Thursday, July 06, 2006

TAMRAEL, or DREAM LEOPARDS

Doctor, I have a confession to make. When I was a child, I did actually have an imaginary friend. I don't think of him as a very conventional imaginary friend, though, which is why I think he didn't come to mind when you asked me the other day.

I hadn't forgotten him.

I just hadn't brought him up. I'm not sure why. I probably should have told you earlier.

Ten or eleven, I suppose.

He is a leopard. Maybe that sounds juvenile, but he wasn’t like a cartoon or a Disney character. He wasn’t a kitten. He was as real as I could imagine at that age. Probably more so.

I mean he was sleeker, softer, smarter than any physical leopard could be. Not bigger, exactly. He wasn’t any bigger than his counterparts in Africa, but he had a quiet strength about him that a real animal would never have.

There was never anything brutish about him. The difference between him and a real leopard was like the difference between cashmere and flannel. His spots perfectly accentuated slim lines, curves, musculature. His head was long, narrow, almost exaggeratedly feline, but never cartoony. His eyes were a deep green. I remember seeing the ocean in them.

I don’t know.

Tamrael.

No, he didn’t tell me. Leopards can’t talk. I just knew it. I never talked to him. He’d let me stroke him. I’d wrap my arms around his neck and bury my face in his fur. He slept nearby. All this, but I never said a word to him. Words weren’t needed. I communed with him, doctor, like you might imagine doing with some sort of god. People use the word ‘god’ so much now that it doesn’t mean anything at all. Now, ‘worship’ is held every Sunday, Wednesday. Worship doesn’t have any to do with the regimented song-and-dance routine it’s become. Real worship is something that can’t be denied in the presence of true divinity. It isn’t something people can give and take at their leisure.

Mostly he’d come to visit when I was alone. He was dangerous, but shy, so he’d almost never come around when someone was there.

Well. Perhaps when I’d come home from school and go to my room. My mother never let me decorate it to my tastes so it was always familiar but kind of weirdly foreign at the same time. When he would come, I could hear him padding into the room. Just his mere presence would be like the annunciation of strength.

That’s how I would describe him. He was a power unsubdued by anyone except himself. He was self-created and self-containing. His claws were sharp and real, his teeth white and long, like violent phalli. Even when he wasn't there, I could feel him lurking on the boundaries of consciousness, just on the other side of the visible.

Of course he was. He was a predator, but that predation excluded me. I remember lying on my bed with him next to me, ready to tear to pieces the slightest transgressor of my sanctuary. When I cried, his fur swallowed my tears. Whenever I looked into his eyes, I could see them looking back at me. He swallowed them until I didn’t have any left.

Yes, that’s usually when he’s there. He’s my silent protector.

A part of me always wanted to be him, to be able to do that for myself.

I doubt it.

He was always something different than me. I know because I don’t have that kind of strength inside.

I’ve told you many times that I don’t believe in anything beyond the physical, doctor. No heaven or hell, no supernatural occurrences, nothing like that. Just objects in motion, actions and reactions, on/off, etc. So I know that Tamrael wasn’t actually real.

He no longer visits me, although leopards figure prominently in my dreams. None of the dream leopards are Tamrael. Each one might only be a pale imitation, but sometimes I’ll see part of him reflected in one. An ear, a tail. Never his eyes, though.

No.

He isn’t real, doctor, but I’ll tell you, and I never tell anyone else this, but he is realer to me than you are. Even though when I think about him, I only recall a memory of something unreal, it still gives me a strength that I need.

He left one night while I slept, creeping from the forefront of my mind into some deeper recess in my psyche.

Maybe it sounds crazy, but he still means more to me than this, right now, this moment or the next. I’m sure that I will continue chasing him through many dreams to come.

Perhaps.

I never intimated that his actions were within my control.

2 Comments:

Blogger The Clown said...

excellent piece... Just curious... What is it that keeps you from putting a title to your posts? Smile.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:16 AM  

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