Whenever I drive past a dead pet on the side of the road…
It was past Jasmine’s bedtime even though she was a big school girl now. Instead of getting stroppy with her, though, her parents just hovered nervously in the background whispering to each other.
Jasmine was standing on the verandah in her dressing gown. It was covered in Blacky’s hair because he always slept on her bed in winter, and Jasmine always slept in her gown.
It was past Blacky’s bedtime, too, but he wasn’t inside. “He’s probably really cold,” Jasmine said to her parents. “And it’s raining, so he’s probably wet, too. I should get a towel so I can dry him when he comes inside.”
Jasmine’s mother and father looked at each other. “Okay, darling, that’s a good idea,” her mother said, and went upstairs to fetch one.
“Maybe you should shake the food tin.” Her father stepped out onto the verandah to hand it to her. “Blacky always comes when we shake the food tin.”
Jasmine took the tin from her father, and shook it. “Blacky!” she called as loudly as she could. “Blacky! Here, puss, puss, puss!”
She stayed very quiet for a few moments to see if she could hear Blacky’s bell. She’d chosen that herself on Blacky’s third birthday. It was blue, because Blacky was a boy. Nothing. She couldn’t hear anything, not even a little meow. She kept trying, calling Blacky, singing Blacky’s favourite song, and then eventually she took the torch from the top drawer in the kitchen and hunted around in the wet grass and wet flowers for her best friend since she was very little.
“I think you should go to bed,” her mother said to her. “I’m sure by the time you wake up Blacky will be back!”
Jasmine looked skeptical, but she could see Blacky wasn’t in the garden. “Maybe he’s having an adventure!” she said to her father as he picked her up. “Or a sleepover at another kitty’s house!”
Her mother and father looked at each other, but eventually smiled at her. “I bet he’s having lots of fun,” her mother said as she tucked Jasmine into bed.
The spot where Blacky slept under Jasmine’s arm was empty that night, but she didn’t really care. It was fun to think of Blacky having a party with the other kitties in the neighbourhood.
She cared more the next night, though, and then the next.
It was on third night she realized that Blacky wasn’t coming home.
“Do you think he’s okay?” Jasmine asked her mother, her eyes swimming with tears.
“I bet wherever he is he’s having lots of fun now,” she said stoically, and turned away. Jasmine could see she was crying, too.