The Tiger

 

The sanctity of my dreams were often interrupted. I could feel a clenching in my chest as my mind began to swarm; a melody of thought crashing against one another. But amidst the “It doesn’t truly matter”‘s and the “It’s too late”‘s, I cold hear the sound I dreaded most breakthrough. I snaked my arm from it’s lost comfortable position to tap the home button of my phone.

“One a.m.,” I mumbled quietly, as not to wake my younger brothers who slept across the room. I winced at the sound of sharp claws clacking against the hard wood floor. I peeked over my shoulder. There was a tiger across the room, pacing at the doorframe. It bared it’s teeth in snarl, it’s tail swaying. I tried to tear my eyes away, but to no avail. It paced in a small circle for a brief moment before leaving my line of sight. It was a few moments before my erratic heartbeat slowed to it’s normal pace. My breath no longer came out in short fast huffs. I couldn’t hear it’s claws against the floor anymore wither. I rolled onto my side to try and submerge myself into my dreams once again.

A few days went by, and I saw neither hide nor hair of the tiger. But on occasion, I could hear it’s claws. As I walked along the sidewalk, I could hear claws scrapping against the rough pavement. I kept my hands in the pockets of my jacket, even though it was in the middle of June and sweat began to form. I looked up from my feet as I walked. There were several different people walking along the sidewalk as well. May of them were men. I tried to take a deep breath, but felt it hitch when I saw a group of men in the path that I had to walk while simultaneously feeling the tiger’s nose brush against my lower back. I took my phone out an went to the music app. It drowned out all of my senses; I didn’t pay attention to the group of men and any sound from the tiger was gone.

The trek home was a peaceful one, with the melodies soothing my shot nerves. As the night went on, I heard the claws again. I set my laptop down and looked in the direction of the sound. Instead of pacing the tiger sat. Its head was tilted to the side. I looked back down at my laptop to see that I had opened Google. I typed in the word “anxiety”. The tiger stalked toward me, but it’s snarl wasn’t present. It stopped by me legs and rested it’s head on the couch cushion beside me. I focused on the screen as I scrolled through different forms. I glanced down at the tiger and rubbed its head. I got no reaction and continued to scroll. Time rolled on without my notice. By the time a spared a glance at the clock I saw that it was already late. As I got ready for bed, the tiger laid close to my bed. My brothers went to their beds without so much as a glance at the tiger. I laid in my own bed. For a few moments I could hear the tiger stir beside me. When my breathing became labored, the tiger would shift in its place. When I balled my fists, the tiger would sit up a snarl forming on its face. I closed my eyes and took deep breathes and even counted to ten. The tiger’s movements stilled and I drifted off to sleep.

Years have gone by, and I see the tiger on rare occasions; during a speech for college, I could see the tiger in the crowd lurking between my classmates. But each time the tiger came too close or got too aggressive, I would close my eyes and take deep breathes. When I opened my eyes again, the tiger would still be there. Bur it would sit, quiet and almost pensive.

 

(This was just a short story that came into my mind after a dream I had where a tiger would follow me everywhere I went.)

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