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ASLAN & COCO - KIMBERLY REISS


When I enter the wardrobe, I am wearing jean shorts, flip flops and a red t-shirt, completely forgetting that it’s probably cold in Narnia, at least colder than the 90 degrees it is today in Austin, Texas. It’s inky black inside the wardrobe, so I put my hands out in front of me, and grab onto what I believe is a fur coat. I am rushing. As my eyes adjust, I rummage through the bottom of the wardrobe and put on the first two furry boots I can find, a hat, gloves, a scarf and some wool pants. Anything to stay warm. Bundled up, from head to toe, I push my way through the rest of the hanging fur coats and then come out the other side in Narnia.


It’s all white, the ground is entirely covered in pure, untouched snow. The Fir trees are dusted, like God sprinkled powdered sugar on the tops. It’s Friday, market day in Narnia. As much as I would love to take my time and browse, find the best Turkish Delight and maybe some maroon pears to bring back home, I have no Narnian currency, and I am on a mission. I need to find Aslan. It is urgent and time is ticking. I have a message for him that he must know before 12 noon, or 12:15 the latest. I start walking up a cobblestone path has been scraped free of snow. I think this is the right way, it looks a little bit familiar. But, since I’m short on time, I turn to the illuminated lamp posts and shout,


Am I going the right direction to find Aslan?


The lamp post flickers on and off, and its metal post bends in the direction I’m walking, so I take that as a yes.


Bless you lamp post! I shout behind me as I pick up the pace to a run.


I’m panting and sweating underneath all these suffocating layers but keep moving until I see a hill off to my left.


Thank you, cobblestone path! I yell and begin trekking up the side of the hill.


The powdery snow comes up to my knees, so I have to take big, wide, almost comical steps. When I reach the top of the hill, I see him, sitting atop a low stone throne. He is bigger, even more regal-looking and glorious in real life.


Aslan! I say, panting in front of the throne.


Yes, my human child. he says, looking deep into my eyes.


Aslan, I need you to know that my beloved Coco is dying at 12:00 human time. Central Standard Time, to be precise. Could you please insure her a safe passage to the other side? She she saved my soul from despair 14 years ago, and I need to be sure she knows how eternally grateful I am for her love and friendship. Can you please tell her?


Yes, my human child. I knew you were coming, for Coco is a sister to me and my kind. You can be assured that she will have an easy and safe passage. She also wants me to tell you that she is equally grateful to you for your love and care. You gave her a most adventurous and precious life. But, as is true of all living things, it is her time. She is ready to go, and she is suffering. Thank you, dear Aslan, I say.


My human child, Aslan says with deep tenderness, You must go now. She is waiting for you. Okay, I say. I throw my arms around his neck, and let my face bury into the deep inches of his fur. He is musty earth mixed with a sweet, rich nutmeg.


I turn and run as fast as I can in my big boots. Down the hill, tripping, tumbling, wet snow covers me. I reach the cobblestone path and pick up the pace, sprinting past the lamp posts who bow slightly as I pass. I am running faster than I ever have. I dart past the market, a blur of red, orange, green, purple. I stop suddenly, and search for the wardrobe. In my haste to reach Aslan, I didn’t look for any landmarks. I search the trees, on my knees in the deep snow looking for clues, and cry out,


Help me, please help me find the wardrobe! I am running out of time!


A little chipmunk hops up right in front of me and points with his tiny paw. He guides me exactly to the place where the wardrobe sits! Out of site you don’t know its there, and perfectly visible if you do. I bend down as low as I can go, look into the tiny black eyes of the chipmunk and nod my head in thanks. He nods back. I push through the heavy wooden door with all my weight and am hit in the face by the wardrobe smell. I grab one wet boot and pull it off, then the other, then the soaked coat, hat, scarf and gloves. Usually very orderly, but with no time to spare, I leave everything on the ground, grab my flip-flops and push through the other door.


I am back in my bedroom in Austin, sitting on my bed. The sun is shining in slits through the half-way closed blinds. I see my husband, holding Coco’s head in his lap, and Coco, splayed out, frothy grey fur around her mouth, panting in short breaths on her bed, which is in the middle of our bed. The vet sits on the bed frame’s wooden edge, close to Coco, flicking a long syringe. Our new puppy sits as still as I have ever seen her, just her nostrils moving, staring directly at Coco. The vet told us that other dogs in the pack can smell when a pack member is dying, and it’s important for them to be present, so they’re not confused when the dying pup is gone. My husband is stroking Coco’s head, and I am taking in her cedar-scented, brindled, thick fur in my fingers, and tell her over and over, I love you Coco, I love you Coco. Thank you, Coco.


It’s time, the vet whispers.


I watch as she pulls apart the fur to get to Coco’s skin and injects the needle deep into her body. I move my body so I can look into Coco’s eyes. Her black eyes look right through me. Within a few seconds, I hear the panting slow, then watch her body go limp, and then, at rest. She is gone.



Kimberly Reiss is a licensed psychotherapist and writer of poetry, flash fiction and memoir. She is the co-author of an award-winning play entitled, Man In The Flying Lawnchair, which was included in Best Plays of 2000, appeared in The Edinburgh Fringe Festival (where it won the prestigious Fringe First Award), and was re-recorded as a radio play for the BBC. She is the creator of an on-going workshop and forthcoming workbook, MOTHERHOOD SELFHOOD, born out of her extensive experience working with mothers raising children (and losing themselves in the process), and her own experience of raising her daughter while juggling a full psychotherapy practice. Her poetry has been published in Boats Against the Current, Roi Fenéant Press and others. Kimberly divides her time between Austin and Los Angeles.


IG: @motherhoodselfhood

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