The Donkey And The Lion

He looked a little like Golom, from The Lord of the Rings, or maybe Yoda from Star Wars, but he was completely black. He was permanently hunched over, like his spine was molded to the inside of a crescent moon. His skin was dark and scaly like a snake’s, his eyes were glowing a dull yellow-brown, and his pupils were as narrow as a cat’s. Read here for more details. He sat clinging to the foot of my bed, watching me with his glowing eyes. In the darkness, I could make out his eery silhouette against he moonlit window behind him.

He had been there every night for the past month. The first night, I had started screaming. My parents had come in and assured me that nothing was there– even though I could see his eyes following me the entire time. They simply couldn’t see him, and told me to ignore it and go back to bed. The second night, I had tried to talk to him, but he just hissed and growled at me, mumbling sharp words in a language I’d never heard before. The third night, I tried to move him, but the moment I laid a finger on him, my skin started to burn. I couldn’t touch him without searing pain. After the first week, I gave up trying to get rid of him. I left him there, staring at me for hours as I tried to sleep.
When he was there, I felt a bit odd, like I had misplaced something. I kind of felt a hole in my mind. I named him Eeyore, because he seemed to be eternally depressed. His depression was a little contagious, too–I found myself crying as I fell asleep for no apparent reason. It was uncomfortable to have him there, but I couldn’t think of anything else to do about him. No one else could even see him.
My mother left us one month after Eeyore’s arrival. My parents had both been on edge for several weeks, with regular screaming matches and arguments. Mom decided she’d had enough. She hugged me goodbye and gave me her new phone number, crying as she packed several bags. When my father came home from work, she kissed him goodbye and walked out the door. I was useless for the rest of the evening, but I hadn’t started crying until I crawled into bed. The feelings of emptiness and depression that Eeyore brought were twice as strong as they usually were.
That night as I waited for sleep to come, Eeyore snuck closer to the head of the bed. I couldn’t feel his weight from under the sheets. Perhaps he weighed nothing. But I could sense him getting closer. As I shifted onto my side, I felt him inching his way up behind my back. I held completely still, with small tears still running down my cheeks, and tiny sobs and whimpers echoing out of my throat.
“It was your fault, you know.” Eeyore spoke in a hissing, rough voice, but it was in English. This was the first time I had ever heard him speak so I could understand. “You are such a terrible daughter, to let them get so mad at one another.”
“It wasn’t me! I had nothing to do with it!” He was sitting behind me now, probably just on the other side of my pillow.
“Oh, but you did! You saw what was happening! You didn’t stop it.” His hoarse voice sounded less and less human as he continued to speak.

“I didn’t stop it. I’m sorry. There was nothing I could do!” More tears filled my eyes, and I closed them tightly. “I wanted to, I wanted to stop them!”

“But you didn’t! Shameful little girl! You made this happen!” I felt a creeping feeling around my neck, as if I was being suffocated excruciatingly slowly.

“How could I have stopped anything? What should I have done?”
“If you had loved your parents, you would have found a way to keep them together!”
“I DO LOVE THEM!” I screamed. I knew my dad could hear me from two rooms away, but I didn’t care. I was suddenly consumed with shame and guilt–How could this have happened? Why couldn’t I stop it? I should’ve have done better! I should’ve stepped in–told them to stop arguing! But I didn’t. Eeyore was right–I’m a terrible excuse for a daughter. “I love them, and I’m sorry! I’m so completely sorry.” I was heaving sobs.
“But that’s not enough! You have to make up for your mistakes! Make it up to your mom and dad! You have let them down, and you must fix it!” Eeyore croaked.
“I wish I could’ve done better! I wish that I–“
“Wishes won’t save you now, will they? Wishes and apologies are useless! How can you even look at yourself in the mirror, you wretched child?”
“Stop! I–I didn’t do anything wrong! I don’t owe them at all! They didn’t break up because of me! I know it!” I had to fight back. I should have gotten rid of Eeyore the moment I laid eyes on him.
Why have I let him stay so long? He’s lying to me! He’s trying to make me feel inferior. Just like in The Princess Diaries, where Joe told Mia that no one could make her feel inferior without her consent. It’s not my fault! “You’re wrong! There’s nothing I should’ve done!”
A burst of light suddenly pierced through the darkness of my room as soon I realized Eeyore had been manipulating me. All the sadness immediately faded, and the heartache that I had been feeling had vanished. For the first time in hours, I was able to take a long, deep breath. My eyes were still a little raw, but the fear and guilt were gone. It’s not my fault!

I felt like a two-hundred pound weight had been resting on my chest, and it was suddenly lifted. As I opened my eyes to the light and sat upright, I saw a man appear by my bedroom door. He was wearing a white, silk robe and seemed to emanate light. He had such a peaceful, loving smile that it was impossible not to feel joyous just looking at him. He kind of floated into the room like a ghost, scanning the room as he came. As soon as his eyes rested on Eeyore, his face turned ferrel. He let out a lion’s roar that sounded like Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia, and began to advance on a cowering Eeyore. For a moment, I thought he actually turned into a lion as he attacked the creature that had plagued me for the last month, but I didn’t get a good look because he disappeared. Both Eeyore and the Man of Light had gone, and I was left feeling strangely serene. As I lay back down, relieved and a bit shaken, I tried to comprehend what had just happened. I turned over onto my side again, starting to think back to my mother and feeling the bitterness and heartache, but not the guilt anymore. The was no more shame, just peacefulness.
I laid there for several more hours, reflecting on the man who had attacked Eeyore as soon as I realized what he was doing. He had just come in and killed him, or forced him out. Where did he come from? And where had Eeyore come from? These questions kept me up into the morning, but as soft sunlight began to filter in through my plain white curtains, the Man of Light came back. I couldn’t see him, but I felt that overwhelming happiness and peace that I had felt as he walked into my room hours before. Just as I had sensed Eeyore getting closer to me, I felt the Man of Light crawl into the bed next to me. He wrapped his enormous arms around my shoulders, even though one shoulder was buried in my mattress. As all the feelings of happiness and peace overwhelmed me and I couldn’t think about anything else, I was able to rest. As the early hours of the morning grew into late hours, I fell asleep–completely at peace with everything that had happened the day before, and with the most satisfying sleep that I’d ever had. I was gently wrapped in the arms of the Man of Light as he whispered “I’ve got you, and I won’t let him hurt you again.” Into my ear.

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