Jasper

Another day to dream.  Jasper purred in his sleep, a hand caressing his ginger fur. Peace painted his features, a sublime shade of stillness.

The cancer ward was quiet. Encloaked in private thoughts, the patients welcomed belief, invisible jewels of hope, shining silently in the morning sun.

Belief and hope, a cocktail of calm. Jasper continued to purr.

For some, belief was rewarded quickly, too quickly to be a coincidence. A new spring in the step as tumours reduced in size, cancer crawling away defeated, an old man who has lost the will to live, battered by belief and hounded by hope, chanting Go, Go.

In this ward, cancer came complete with a walking stick and cough medicine, a disease that grew in dementia, forgetting one by one the bodies it had claimed.

An experiment with multiple happy endings, Jasper slept peacefully on the ward as the patients dreamt of health … and gradually found their wishes granted.

He was a miracle cat. That’s what the nurses called him. Every patient, same result. Coming to Thornton Hospital was curing them. There was no radical new treatment. Only a cat, grateful for the attention, appreciative of hugs, and silent to his clinical skill.

A scientific experiment in feline shades of affection. The results were inconclusive, but there could be no doubt of the cancer remission rate on the ward. If not the cat, then what? Cancer scientists from around the globe descended on the hospital, touching the miracle cat with awe, as if he might break.

As the patients returned home, the image of the cat was ingrained in their brain. Many could not forget, and visited their local animal shelter, leaving with a ginger cat. They might not all be special, but a new pet could do no harm.

Jasper saw many people come and go. His mind was mute with memory, so many images, so many confusing faces over the years.

He purred one day in his sleep louder than normal, as if singing to the ward. Then all was silent, as the patients slept to a song that had ended.

They could still hear him, in their dreams. In the morning a nurse found Jasper, a frozen purr on his lips. The cancer hero had purred his last.

The vet who performed the autopsy had never seen such a case. It was as if the cat had cancer of every organ, so widespread was it, a cruel disease that had claimed all but his heart. The cat of miracles had met his match. Another night to dream, another hour to hope of a better day. The cancer survivors stroked their new pets, as they fell asleep to a song from the past. In their hearts, a soft purr lingered.

By Rachel H Grant

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