On any ordinary day, the fabric can be torn to let in the extraordinary and stark reality that lies in wait behind every daily moment.
The sun shines over the bay, and in the little houses, the kettle sings for the morning tea pot, and the sleepy eyes rub open, and the toast pops up, and the clouds whisper that rain is simply a memory, on this and every fair morning.
We think of what we might buy that day–maybe dinosaur candies! Whatever put that into our mind? And the hum of the airplane draws other eyes upwards. Dinosaur Yums! Of course!
It’s an ordinary day, and we can buy what we like, for we have all day, every day, to earn our coin and spend it howsoever we choose, and sweets to drink and sweets to suck are as good as anything we might work for.
But not really. For in any house, on any day, it might not be an ordinary day.
The crash of thunder. The black smoke. Through the veil, the ghastly hand of death.
On an ordinary day, the maid sweeps the dog hair from the kitchen floor. The dogs wait by the supper bowl.
But for the cat, it’s no ordinary day. It’s the last corporeal day, and the body falls beside the forgotten toy.
“I’m so very or-di-nary,” drawls Thunder Voice. But only so, if one is like me, on the other side already.
“We don’t have time for you,” I tell the ordinary shepherd.
He would give me a raspberry, if he had an ordinary tongue.
Once the fabric tears, the shock sets in. The tears, the heart leaping from throat to gut. The whimpers. The long droop of dog ears.
Lucas feigns shock. Surely he knew, after Bartholomew left, that the other old ones would have to follow. Otter today, perhaps Mochi tomorrow. Or if not then, soon enough. The young ones stay, to mend the tear.
“Let’s seeee,” drawls the ghastly one. “Quite a long list here for the coming fortnight! Guess I’ll be racking up the frequent flier miles!”
“Can it,” I tell him. “This isn’t the the time.”
He chuckles, anyway. It is his ordinary day, for his ordinary type of humor, though for Lucas, everything has taken on a strange and halting quality.
I wait. Otter will come with me. The shepherd hands over the brilliant shine.
“Thank you,” and she is in my pocket, for safekeeping through the gaping tear, to the other side, where she will find the extraordinary of the After.
The fool hangs around, watching ordinary television. Caleb stands beside, keeping him well in sight.
We wait, hoping he won’t make himself too at home. But he lingers for the second feature. When Frogman devours the princess, he chuckles, and turns off the set.
“Later, dudes and dudettes!” The thunder, the smoke, and his scythe is the last to fade.
It is no ordinary day when the tear reaches from the sky through your heart. Everything stops.
Could it be that in a house across the bay the kettle boils for another pot of tea? And does someone sit down with the evening paper, to work a crossword puzzle?
Hasn’t the foundation cracked and crumbled? Nothing will ever be ordinary again, for Otter, our cat of cats, is in the After, and Lucas and the pups are left behind.