Two of Every Animal

“Can you please pass the gravy?” It was a rule at the Bear house that nobody eats until Granny Bear gets her gravy. Everyone around the table just hungrily waits for her to get settled in. They even take bets on how long it will take. Junior Bear had a nickel on it happening right after the meal’s prayer and now he has one fewer nickel in his piggy bank.

The Turtles were the guests of honor tonight and the whole Bear family from across the town turned up to share a meal with the neighborhood’s most popular residents. There was just something about them that was appealing. Something slow. Something steady.

The cubs had their own table. Almost identical to the adult’s table, just smaller and stickier. The three cubs were sneaking a few blueberries from the centerpiece just as Mr. Bear got up to welcome everyone to his humble home with one of his long sentimental speeches he had a reputation for delivering.  

“I’m so glad that we could all join together here tonight. It’s not everyday that I can manage to get my whole family under one roof. And with the addition of you, Mr. and Mrs. Turtle, the night feels complete. Please, make yourselves at home…”

Before Mr. Bear could finish sharing his thoughts of love and thanksgiving, the room filled with a blinding light and the dinner party guests trembled in fear. Then with a loud roar of trumpets, God appeared before them.

“Hey, guys. Sorry to interrupt. Do you mind if I talk to Mr. and Mrs. Bear for a second? It won’t take long.”

The guests obliged. Who were they to say no? This wasn’t a telemarketer calling in the middle of a meal. This was God. And they were bears and turtles. They’ll gladly defer to the omniscient on this one. The three of them left for the kitchen to speak privately. It felt like being taken to the principal’s office. Only this was their kitchen, and He wasn’t a principal, he was the Creator of All.

“Can I get you something to eat or drink?” asked Mrs. Bear out of an inherent hospitality reflex. He politely declined and began to describe the situation that brought him here today.

A buzz immediately began to rise up in the dining room next door as the guests tried to come up with any explanation as to why God would be here. Right now. With the Bears?! Sure, Mr. and Mrs. Bear were good people but they hardly went to church every week.

“I hope they’re not in trouble.” said Mrs. Turtle, before realizing that wasn’t very reassuring to the anxious cubs directly to her left. “They’re probably just old friends catching up” she noted, trying to redeem herself.

Junior wasn’t buying it and hopped up to get a closer look and a closer listen. With his little ear pressed up against the thin dividing door, he could now hear everything with an uncanny clarity. It was a little surprising that the whole house couldn’t hear the booming voice of God emanating from the kitchen.

“I’ve chosen you two to survive the great flood on Noah’s ark. You’ll leave tomorrow and start a new family when the waters recede.”

“A NEW FAMILY?!” Junior couldn’t contain his emotions and now the whole party is in on the secret plan to save Mr. and Mrs. Bear and leave the rest of them to die. Presumably God knew this would happen. But it still felt like a mess. Mr. and Mrs. Bear, followed by God, reentered the dining room to address the flood-sized elephant in the room. They were met with an impossible mixture of uproar and silence.  As God provided context and tried to explain his position on choosing Mr. and Mrs. Bear things went from bad to worse.

“Him? He shits in the woods! I’ve seen it. I should go instead,” said Junior’s uncle, attempting to throw his own brother under the bus. And, incidentally offering to procreate with his brother’s wife at the same time. Two pretty big no-nos in any community. He wasn’t the only one with objections. Each Bear in the room had perfectly valid reasons why they should be chosen over Mr. and Mrs Bear. And they expressed those valid reasons loudly and with desperation and vigor. If it wouldn’t take so long to reach the door, the Turtles probably would have left by now to escape the tension.

Instead, Mr. Turtle sensing opportunity, graciously volunteered him and his wife to be the two turtles to go with Noah. Unfortunately, God had just finished offering the spot to the other Turtles on the block. He actually knocked on Mr. and Mrs. Turtle’s door first, but since they weren’t home—they were here—he had to move on. He apologized for forgetting about the dinner party, but it fell on deaf ears. The uproar was finally over, but the silence grew roots and planted itself in the Bear’s rustic dining room.

“I’ll let you guys get back to dinner. Sorry again for interrupting. Just to reiterate before I go, Mr. and Mrs. Bear are the ones that get to live but I still love all of you. Ok, bye!”

As he left, nobody spoke. Some bites of food were eaten, but not for sustenance—just to fill the void. After several minutes of bewildered silence, it started to dawn on the others that this was the last dinner party they’d ever have to attend. That brought a pleasant calm across the room in that moment and they remembered, God is good.

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