Fear roamed the streets in the form of a pack of starving lions. Ribs quivering, tails dragging, they stalked the shadows in search of easy prey. Their yellow eyes scanned the alley ways and doorways, searching for the hesitant ones, the ones who needed to rise from the two-step in front of their apartment and live a new life, but instead remained glued to the spot, lost in the hypnotic gaze of future worries. The starving lions sniffed out the ones just about to get up and make a change, and slunk in front of them and sat on their haunches, and stared them back down. But the people did not see starving lions; they saw the forms of those they knew ready to tell them that they were crazy, that they would never make it, and that they were not good enough. They took the forms of images of failure and destitution, and the more the people let those images stalk their minds, the more the starving lions feasted on their dreams, devouring them with gleeful fervor. One of the lions of fear glided towards a child who wanted to leap into a pile of crisp, red and orange leaves, but was too afraid of getting bit by a tick to actually jump in. He stood there hating himself for having such obsessive fears. He heard the voices of his parents in his head telling him all about the horrors of Lyme’s disease and deer ticks, yet he always wanted to play in the leaves. The sky was crystal clear and blue and the leaves glowed like a pile of treasure. The lion brushed passed the boy’s legs and licked its lips, about to gorge itself on the boy’s dreams of playing in the leaves. And then it happened. The boy looked the lion straight in the eyes. The lion blinked. No one had ever done that before. People weren’t supposed to see fears for what they really were. This boy was staring back, and, much to the shock of the lion was smiling. The boy took a step towards the lion. The lion snarled. The boy laughed and then tussled the lion’s greasy mane. The lion was incredulous, and yet it felt something surge within its ribs—something alive. The boy had had enough of not living the life he always dreamed of. “I can do a tick-check,” he thought, and turned from the lion and leapt into the leaves in a huge, splash of autumn glory. He laughed with joy and when he looked at the lion it was no longer a starving, rib-exposed ghost. It was golden. It was majestic and the form of bravery itself. It let out a roar of triumph that sent the approaching pack of starving lions scattering like mice. The boy dove back into the leaves laughing, and then popped his head up blowing a yellow leaf from his face. The leaf sailed and settled onto the lion’s head like a little crown. “Come on in!” the boy shouted. The lion smiled, flicked his tail, twitched its ears, and then roared, leaping into the pile and rolling with the boy like a puppy, happy to be truly full, truly alive, truly itself.
Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog