn’t even think we’d meet you! I was going to tell Octy and your dad to be sure to give you a big hello. I never thought I’d be able to do it myself, in person.”

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Though this was the first time the three had been together since their adoption, they conversed and moved in that way that close friends and family do, with belonging.

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Elui filled Momo in on his current search for David and the leads he’d found, and she listened with all of her being. I was beginning to realize that extra-Ts, at least those like Sept, Momo, and Elui, hear on multiple levels, all the time.

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The subtle communication of thought, feeling, emotion, visualization, even bio-chemistry, are continuously broadcast and received when they are together.

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This redefines privacy and precludes secrecy. I have a feeling that, though many people might claim to want that level of transparency, few would be willing to be as honest and vulnerable as being without mask requires.

But the riches this type of sharing nurtures!  They seem to naturally fall into the deep connection that so many of us, on this planet, at least, long for.

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After the three caught up with each other, we all walked over to Seb and Octy’s.

Lemon was a beautiful dog, sweet-natured and extremely intelligent.

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I always wondered if she was an extra-T. She had an other-worldly quality. It wasn’t just in her mismatched eyes, but in her bright look. Sept said she communicated telepathically with him.

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If she was an extra-T dog, she wasn’t the first.

Mop, the pup Octy’s mother gave him, certainly was no breed from this planet. Mop had grown into a very unusual dog, with huge paws, a funny coiled tail, big mule-deer ears, and a squeaky soprano bark.

She came from a planet called Pu!’Re, where eleven moons reflect the light of the distant, dim sun. The people who inhabit the planet are pale cave-dwellers, roaming the dark forests and meadows to gather food. Through their physical connections with the plants, rocks, and wild creatures, they commune with the spirits of the natural world. For them, physical harmony is the highest good. Pu!’Re boskobo, like Mop, are considered messengers of the deities.

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Octy simply considered Mop his best friend.

Of course, the moment he met Lemon, he had two best friends

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I had begun to suspect that other extra-terrestrial boskobo had somehow come to or been dropped off at this planet. There was a red and white dog we met on the boardwalk who also had an intelligent gaze, and I’ve never seen a dog from around here with fur like that.

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Sebastion was thrilled with Lemon.

“She’s beautiful!” he said. “Are you sure you want to give her away?”

Momo assured him that it would be for the best, considering their crowded home.

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Seeing Momo and her family affected me more than I would have imagined. I suppose my heart still hurt from my father and mother disowning me. We’d never been that close, and I always knew that their values weren’t what I wanted for myself, but still, I felt I belonged with and to them, in some way, even as I struggled to break free.

Seb’s house was full with all of family, and the kitchen rang with laughter, singing, jokes–even little Winter Mori’s temper tantrum. It felt like a home should feel.

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I found I missed that feeling of belonging to a tribe, if I ever had it, and maybe I missed it all the more, for never having had it.

Of course Sept and I belonged with each other–I always felt how he found home in me. But in those moments when I was deeply honest with myself back then, I realized that, while I brought home to him, I myself didn’t feel I belonged–not when I saw him with Octy or Seb, not when I saw him with the pagotogo, not when I saw him with Manny or Whisper, and not when I saw Momo with her family.

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I could almost see the lines of affection that connected Momo to Ayaka to Alma to Winter. When one moved, it was as if the other sensed it.

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Ayaka, Momo’s wife, was from here, and she held an integral point in the family. She sparked a hope in me that maybe I could, too, someday. Maybe I could feel a child’s needs before she felt them, and be there with the hug, or glass of juice, or word of encouragement that she needed.

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I wanted that. I wanted freedom and independence–and I had them. But I also wanted, as a free and independent being, the invisible strings of family love to connect me to others.

Early the next morning, as I warmed myself by the fire, I let myself feel the depth of this longing as fully as I could. As each spark rose, I imagined it carrying my dreams of family, my dreams for community, my thirst for a tribe. Let these sparks fly!

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Author’s Note: Many thanks to Xantheanmar for sharing Elui with our story. You can learn more about him at  Potatoes and Carrots by Xantheanmar. And big thanks to Kira for letting Lemon come live with Seb, Octy, Mop, and the baby! I’m so happy that Momo and her family brought her, too! You can learn more about this lovely family at KK’s Sim Stories.

Puppy Love 11

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We played in the After, chasing light butterflies, frolicking under void clouds.

When I remembered to return, I faced a giant. Little Miss Molly had become a very big dog, indeed.

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Caleb was as smitten as ever.

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Go on, said Mochi. Make puppies already.

Oh, Ma! said Caleb, and I thought I saw the tip of his nose blush.

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Really, Mrs. Golde, said Little Miss Molly. I think we might, but maybe not if you were watching?

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I called Mochi to me. Let’s romp in the fields! I suggested. Show me what you’ve found!

We left Molly and Caleb to their doggy date, while we ran through the meadows. Have you ever seen a solitary dog, racing apparently alone, across a field, ears flapping, tail circling, and the broadest grin on her face? You thought the dog was simply expressing the joy of life. But maybe the dog wasn’t really alone–maybe the dog was racing the spirits, and this wasn’t merely joy-of-life, but that greatest joy, joy-of-all, combining the now, the After, the physical, the metaphysical. Who says dogs aren’t superstitious for a reason? It’s because, more than any, they are ever aware of our presence.

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When next I returned, I found Lucas bathing Molly.

“Here you go, Little Miss,” he said, “or should I call you, Little Missus! This will help with those aches and pains you’ve got. Not easy being a mommy-to-be, is it?”

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So she was expecting! Tongue hanging out, tail drooping, feet shuffling, it looked like she was at the mercy of an uncomfortable pregnancy.

I’m OK, really I am, she said. And I had to admire her resolve.

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It is always the light that takes me away, and the light that carries me back again.

The next time I came,  Bosko and Majora accompanied me, and we weren’t sure what to expect.

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Through the fields streaked white lightning.

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I’m not looking, Bosko said, superstitious even in the After, but I can feeling something behind me.

I think it’s a pup! I said.

Can’t be. It’s white, said Bosko. Pups are brown or black or tan.

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Pups can be white, I said.

Not that I’ve seen, replied Bosko.

But sure enough, it was a bouncing, racing, pouncing white pup.

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Meet Dustin, said Caleb, kissing his son.

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And so they had just the one pup, a little white male, with a curly tail, and a wide, high brow, and playful, laughing eyes.

Majora streaked through. This pup is trouble! she said. Black cats? Nothing! Watch out for white pups!

I had to chuckle. Dustin sat and politely waited for Majora to race past. He didn’t look like trouble to me!

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Good going, Little Miss Molly, I said. That’s quite a pup you and Caleb have.

Sure is, said Molly, if I do say so myself. He may be little now, but one day, he will be a giant!

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He may be, at that!

I hovered beside him.

Hello, little pup, I said. You have a look about you of your great grandpa Bobie–same sweet eyes! And a little curly tail like your grandpa, Bartholomew. And look at those sweet floppy ears! Just like Papa Caleb! You are one fine pup, Dustin! Even if you are the first white lightning pup of the family!

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Puppy Love 10

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The next time I showed up, the dogs and Otter clustered around the door. And what was that tiny little being I spied between Mochi’s feet?

It looked like a puppy!

It was! It was Molly, the not-yet-giant schnauzer.

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The same adoption agent that delivered Mochi to us was here. But this time, he seemed to need some convincing.

“I know we have a lot of dogs?” said Lucas. “And a cat? But we’ve still got room? At least in our hearts?”

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They sat together.

“I admit they all seem healthy,” said the agent, “and they look happy. But it can really change the dynamics when you introduce a new dog into the mix. Are you sure you’re ready for that?”

“Do I look ready! I’m ready?” Lucas replied.

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At last the agent was somewhat convinced.

“Let’s consider it a trial,” he said as he was leaving. “Give it a day or two, a week, and if there are any concerns at all, we won’t hold you to it. She’s a good dog! We won’t have any trouble re-homing her, if needed!”

“Oh?” said Lucas. “It won’t be needed!”

As soon as the door closed, Molly ran up to Caleb.

I’m Little Miss Molly! she shouted.

I’m smitten! said Caleb.

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You’re very big, she said.

You will be, too, he replied, one day. Until then, I’ll show you the ropes.

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And while Otter watched on, he taught her how to play.

First you fake down low, like this.

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And then you pounce! 

Otter snickered. She was the one who’d taught Caleb how to pounce!

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Think you’ve got it? Caleb asked.

Let her try! Just let her try it! suggested Otter.

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Molly took a more vocal approach.

I’m bigger than you! she barked. I’m bigger! One day… ay-ay-ay…

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When Lucas went to bed, I called Tanvi over so we could pup-sit together.

“She’s a lively little thing, isn’t she, Tan?” I asked.

“Needs to be,” said Tanvi, “to keep up with this crew.”

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“Happy, Bartholomew?” I asked.

He nodded.

“I’m happy, too,” said Tanvi.

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I was, too.

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Such fine dogs, Caleb and Crackers were! I felt awed when I considered that these were my Bobie’s grandpups, both so tall and strong. I couldn’t see much of Bobie in them, physically, but they both had his kind and gentle nature–and they had their grand-dam’s stubbornness!

“Mochi really brought in some beauty to this line, didn’t she, Tanvi?” I asked. “And a good bit of size!”

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“Oh, yes,” said Tanvi. “But they’ve also got all their sire’s sweetness!”

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Puppy Love 9

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Lucas had been picking up my violin, and Caleb was none-too-happy about it!

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Neither was Mochi. Even after he put away the instrument, Mochi and Caleb covered their eyes.

What’s wrong? Bartholomew asked.

Sounds like spiders! said Mochi.

Sounds like the refrigerator! Dancing on a chalkboard! said Caleb.

What’s this? I realized I could hear them.

It’s over now, anyway, said Bartholomew. It’s quiet!

Caleb dared to peek.

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See? said Bartholomew. Lukie’s eating snack!

Nope! said Caleb. I can still hear it! The after-tones! They’re after me!

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Coast is clear, said Mochi, lifting up her head and trotting out back.

See? said Bartholomew. Your ma says it’s OK!

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Well, if Ma says so, it must be! said Caleb.

“What’s up, Caleb?” asked Lucas. “Ready for a walk?”

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While Caleb and Lucas took a walk down to the wharf, I sat with the other dogs and Otter. We had a lazy afternoon, and we were just getting up from our afternoon nap when they returned.

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I checked on the garden. The gardener was doing a great job with it. All the plants were as healthy as they were when Tanvi and I tended them.

On the way back in, I found Caleb practicing yoga–downward dog of course–while Crackers meditated nearby.

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I waited until Lucas went to sleep before manifesting into form. I had something very specific I wanted to check: Lucas’s browsing history.

There it was: The Animal Rescue Adoption page.

And it looked like Lucas had bookmarked the profile of female giant schnauzer puppy.

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Bosko and Bobie waited for me outside. We had planned to head back together.

“Don’t worry, boys!” I said. “Lucas is making sure the lineage stays strong! It’s Golde puppies forever!”

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Puppy Love 8

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We are always with you. Don’t think that we are dead and departed. Just because we’ve crossed over doesn’t mean we can’t cross back.

When your eyes sting from sudden beauty, your heart jumps, your breath catches, we are there, whispering to you, This is life! Soak it in!

We are there when hardship comes, too, and when you feel you have no support, we are there. But that’s another story!

For today, the sun shines, the waterfall chatters, the vireos sing, and you walk in freedom and joy.

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Lucas, do you know how proud we are of you?

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The puppies have grown. Caleb is a beautiful long-haired spaniel, with soft kind eyes.

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Crackers has his sire’s coiled tail and strong form.

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Caleb and Mochi have chosen each other as playmates.

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While Crackers and Bartholomew have become close companions.

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Lucas, you are everything we could have asked for in a caregiver, and more! When I see how healthy, strong, playful, and happy our pups and Otter are, I send you all the gratitude a ghost can muster!

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On her first visit, Tanvi, so newly in spirit, had yet to realize that the joy of the living can still fill us.

Crossing back for the first time one feels the sudden shock of sadness–so much that we have left, and so many who miss us still!

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I joined her, that first day, hoping that I might find a way smooth her re-entry.

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But you beat me to it, Lucas. If you felt startled to see her, you didn’t show it. You welcomed her back as the old friend she always was.

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We can feel warmth when you hug us–and we can feel your joy even more than you know.

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Tanvi made friends with Caleb, too, while Bartholomew and Mochi looked on. Lucas, you’ve raised these pups well to know not to feel skittish around spirits!

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Or at least you’ve tried! Mochi still gets spooked when she catches sight of me through the corner of her eye. Perhaps it’s because she never knew my living form.

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When Crackers bounded up to you, asking for reassurance, you wrapped him in your arms. “It’s our friends, Crackers, back to meet you, now you’re all grown!” you said.

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While you helped Crackers settle, Tanvi and I reacquainted ourselves with the joys of being in the same physical space at the same time.

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It’s hard to describe what it’s like in the After. Space, when filled with all-of-space, and time, filled with all-of-time, lose any point of reference. So while Tanvi and I are together in the After, we share merged closeness, which differs from what we feel here as much as one differs from two.

But here, with our spirits mirroring our old forms, we have points of reference so that we can enjoy here and there, and finding ourselves in this place, together.

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“Care for a cup of tea?” I asked Tanvi.

“Don’t mind if I do!” she replied.

Inside the tea-pot I went with a shake and a rattle! And I came out Laplsang Suochong.

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Tanvi left a message for you in the garden: The bonsai in a heart-shape.

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She is learning how memory works–that you remember and our love continues.

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We are with you always, dear Lucas. Don’t think that just because we’ve crossed over, we won’t cross back.

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We are with you to offer support, to provide strength, and to encourage. Sometimes, we even have suggestions.

Do you think that your inspiration to look for a female dog, one who might carry on Bobie’s line, came from nowhere?

It was me, whispering, Adopt a pup!

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