"Barely Alive"---Jody-Lynn Reicher
Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump. Feeling the vibrations getting closer, still being stunned. Unable to think to move. The taste of dirt in his mouth, his nose feels scratched. -Whoosh ... Whoosh ... Beep, Beep ... patter, patter, pitter, pitter. A pair of feet run by. He feels the eyes gaze down at him, with immense sorrow and pity.
Not many beings can have such a sense of feeling the security and warmth of a young loving heart. But he's gifted. He hears her thoughts as she leaves him. He senses her feelings of guilt for not giving him more love. He picks his head up, vaguely seeing the bottom of sneakers departing. Seeing at first mostly a white speckled band in front of him, he realizes he's not home.
He's confused and trying not to get upset, he knows he must regroup if he were to ever find his home again. Whoosh... Whoosh ... He hides his face. The running sneakers are now out of sight. Not a soul around. He feels death approaching. He sits up. He's full of dirt and cinder. The shirt homemade for him is still intact. He looks down, then around. Tears well in his eyes.
He realizes he must hook onto a loving spirit to exist. Crunch... Crunch...Slip, Ping, Crunch... Crunch... Slip, Ping, Crunch... Crunch...
"I sense a warm heart." He thinks as he wiggles his ears. "Thin wheels?" He leaps onto a piece of steel, hanging on for dear life. He looks up during his free ride and sees a lonely old fellow pumping his legs. The man does not see him. Looking straight ahead he feels a warmer heart, the first heart that left him minutes before.
"Those feet!" He thinks, how can he catch up to her. He senses familiarity, in her heart, as he hangs onto the old man's sprockets.
Closer, Closer he rides. He's within yards of her. 'How will he ever exist, if he can not find a loving heart.' He thinks. He jumps, saying a prayer into the wind as he does, and lands miraculously in the runner's open hood, flapping in the breeze. The runner is unfettered by his presence and does not realize he's in her hood.
As she runs, people wave to her randomly from time to time, mile after mile. Every time she waves, the hood moves more, knocking him about.
"Keep going girl!" He hears one moment. "Good morning, Jody!" The next.
'Must be a friendly person. Her smell is familiar'. He thinks to himself.
Still feeling a bit stunned, his long-term memory does not serve him as well as usual. For the type of soul he is, he has the capacity to live many generations, and tell true soulful stories to his kin, to children and to a select few adults who don't think he's silly.
As he's jostled around in her hood, he begins to reminisce of when his soul felt newer, and he didn't have to struggle with feeling useless. He remembers a little girl, who twenty-six years ago was the first soul to love him. Oh how he missed her love. He wasn't a silly thing to her, even as she grew. Then came the day her mother took him away from her. The little girl mourned his loss. He could hear her cries in the night wind. Since then, over the last nineteen years, once in a while his ears would burn as if she were looking for him still, or talking about him to someone, perhaps to God.
He knew how she loved him. Nineteen years ago. Oh so long ago that was. When he was in a predicament similar to this very moment's. He'd prayed since then that God would restore him to the original soul that missed and loved him. He believed his purpose was to create hope and joy in his lifetime for living souls. Thinking back, 'She'd use to call me 'Tiger'. He could never figure out why she gave him such a name. For he was brown and didn't look at all like a tiger or a cat for that matter.
To this day, he has continued to pray. "And now look at me", He thought, "Have I been forsaken? Surely, I have made another soul happy in the last nineteen years. Haven't I?" There was no answer. 'Or was his soul dying? Was this to be his demise? Was it true that there was no heaven nor hereafter for anyone? From all those adults he'd heard at little Lisa's house, a few nights ago. 'That there was no God. Was this to be? That all this hope and love were for naught? And the voice he'd heard in his soul as peacefulness and answers to his questions, were they just all his imagination? And perhaps, he was 'just a silly thing'?'
Amidst all the uncertainty, there still is that ache in his heart. There still is a feeling of hope in his soul. "Why is it there, if God didn't exist or if God didn't care? Those souls who say such things, must be liars. They must not understand true love." He concluded. Humbly he realizes his own wisdom and feels at peace because of it.
All of a sudden, he's being bounced precariously, ever more out of control in the hood. He peaks out of the hood, "Supersonic speed, Oh my!" He fears. He closes his eyes and says a prayer, that this journey ends soon or it may be the death of him. His stomach is empty, but the roller coaster ride he's getting is just too scary for him. 'Is this the way, I should die?' He asks God, out-loud. "Oh, what a sad life. Why did I ever love? Only to get tossed out by unappreciative souls twice over? Oh too much for me to bare."
Suddenly, the tempo shifts to a steady jaunt. It slows to a near halt. Again he peaks out of the hood. Everything is now moving slowly by. Again, she waves to people.
He hears, "Hi Jody".
"Wait!" He remembers, that was the name of the little girl who called him 'Tiger'. "Could this be her?" He sees her multicolored brown hair with honeysuckle streaks, as he remembered from nineteen years ago. Nearly shrieking, with excitement. He leans to smell her neck. "It's got to be that little girl. My first love."
Nearly overcome with joy, he decides to keep quiet and not become too sure of himself. But her heart, he senses is one that he could live with in peace. As he prays she'll accept him. He knows he's not what he was. Not much to look at. He fears he's lost his cuteness. She may just throw him away, as her mom did. He recalls.
As his uncertainty sinks in, a hand reaches in to pull him out of the hood. "Hey, what's this?" A voice exclaims. "What's what?" Asks Jody. "This, it's a dirty little brown bear, with a striped shirt on, Jody." The voice explains. A strange man hands him to Jody - "Oh, wow it looks like 'Tiger'? Oh, this is too funny."
Tiger, now thinks to himself, "does she think I'm silly as well?" "Tiger, who's Tiger?" The strange man asks. The little bear, thinks, "It's me! Can't you hear my soul? Don't you know who I am? God what has happened to the little girl I once knew?" Feeling a sort of soulful presence, the woman explains, "Norman it's got to be Tiger. My little bear that was taken away from me when I was 10. Oh, he's so dirty. Poor bear." Norman responds, "I can clean him, if you want, remember how I cleaned Twinkie?"
"Oh wow, this is a treat!" She exclaims. The little bear thinks, "she's going to eat me?" The man says, "I'll wash his little shirt too. Why did you call him 'Tiger'?" The woman responds, "because I wanted a special, original name for him. He just had the look in his eyes, with the excitement of tiger. His striped shirt made him look more so like a tiger to me as a child. When I was three or four I called anything with stripes on it a tiger."
The man and woman walk into a house with the little brown bear. That day, Tiger is cleaned, his shirt washed and placed with twenty new friends who are just like him. He thinks to himself, "I am the happiest bear alive".