Latte's Heavenly Home
by Janet Slike
(Dublin, OH, USA)
The tornado that whisked Latte up to heaven whipped her milk into a foamy milkshake and made her hair stick straight up. She didn't mind. She was on a great adventure. So were Chocolate and Skim from the farm.
I travel way up here and I still can't escape those bores, thought Latte.
Latte placed her hoof on the shoulder of the angel at the computer. "Where's my name?"
"Don't look at the screen! Turn around! I found your name."
"Are those two on the list?"
"Yes. The Great Inventor is proud of you. You were curious. Skim was kind. Chocolate was a good mother. Go to Cloud 8."
Suddenly the cows sprouted wings. "Who is the Great Inventor?" Latte asked.
"He created the earth and the clouds. He loves to create for us. Every night Farmer Fischer prayed to the Great Inventor for kind friends and tall crops. That's what he got," said Chocolate.
"Will we meet the Great Inventor? Should I wear a bow?" asked Skim.
"Don't fuss about that. Let's find our home," said Chocolate.
They passed cloud neighborhoods. Each cloud had a golden flagpole with a numbered flag.
All bugs lived on the number 1 clouds. Latte heard bumblebees singing opera. She saw worms wiggle blissfully through chocolate pudding, instead of dirt.
"Where are the cows?" asked Skim.
"Didn't you listen? They're on the number 8 clouds," said Latte.
Latte saw all horses on the number 2 clouds. Each day they raced in the Kentucky Derby, then pranced through carrot tree forests on their way to the sugar cube mountains.
Birds swooped and soared over the number 3 clouds. The dodos were professors, penguins flew and the turkeys feasted on Thanksgiving.
They flew too close to a number 4 cloud and were soon sticky from honey raindrops.
"Sorry about that!? shouted a brown bear, then he tilted back his head and stuck out his tongue. The bears didn't hibernate in heaven, so they enjoyed winter activities. They did triple axels on the ice, built snowmen, and decorated the pines with popcorn strings.
"Are we home yet?" asked Skim.
"Halfway, dear," said Chocolate.
They saw an odd sight on the number 5 clouds: sheep sat in elegant beauty parlors getting new hairdos in bright colors.
"They look better than they did on the farm after being sheared," said Skim.
All the elephants on the number 6 clouds swung by their trunks from huge tree to huge tree. Lady elephants never wrinkled and found beautiful ballgowns in their size.
All dogs went to number 7 clouds. Golden retrievers played fetch all day. Pit bulls relaxed with yoga. Chihuahuas were brave superheroes.
Latte, Skim, and Chocolate landed on a number 8 cloud.
"The Great Inventor thought of everything!" said Skim when she saw the silken bows and brass cowbells in her closet.
"The bows are all blue," said Latte. "They are all tied the same way."
"Yes, they're perfect," said Skim.
"I could tie two of them together and make a rosette. Or I could dye them different colors. Or I could.."
"Stop! Why must you always want to change things? Can't you be happy?" Chocolate asked.
"Changing things into new things makes me happy." Latte replied.
They saw the fabled cloud 9 neighborhood in the distance. And cats lived there!
"Those are the best clouds," said Skim.
"Figures! Cats got the best stuff on Earth too!" Latte said.
"Don't complain. Let them enjoy their cloud and we'll enjoy ours." said Chocolate.
Latte stared at the Moo-neigh paintings on her stall wall. She moved the paintings from one wall to the next, but she still wasn't happy with the look.
Latte prayed that she could move to Cloud 9.
"Let's talk about your prayer. Meet me on Cloud 1000," a note on her wall read the next morning.
But Latte didn't know how to get there.
Latte heard a voice say, "Follow your heart and you'll find me." She landed on Cloud 1000 and followed a weedy path to a log cabin. The Great Inventor was tinkering with gears, lightbulbs, and wires.
"What's that going to be?" Latte asked.
"I'll know when I'm done," said the Great Inventor. "Why do you want to move to Cloud 9?"
"It's the best."
"Each cloud is the best for the animals that live there. You are the first to complain."
"May I please move?"
"Of course. Enjoy your new home."
Latte and the Great Inventor finished the invention, then Latte whooshed through the air. She landed outside her palace on Cloud 9. Her neighbors, Siesta and Fiesta, prowled over. "You are not a cat," said Siesta. "Why would you deserve to live here?"
"The Great Inventor said it was OK."
They grew catnip in rows as straight as lollipop sticks. No weeds grew in their gardens, but no daffodils did either.
"We could put a maple tree here, and a fountain there," said Latte.
"No! Everything is perfect. Go take a nap."
Latte returned to the cabin. "The cat's cloud isn't for me. But the cow's cloud isn't either. Where can I go?"
"You could move to cloud 10," the Great Inventor suggested.
"Cloud 10! It's better than cloud 9?"
"Not better, just different"
Latte flew to an empty cloud. She sewed a 10 on her flag. She built a 5-story octagonal barn. She sent invitations by dove mail to her barn-raising party.
Some animals came from every cloud. Most politely drank some punch, then returned home. The artistic animals stayed and created a cloud with everything they could imagine They were proud of their home.
Latte, for the first time, mooed in heaven.
Latte thanked the Great Inventor for letting her create her perfect home. Then she thought of her home on Earth and of Farmer Fischer. "If he's lonely, create the perfect friends for him," she prayed.
The Great Inventor listened and answered the prayer. On Farmer Fischer's farm, three new cows were born. Farmer Fischer named them Cream, Mocha, and Shake. One was curious, one was kind, and one will someday be a good mother.