It was strangely warm. The small room we were in didn’t feel cramped at all, but it wasn’t the familiar room I was used to. Momma and Papa were with me, but I couldn’t speak to them. I just felt so…heavy.
A little bit of coolness came over my body. It was a strange feeling, like chewing on plastic but all over. What was happening? I wasn’t scared because I was with them, but I was still unsure. Every time they stopped petting me, I would look around helplessly. “Please don’t leave,” I wanted to say, but I couldn’t.
Suddenly, the coolness stopped. I felt myself being lifted, picked up almost. But when I looked down, I was still laying on the blue table. My Momma and Papa were crying. I wanted to comfort them, lick their tears away! I was just too high up.
And then it went dark.
“It’s been a long time, Brother.”
I was lying on something soft. It smelled very familiar. I pushed my face into the softness for a moment before opening my eyes. Standing before me was a brilliant being, a stark white tiger. My brow furrowed. I looked into his eyes. They were like sapphires. Suddenly, it clicked.
“Maximillian?” The tiger grinned, and I stood up hastily. I jumped down from the softness and ran to him. “Maximillian, I’ve missed you so,” I whispered, nuzzling into my brother’s fur.
“And I have missed you, Ollivander,” my brother responded. “Look at you! Your coat is so shiny. You’ve been taking care of yourself since I’ve been away.”
I looked down at my paws. They were a lot bigger than I remembered. “What is this?” I asked him.
“Your true form. Your mane is luxurious, Brother,” Maximillian added. “Much better than when we were children.”
I looked around the room we were in. It felt like Home. “Where are we?”
“We are in the After World,” my brother said. “This place looks like our first home, but it isn’t. We’re in a world made for us.”
“I don’t understand.”
Maximillian just smiled. “Come. I will show you what I mean.”
We began to walk around the house, its rooms feeling exactly like they were before The Big Move. Walking up the stairs, I realized my Momma and Sissy’s beds were still in their places, untidy and unmade. Grand Father’s Room usually was closed off, but to my surprise, the door was cracked. “Isn’t this door usually closed?” I asked my brother.
He hummed. “In this world, it is open. Remember the birds Grand Father kept?” I simply nodded. “In this world they are not kept in cages. They are allowed to roam freely around the house, but usually keep to this room. They share their secrets with me sometimes.”
“What do they say?”
“They speak of a time where Grand Father loved them just as much as I,” Maximillian purred, a sad smile on his lips. “We are all here together in the After World. I do not hunt them unless they want to play. They can’t be hurt, but it is still a thrill. Come now,” he said, walking back down the stairs. “There is more to see.”
In the grand kitchen, there was a big white door. That door always frightened me, but somehow it seemed warm and inviting now. “What is this door?”
“The back door,” my brother said. “Remember how scary it was? Now, it is a magnificent portal to the After World’s Grass Fields.”
“But Maximillian,” I started, confused. “You don’t like the Outside.”
He shook his head. “This is where you are wrong, Brother. My mortal body didn’t like the outdoors. This new one?” He guestured to himself. “This one loves the grass against its feet, and the sun pouring into its fur. We shall go Outside soon. There is one more thing I would like to show you.”
The living room was empty, save for the two of us. “Close your eyes and think of your favorite moment with Momma and Papa.” I closed my eyes as he instructed and began to think. I imagined a soft pillow, my Momma on my right and my Papa on my left. They were both so warm! Their pets felt amazing, as usual. But there were few times I would come down from my bed to be with them in the main rooms of the house.
When I opened my eyes, I could feel their energy in the room. “Where are they?”
“They are not here, physically,” Maximillian said. His voice was soft and sad. “A piece of their souls live within us. Everyone who has ever loved us put their love and soul into us,” he explained. “And because of that, when they come to the After World, they will be able to find us once again. For now, it is more like a memory of their love, but it feels wonderful.” He motioned to the soft pillows. “Go, sit between them.”
