By Lela Marie De La Garza.
Anton sat on the front porch and greeted Fred as he came by. “Hi. Can you stay for awhile?”
“Maybe on the way back. Right now I have to go to the park and sniff around a tree.”
After him came Norman. “Hi. Do you have time to talk?”
“Well, no. I’ve been following a scent all morning. It might be important…later maybe…”
Diana was next. Hopefully, Anton asked “Will you sit with me?”
“Can’t. It’s almost nap time, and there’s a cushion on my own porch calling to me. Later perhaps.”
Two other friends came scurrying by, barking their “Hi’s” as they did so. They were always scampering from place to place, always in a hurry.
Anton was a five year old boy. Fred was a Dachshund, Norman was a mixed Labrador and Cocker breed; Diana was a Siamese cat, and the last two were unnamed squirrels.
Anton’s mother watched with amused pleasure. If her son thought he could talk to animals and that made him happy, it made her happy too.
Anton really could talk to animals, and not just animals. He often spoke to bees that came buzzing by looking for nectar; to sparrows hopping and chirping in the trees.
Most of Anton’s friends were too busy to stay with him long, but a large crow came often and perched on the porch for awhile—taking care to keep out of Anton’s mother’s sight. She did not like crows.
The bird could not actually speak, and Anton’s vocabulary was not large enough to understand many words, but the crow was able to put pictures into his mind…
…a field rustling with golden corn…the joke of a scarecrow that no one paid attention to…a bear coming out of his cave in the spring, looking around at the flowers budding into colour…trees leafing into green…the coastline where waves smashed like china plates against black rocks…white birds wheeling and plunging with strange cries…
The crow didn’t know Anton was blind and in a wheelchair. He didn’t know that he was giving Anton flight and sight. He only knew Anton was his friend.
Anton died before his sixth birthday. The doctors said it was a miracle he had lived this long. They also concurred his early death was probably a mercy. None of this was any comfort to Anton’s mother.
Outside the church a group of animals sat and watched as the tiny coffin was carried down the sidewalk. It consisted of a dachshund, a cocker/labrador mix, a siamese, two squirrels, and a large crow.
LELA MARIE DE LA GARZA has had work published in “Guardian Angel Kids,” “Passion Beyond Words”, “Black Denim,” “Yellow Mama,” “Bewildering Stories,” “Breath and Shadow”, and “The Western Online”. Her latest novel, “Mistral,” was published in December of 2014. She was born in Denver, CO. in 1943 while her father was serving in WWII. She currently resides in San Antonio, TX. with three and a half cats and a visiting raccoon.