Birthday Sparklers

Birthday Sparklers by

John stood on his tiptoes to catch a glimpse of Max. “Will it be a simple experience for him?”

St. Peter smiled as he replied, “We make crossing the rainbow bridge as easy as possible for our animal friends. St. Francis, St. Rocco, and I have fine-tuned the process over the centuries. Max will be fine.”

John grew anxious as the time for Lucy’s birthday party approached. It wasn’t every day that their owner, John’s wife, turned 100, and while they couldn’t be by her side in her world, they could be by her side in John’s world.

Max arrived, and St. Peter brought him to John. Max jumped for 10 minutes as he recognized John and his canine friends, new and old. John gathered the pack and led them to where they could watch Lucy’s birthday celebration.

When Max saw Lucy, he was so excited, and he couldn’t stop jumping and barking. Patrick, the oldest pack member, who’d watched dozens of birthday celebrations, showed Max what he needed to do and how to behave. Everything was going well until the cake arrived.

John spied the sparklers on the birthday cake and hesitated. The dogs would be OK in this place, and the sparklers wouldn’t bother them. But memories of trying to find and calm scared dogs danced before his eyes.

“Try one more time, Gram; I’m sure they will stay lit this time.” Teddy comforted his grandmother.

His eldest grandson, Teddy, lighting the match to light the sparklers, struggled to get it to stay lit. Teddy would never know his grandfather was blowing them out once a spark appeared.

“John, you can let them go. Nothing scares dogs here.” John let the dogs free and watched as they settled around his wife’s wheelchair, looking up with adoring eyes. He knew she couldn’t see them; Lucy knew they were there; he could tell by her expression. The half-smile she wore when pleased.

“Teddy, if they don’t stay lit, don’t worry.” Lucy wiped a tear from her eye. “I’m surrounded by everything I could ever want.”




Colleen Cox has a Master’s in English and Creative Writing and an MFA from Southern New Hampshire University. She has spent years authoring stories, creating characters, and competing in NaNoWriMo’s. These activities solidified her desire to share her worlds, her characters, and her novels with the broader reading world.


Photo by Marina Utrabo



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