As he pointed, I saw a shimmering light, and two strangely shaped beings were sitting, waiting on the pillows for me to come sit. “Momma? Papa?” I walked over cautiously. Momma was patting the pillows as she always did, calling out the name she had given me.
“Oyaya! Come here, baby!” Momma and Papa were eager for me to jump up, so jump up I did. Just as I remembered, their hands began to caress my coat. They felt as if they were right here! Unfortunately, it also felt like they were so far away. I began to purr and sat down between them, licking their arms and the air between us as I always have.
Maximillian rubbed up against Momma’s shimmering legs, and he was lifted to be with me. He began to clean behind my ears. “I have missed you so, my Brother,” he told me. “Our family will be with us again one day, but for now, these souls are what we have.” He leaned into Papa’s pets. “Doesn’t it feel divine?”
“It does,” I agreed, leaning into my brother as he sat next to me. He licked my face as I continued to speak. “How long must we wait for Momma and Papa? What about Grand Father and Sissy? And what of the Best and his kin?”
“They will all be here in due time,” my Brother said woefully. “You see, they live much longer than you and I ever could. It will feel like an eternity, but we have their love to keep us warm and we have plenty of time to spend together in the Grass Fields.”
I looked to the Outside, the glass portal showing me the bright hills and fluttering trees. “Shall we go now?” I wondered aloud.
Maximillian smiled. “If you wish. Momma and Papa and everyone will be here when we return. If you wish to return, just close your eyes and you will be Home.” We jumped down from the softness and when we landed, we were Outside. The warmth of the sun enveloped me in happiness, but I still had one question before I could finally relax.
“How do you know all of this, Brother?” It was truly a lot of responsibility he had shouldered, it seemed, to be responsible for telling me about this new world.
“Well,” he began. “Once I was taken away from you, we went to that Blue Table, just like you.”
“Yes. I was so tired.” I nodded, remembering the pain he went through before he left. “But they made the choice to deliver me to this world,” he continued. “Without them, I would be lost, my soul fluttering through time and space, forever searching for you, my Brother. Because of their love for me, however, I was sent here.” He paused, looking away from me. “Remember Rubenesco?”
“The Grand Father’s child? He was given the name Ruben by him, yes? He is the same?”
“Yes.” Maximillian paused again, licking his paw in deep thought. “He showed me this place. He has been here for a very long time. When I arrived, he told me everything I needed to know to greet you. If you look, he is over in the big tree,” he added, pointing to a tree far out into the distance. It was all golden, save for a speck of bluish grey.
“Is that him?” I asked, squinting to see a little better. Brother purred in confirmation. “He is so grand.”
“He and the Queen rule our After World,” he informed me. “They knew I would be the one to greet you when you arrived, so they told me what I needed to know and have been keeping me company ever since. But now, you are here, my Brother.” He pressed his forehead to mine. “You are here and we shall never be apart again, just like in the Mortal World.”
I smiled, a feeling of bliss coming over me. “Yes,” I purred. “We are together at last.”
The last childhood pet I had, Oliver (Aka Oyaya) passed away yesterday (as of the date of writing this, anyways). Out of all the pet losses I’ve ever had, this one really felt different.
Max and Oliver taught me how to be a Cat Mom, and I’m so happy that I was able to take care of them after I became an adult and started paying my own way. They taught me responsibility, how to love someone selflessly, and how to be patient and kind, among other things. All of my childhood pets taught me one thing or another, but those two really showed me so much, and really helped me become the person I am today.
Max passed about two years ago, and Oliver wasn’t ever the same. I imagine in the Kitty Afterlife, Max would patiently wait for his brother, knowing that he alone would greet him and love him for eternity. I wrote this mostly to cope with the loss, but also because I figured it would be a good challenge to write in a style different from my normal style. I also wanted to make up fun names for the cats (because if the musical taught us anything, it’s that cats have many different names!). Hopefully you liked it!
Follow me on Twitter if you’d like to see my adventures with my other lovey cat, the evil and elusive Freya, as well as keep up with updates and general life events. Love y’all! See ya next week!