Rusty looked at the sky; his beady eyes searching for shapes among the stars that were no doubt as natural to him as street signs were to myself.
“Most that come here—that change—they don’t go back.”
Licking his lips, he yawned and then shook his head.
“It’s a shame you won’t stay, as I’ve a feeling we might’ve had some grand adventures together. It would be nice to show you the places I go, and yet I understand the nature of what lies in your heart. I don’t begrudge you for the path you have chosen. Wishing to be with the one who speaks to your heart in the same way as the stars do to mine is not something that can be denied.”
Turning to face me, he grinned and blinked and licked his nose again.
“Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to go back—to return to my human ways—and yet the longer I’m away, the less I feel the need to return. Perhaps one day you’ll visit me once more? I’d like very much to spend some time with you and Prudence. I’ve so many sights to show the two of you. There are things out here you wouldn’t believe. Things that I can’t describe. In the light—there are things in the light that are too much for me to take, and yet I never turn away because it’s like I’m seeing through the eyes of God. Everything sings and shines. Do you understand?”
Rusty looked at me intently.
“Yes. I think so” I replied.
“When I’m in the light, and I’m on the trail of some song, I find myself going through these doors. There are some that many have stepped through, while others lead to places that are as pure as the softest, freshest of snow. It almost feels sacrilege to step foot in them, and yet when I do, it’s like falling in love, and the romance that wraps itself around me makes me feel like a baby gazing into the eyes of its mother.”
He paused as if deep in thought.
“Something tells me that one day I shall become like the one who saved me.”
“You mean Penny?”
“Yes,” he said. “I shall go into the light, and I shall become the light, and although my body will cease to be, I shall be alive in all times and places. Not yet, but soon enough. I’m not as young as I used to be. I’ve no idea how long I’ve been here, and yet the stars are different somehow.”
I made to respond but bit my tongue. Lost in thought, Rusty swayed his head as the music floated all around.
“Somewhere in the light, in the forest, there is a door. Your door, and hers.”
Another yawn. Another lick of the nose.
“Behind it, there lies a vision of life as you see it.”
“How do I find it?” I asked.
“Follow the music. Follow your heart. Go as you are—as you always have been.”