A Guiding Star
A Care Bear Story
Once more he stood there, silent, staring up at the night sky, admiring at the stars. He had always been enchanted by those bright spots, highlighted in the darkness of the night, accompanied by the moon that made his white fur shine like silver. This was one of the few things the white tiger did while locked in his cage, from which he only went out for training and for performances in the stall.
Except that since his companion Dawnstar became pregnant, he could not do that. The circus keepers had separated him from the white tigress because the male tigers generally kill the cubs themselves to force the females to mate again. However, Cosmo had never wanted to do that. He was different, he loved Dawnstar, and he loved the little white tiger that had been born only two months before, and which circus people called Brightstar.
It was strange that he had instinct of wanting to be a father, to be always with his daughter and his partner. His own parents had not had this kind of feeling for him, so much so that Cosmo hardly remembered their face because he had been separated and sold to that circus at only eight months of age. This was a very sad thing for him, and his greatest wish was that his daughter, his firstborn, did not have to go through the same kind of thing. Except that from the birth of the little tiger, Dawnstar did not allow him to approach, and he could only see from a distance the female cub growing and developing.
Unfortunately the tiger had nothing to do about it, just respect his mate and stay away from both. Luckily the stars remained, and he lay down in his cage to continue looking at the bright spots in the sky. But soon he realized that something was wrong. There was smoke coming from the circus canvas, and the smell of burning soon reached its nostrils. Dawnstar and the other animals also seemed to realize that something was not right.
Suddenly, fire and despair! High flames appeared around the canvas, and swiftly took the stall. Both the officials and the spectators began to scream in despair, fleeing the fire or trying to fight him. Glowing ash flew in the wind in all directions, and soon the fire spread in the parking lot of the trailers and also in the hay stock to feed the elephants and horses, just where was the cage of Dawnstar and Brightstar!
Cosmo noticed the flames intensifying as the hay near her companion and daughter's cage began to smoke in incredible flames, advancing toward the trailer. Dawnstar looked through the bars toward the fire, then at the little female tiger and then at the male tiger, and began to howl with despair, begging for help. But no official seemed to hear the distressing howls, even as Cosmo joined his companion. Fire rushed through the hay scattered on the ground, and then wrapped the cage of the females.
Seeing this, the white cat froze in fear, but soon afterward he threw himself with all his might against the wooden door of the cage. He did it once, two, three times, scratching desperately at the door with his claws to the point where his fingers began to bleed. He needed to get out of there, he needed to help Dawnstar and Brightstar, who howled in pain and fear in the flames!
Taking impulse, he ran toward the door, managing to break the first hinge. He did not even care that he had cut his cheek with the impact, he really needed to help the tigress and the daughter. Again he threw it against the door and broke the second hinge, while the third and the door came down. Cosmo jumped out of the cage and ran through the fire toward the burning trailer where Dawnstar and Brightstar were, crossing through the flames and the smokescreen.
Dawnstar protected his daughter with his own body, and the flames were already consuming the hay bed of the cage itself. It was when she saw Cosmo approaching and looking at both, running toward the door and trying to break it somehow. That's when the tigress howled, calling her mate back. He approached the side and watched in amazement as the female feline wrapped the little female tiger's body with his mouth and handed it gently to her father through the hole through which the food was passed.
Cosmo held Brightstar firmly by the neck, tenderly and lovingly, being the first time he could touch his daughter. But his eyes were still fixed on Dawnstar, who looked at him as if begging him to save himself with the little tiger. The feline hesitated, he did not want to leave his companion behind, he loved her! It was when he saw tears streaming from the white tigress's eyes, and she then howled desperately for him to leave.
At that moment, a mooring mast of the circus canvas fell on fire, coming toward Dawnstar's cage. Cosmo only had time to jump to the side when the mast fell on the trailer, wrapping it fully in the flames. For a second, the tiger stood there, looking for some sign of her companion, but there was nothing more to do for her...
But he was still alive, and he had to do something to save himself and, especially, his daughter. Leaping through the fire, drifting away from the burning wreckage, and barely caring his feet burn in the ashes, he tried to get out of that hell. Suddenly he saw the stars in front of him, and he smelled the pleasant smell of pure, flowing air. Only a barbed wire fence separated him from the fields and forests that surrounded the grounds where the circus had settled.
Taking impulse, Cosmo jumped the fence and ran into the woods without looking back, only listening to the crackling of the flames and the screams of help from the humans as they tried to put out the fire. He only thought of running away, taking his daughter to safety, where neither fire, nor wind, nor humans could do harm to them. But the memory that Dawnstar was not at his side tormented his mind more and more as he raced through the woods, and he felt remorse for not being able to save her.
