It was a day unlike any other, the morning stillness interrupted only by the occasional flutter of the wings of a preening bird, hidden in the shadowy branches of a large juniper…
      The little boy glanced up and peered intently into the tree, to try and find the bird, searching, craning his neck until he finally spotted his quarry… A tiny smile parted his lips, his eyes twinkled with delight… The boy loved to pretend that he was a stealthy animal, maybe a fox, perhaps even a cougar; that would be even more delightful… NOBODY bothered cougars! Today, Matty thought, I am a cougar, strong and sleek and clever, with sharp claws and long fangs that would rip into flesh and crush bone when the time came…
     Now, the morning sky grew brighter as the first warming rays of the sun pierced the dawn mist, capturing the pointy tops of the neighborhood trees and christening them with a golden luminescence, banishing the scary shadows of the night and calling to life the creatures of  it’s morning kingdom…
    The boy shivered, and rubbing the goosebumps on his arms,  slowly walked towards the beckoning pool of light that  cascaded through an opening in the surrounding trees. This was now his kingdom, and all that inhabited it were his subjects… He found the center of the lake of gold and stood there a moment, feeling the warming rays of light caress his bare arms and his long, tanned legs. He looked around, surveying the area for more signs of life, but saw nothing but the shuddering leaves of the tiger lillies, as a soft breeze winded it’s way through the fronds, giving them a mysterious lifelike appearance.
     Nervously, Matty looked at the still shadowy part of the scape and tried to imagine what might  be hiding in the leftover darkness. He lingered in the light for a moment, and then, feeling a little scared, scooted to his left, to the safety of his favorite tree, an ancient towering oak, with a magic hollow at the base into which only a little boy, or perhaps a cougar, could fit, hidden from view… He crouched in the musty cave and a low growl rumbled from his throat, and slowly grew louder, until it was more like a snarl; enough, he thought, to scare the leftover demons of the night away…
     It was about then that the boy felt the familiar ache in his stomach… He wrapped his arms around his belly, and leaned foward, the pain overtaking him, and then, burying his face between his legs, he started to cry. Through trembling lips, he started to chant, over and over, the same word- no,no,no…  He put his hands on his ears and tried to stop the words and voices, and thoughts, that were now overtaking him. He growled, shaking his head, back and forth, commanding the demons to leave, but it didn’t work… He felt the hands now, again, pulling him, twisting him, holding him, tearing at his clothes, gripping his bare flesh until he was suffocating and speechless, and his face became like stone, his thoughts now far away, to the places he hid, the places of safety… He stayed there stunned, transfixed, in the past and the present, lost in himself…
     He stopped trembling now, and uncovered his eyes. The morning light now reached across the entire field, drenching and scorching everything in it’s path…Matty reached back and pushed himself out of the damp confines of his secret hideaway, and stood up. He felt slightly queasy, and steadied himself, clutching the rough furrowed bark of the giant oak with his small hand, until the wave of unease passed. Reaching back to his face, he tried to wipe the tears away, but they were gone and only little streaks of dirt remained.
      A squirrel  chattered above him, announcing his presence, the alert spreading to the awakened jays not far away, somewhere behind him. The boy looked around and walked towards the safety of his house, feeling the warm wetness in his pants, the shame overtaking him… He ran the last part of the journey, his mind racing and the loneliness of yesterday returning, his banished enemy from the land of unspoken things… of unknown, unchildlike horrors, and dreams best left for others….

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