Once upon a time there was a little girl who read too many books. She loved sitting somewhere cosy and sheltered, a book in her lap, weaving together the meaning of strange words and images of even stranger worlds. She visited places in her mind others haven’t even heard of insisting she’d have too many fantasies of how things were and that she’d never be able to deal with reality. She laughed about them together with that dark brown thing beside her with its black beady eyes. It was furry and sometimes grumpy but most of the time it laid there curled up at her feet, listening to the stories she read in her mind. It heard each and every word she read silently and felt each and every emotion she felt. Whenever she was scared it licked her hand and although its breath smelled like dead things she liked it because she knew it cared about her a lot. Sometimes it disappeared for a while and came back with bruises and she nursed it back to health. Sometimes she sang for it and it laid its head in her lap and listened to her songs with its eyes half closed. She wasn’t a good singer but it still loved that she cared about it. She never gave it a name because she didn’t think that it was her place to do so. Things have their own names, no one is allowed to rename them, she thought. And so they she grew older and older and they inhabited a space between the worlds.
As time went by, things changed. Losses, loves, things in the real world demanded her attention and she forgot about the thing and that other world for a while. She forgot about the songs she used to sing to it, about the books she read with her heart, about the images she had been painting with her mind. She grew up and thought for a while that the real world was enough. The thing had grown quiet as it didn’t want to bother her with its loneliness. It kept waiting for her each day closing its eyes with her image in its mind and opening them again with her laughter in its heart. It still didn’t have a name and couldn’t care less about it. Only this feeling of void bothered it a bit, that slightly aching part of it that it didn’t understand but seemed to be tied quite closely to her image.
Christmas had been a bit of a challenge for some time and she was sitting at home, close by a fireplace with a book on her lap. Something she hadn’t done in a while. Some vague image came into her mind about a child that was cuddled up in a brown mass of fur that kept her warm and murmured some things back as she read a story to it within her mind. Something seemed to be very familiar about this image in her heart as she fell asleep to the cracking sound of the fire.
The dream came with a warning or the warning within a dream, she never knew the distinction afterwards. Something told her to paint the image she had been carrying with her for a while now, some strange letters in familiar colors, a language not spoken on earth for some time. She woke up shortly with a warm feeling of reassurance in her heart and fell asleep again feeling watched over. The next thing she knew that she was being told about the waves of sounds that would descend on her in short time. She should lay down flatly on the floor and try to breathe as it would be something penetrating into each and every cell of her body. She agreed because she was curious.
The first thing she saw was a being in colors and of a shape that her brain didn’t recognize from the real world. It was simply not designed to process the look of it as her physical body didn’t have a blueprint for its parts but at least she got a vague idea of its essence as it appeared before her not being solid but changing in strange colors and shapes she didn’t know yet. Other beings appeared and some of them remotely resembled animals but then again not. What she recognized instantly though was the thing that had been waiting for her for so long. She immediately acknowledged it as her companion although she also got the feeling that it had grown more wild since she had left it. It seemed to be a bit confused first as it saw her but eventually it recognized her as well. However, for the first time she saw its fangs which were those of a predator. Still brown fur everywhere, still those beady eyes but also something fierce in them that made her wonder whether it would tear her apart. It stopped in front of her and sniffed at her fingers. Cautiously it licked over her hand and finally she was able to touch its head. The fur was a bit felted and it seemed to have scars that hadn’t been able to heal yet but she knew it still felt the connection as did she.
They didn’t have a lot of time as the wave was about to come. For the first time in all those years she saw the thing tremble to the core. Hastily she pressed her body to the ground as she had been told before and the thing curled up itself at her feet. She felt it shivering and gazed at its jaws open wide with those fangs in it. For a second she thought it might tear her apart right there but then she felt wind coming up and quickly covered her ears.
What was about to follow wouldn’t be written in any book. A wave of sound washed away over her penetrating every layer of her body separately, almost disrupting the cells she was made of. She felt a burning sensation and heard a cacophony of voices/noises that made her tremble and almost fall apart. It was not the thing that would finally tear her apart she thought. It was like nothing she had ever been able to even imagine. Words failed, the noises, the shapes and lights became one fabric that covered her being inside and outside. And at the very moment she thought that she’d just stop existing something told her to focus for a second and she did. The wave stopped. The noises stopped. The pain of being torn apart stopped. The only thing that remained was a single tune. She listened to this single tune for a while enchantedly. Then she fell back into the fabric of the cacophony she had been in before. The thing was still curled up at her feet, its fur comforting her. The difference now was that she knew she wouldn’t be torn apart and that it was always her decision how much of this she would take.
She woke up in a daze but with the reassurance in her heart that had been gifted to her and the memory of the thing’s fur and tongue on her hand. From that day on none of them ever felt lonely again and she knew what work had to be done in the upcoming year.