It started as a rumor. An old lady was seen approaching our village from the Bridge. It was strange for someone to pass over at our crossing, especially without Foley’s knowledge or anyone to greet them. She was still wearing the body of her death, old, wrinkled, hunched, world-weary. Her steps reflected that as she shuffled slowly up a green hill where a wooden bench was located. She sat down and reached into the bag she had clutched as she sped down the River of Life to this destination. She opened the bag, pulled out dog biscuits, and softly whistled.
At first, no dogs answered the call because it was specific, meant for a pack of dogs the old lady had been a mother to. Then I heard the sound of paws pounding on the ground, and a pack of Corgis, with their tails wagging, ran towards the sound. They let out a yelp of joy when they saw the older woman, ran to her, jumped on her, and smothered her with one million kisses.
Curious, Foley, Pocket, and I followed the Corgis and found them on top of the older woman, licking and yipping. When they parted, she was gone, replaced by an earlier version of herself, just out of her teenage years, and she began playing with dozens of dogs.
One of the Corgis got the zooms and began running in circles around the group. When she stopped, I asked who the woman was, and the Corgi answered, “My momma!” That was evident.
The woman stood, turned to us, and smiled. “It’s the Queen,” Foley said.
“She doesn’t look like Hattie Mae,” Pocket said, confused.
“No, it is the Queen of England. I heard she passed but can’t believe she is here.”
We discussed her appearance, and I said there was only one way to find out. Despite the breach in protocols, I approached the Queen.
I excused myself, told her I knew who she was, and it was an honor to meet her, and even tried a little curtsy, but it made me look like I was squatting to pee. I asked her why she had come to the land of dogs when so many people were waiting for her on the human side.
She told me that for 96 years, she had served men, and she had promised, that when she crossed over, it would just be her and the dogs, and she wouldn’t have to worry about the people.
I told her I understood and inquired about Prince Phillip, and she told me she would see him soon enough, but after half a century of marriage, they deserved a break, and as long as he had his bottle of sherry, he would be fine.
I returned to my sisters, told them what I had learned, and suggested we leave her to her dogs.
She had earned it.