And the feline ran like never before in his life. He did not know where, and what to do for sure, after all he had always lived in the circus and had never learned to live in nature. Cosmo did not know how to hunt, did not know how to look for food, find water, he would just run, taking every possible precaution not to hurt his daughter while he carried her by the collar. Even when the sun was already high in the sky, he kept running, numb with pain and fear.
Only when he came across a stream of clear water did he stop to rest for a while, allowing Brightstar also to drink some water. The little tigress looked frightened, looking around in fear, taking uncertain steps across the grass and looking at her father as if she did not know if she could be trusted. Cosmo slowly approached his daughter and lay down in front of her, letting her approach him and sniff, before nestling beside him and rubbing his nose against his father's, demonstrating that he loved him too.
For some time the two stood there, and Brightstar amused himself by jumping on his father and playing with his tail. Cosmo hated when one of the handlers pulled him by the tail, but he did not mind letting his daughter play with his tail, if that made her happy. He took advantage of those hours to wet his paws in the water and lick his wounds, as well as catching his breath a little. But he knew they could not stay there forever, and soon he got to his feet, took the daughter by the collar gently nibbled on his lips, and went on his way, though he did not know where to go.
The day passed, and he found no water again, nor anything that could serve as food. It was already late in the evening, and the feline could hear the little tigress's stomach growl, as well as her own stomach. They were both hungry and thirsty again, and they needed to find somewhere safe to stay the night. Cosmo thought about it when he crossed a few bushes and stopped in surprise.
Before him was a large courtyard surrounded by some wooden buildings. The tiger took a step back and began sniffing the air, but there was no sign of humans in the area. Really, looking better, there were broken glass, cracked doors and tall bush in the area, demonstrating that for some time no one had been to that place. Even so, the tiger advanced slowly, trying to hide in the thicket, fearing to be an ambush.
It was when he accidentally tripped on an aluminum can, and several birds hiding in the thicket awoke and flew away. Cosmo felt his heart stop for a few seconds, and he was utterly paralyzed and with all his senses in the utmost attention, but then he realized that nothing had happened. There really were no humans in that place.
Slowly he made his way to the largest of the huts, up the four steps of the stairs, listening to the creaking wood, and entered a large room, full of shabby furniture and rotting remnants of food. Cosmo sniffed the scraps of food and turned his face in disgust, since there was no way to eat it. He carefully deposited Brightstar on a rug and lay around it to warm her, since it had been two days since they had eaten, and the night was icy.
The little tiger nestled next to her father and looked at him intently, seeming to be begging for food and water. Cosmo just lowered his head and licked the back of her neck, trying to show that everything was fine. But was not. He did not know how to get food or water, or how they would survive alone in the jungle. If Dawnstar were there at his side, to give him comfort and security...
Brightstar soon fell asleep, his head resting on her father's belly. As for Cosmo, he remained awake for some time before looking out a window and seeing the night sky. With a deep sigh and a yawn, the cat slowly rested its head on its front paws and stared at the stars. As they looked beautiful, eternal, their brightness defying the darkness only to reach the eyes of that sad and sleepy tiger, who soon fell asleep in peace...
Then he dreamed. He dreamed that he and his daughter were walking among those stars in the sky, that they could touch and rearrange the celestial bodies, who could travel from one star to the other in a tigrish leap, that they could play with the sun, moon and sky. And that in the midst of all those stars was Dawnstar, smiling at them cheerfully to see his daughter and the cheerful companion. Then she called them with a loving roar, and led them down a path of stars, across the galaxies of the universe, until the tigress was enveloped by a strong golden glow. Cosmo and Brightstar followed her without fear, and also entered that glow of light, seeing herself face to face with a special and magical being, who gazed at them gently as Dawnstar sat beside his, smiling.
- "Cosmo Heart Tiger, because of the great love and affection you have shown for your daughter, and for all the love you have felt for your mate, I will grant you a gift" - said the being of light, involving the tiger and the cub - "From today you will become cousins of the carebears, elected to be members of the Care Bear Family, where you will find the rest of your kind and a new mother and companion to you both".
And the light enveloped them completely, warming their hearts and their bodies tenderly, as if love had become something solid and visible...
Cosmo opened his eyes, his heart pounding. He had never dreamed something like that. In fact, he could not remember any dreams he'd had in his life, and that surprised him a lot. For a few moments he was silent, staring up at the ceiling, until he noticed something strange on his muzzle. His nose seemed to have changed in shape, and instinctively he lifted his paws to rub his nostrils.
In doing so, he was shocked to realize that his paws had turned into hands. They were still hairy and had a cushion in the palm area, but their fingers no longer had claws, and now he saw perfectly a strong thumb, like the humans, beyond the index finger, medium and pinkie finger.
- Hands? But what... Ah! - he began to say, before opening his eyes and covering his mouth with his new hands. He speaks! That was impossible, he had spoken just like humans!
Then he slowly unplugged his mouth and stood up, realizing that his whole body had changed. Although he still looked like a feline, with his white fur, golden stripes, tail, muzzle and ears, Cosmo also had human features, such as distinct arms and legs, erect spine, fingers and toes, as well as intelligence and speech. He also realized that he had diminished in size, but this did not seem to affect his strength and agility. This made the tiger paralyzed, gaping, not quite understanding what was happening.
It was then that he turned toward Brightstar, and saw that she was also changed, with feline and humanoid characteristics. She looked more like a human girl than a tiger.
- Brightstar... - he called out in a low voice, still trying to get accustomed to the fact that he could talk like the men - Brightstar. Wake up, daughter.
Slowly the little tigress shifted and opened her eyes, blinking a few times until she stared at her father with an expression of astonishment and rose as well.
- Dad? - she asked in a childish voice, before she was surprised that she could speak - Dad, I'm talking! I'm talking like a human!
- I know, my daughter, I am too! - said the tiger with a vaulted smile, still unsure of what I was feeling or thinking, since there were many new sensations occurring at the same time - Are you feeling well?
- Yes, I think so, but... What happened to us? Why are we both different? How do we learn to speak?!?
- I do not know, I remember just dreaming about your mother when a divine creature appeared and said she was going to give us a present. And then I woke up like this!
The little tigress looked toward her father, her eyes widening.
- I dreamed that, too - she murmured, gaping - We were playing with the stars in the sky with Mama, and there was a creature of light saying that you and I loved each other and were going to get a present...
Cosmo then realized that he and his daughter had had the same dream. But was it really a dream? He was not so sure anymore. Something had really happened to both of them as they dreamed, and now they were special.
The white tiger was still trying to reason right when he saw his daughter struggle to stand, like a human. On the first two attempts she staggered and fell down, but in the third she actually got to her feet, taking a few hesitant steps, getting used to feeling the floor with all the soles of her feet. This encouraged Cosmo to try too, and he leaned against the wall until he could also stand. But when she took the first step, she simply fell on her stomach, causing her daughter to laugh.
- That's funny, do it again! - she said cheerfully, before also falling down sitting, laughing at herself - Well... I think I still do not know how to walk like humans.
- But by the way, that's how we'll walk from now on - commented Cosmo, realizing that his spine was better suited to standing upright than horizontal - And whether humans can, so we can also, it's just a matter of training...
Brightstar nodded, struggling again to stand and take a few more steps, laughing with joy and feeling his heart explode in sensations and feelings.
- Look, Dad, I can jump on two legs! - said the little tiger, starting to leap happily, feeling more and more firm in the legs - Wow! This is so cool, I wish Mama was here to see me jumping.
- I... I also wanted to... - Cosmo agreed, feeling the smile die on his lips, while a pain without size invaded your heart and he lowered his head, remembering Dawnstar.
Though she kept jumping around happily, the little tigress noticed her father's sadness and looked at him in silence. She remembered the fire, and her mother had been trapped in the burning cage.
- Dad... What happened to Mama? - Brightstar asked in a low voice - Where is she now?
Cosmo felt his eyes fill with tears at that question, and he continued in silence and with his head bowed, not daring to look at his daughter for a moment. It was when he looked up at the stars in the sky and took a deep breath, feeling the emotion overflow from his chest.
- Come here, my daughter - he said, motioning for the little tigress to sit beside him at the window, and as soon as the young feline did so, he hugged her gently, pointing toward the night sky - Are you seeing the stars? Your mother is now one of them... The most beautiful and brilliant of all... And she is there now, watching us, smiling happily because we are alive and happy that we have received this gift... And she will always be there... And when you miss your mother then look at the stars, because she will also be looking at us... With all the love you have always felt for both of us...
Tears streamed down Cosmo's face as he said it, and he could not help the sobs of emotion from the depths of his chest. Brightstar, too, was crying, embracing her father, but glad to imagine that her mother had become a little star and would be there forever, looking at her at night. They could both feel the presence of Dawnstar at his side, and the tiger could even see the face of the companion in the midst of the stars. Then he and his daughter looked at each other and smiled before they hugged each other so that they could go back to sleep and dream, imagining what their new lives would look like from that moment and what adventures awaited them...
November 11, 2017.