When I was six, I slept in the room I shared with my 4-year-old sister, who slept in the bed against the opposite wall.
One morning, I opened my eyes to a mass of matted tawny hair.
What could it be?
The color and fullness reminded me of a lion’s mane.
I froze and stared at the tawny mass, racking my brains to think if it could be anything other than a lion.
To my increasing fear, I couldn’t think of anything else that possessed such a thick tawniness.
But how could a lion have gotten into my bed?
Very gingerly, I leaned back and sat up, then I carefully leaned forward to see what was on the other side of that tawny mane.
It was the face of my honey-blonde sister!
The relief that came whooshing through me on the heels of the intense fear and tension overwhelmed me and I started yelling, “What are you doing in my bed?! Get out of my bed!”
She woke up, blinking disorientedly. “What are you doing here?” she mumbled.
“I’m supposed to be here!” I said. “This is my bed!”
“No, it’s not,” she said. “This is my bed. You get out.”
The injustice of it all infuriated me. “NO! This is my bed! Look – ” I pointed across the room “– your bed is over there! See?”
Her brow wrinkled in sleepy confusion. She crossed her arms and glared at me.
Then our parents came in to see what all the ruckus was about. When they saw us, they burst out laughing.
I tried to plead my case regarding the terrible scare I had at waking up to find my lion-haired sister in my bed, but they just laughed and explained that she must have sleep-walked in the middle of the night, and that it wasn’t her fault.
“She probably just missed you,” explained my mom.
Alas, I was out for justice. “But I thought she was a lion!” I was almost crying. “Do you know what it’s like to wake up and think that there’s a lion in your bed?!” As far as I was concerned, such a fright must never happen again.
My parents cocked their heads and stared at me with bemused frowns while my sister looked disgruntled.
As all writers know, it’s not easy living with a wildly careening imagination (and I regret the indignation with which I woke my sleep-walking sister), but when that kind of imagination and emotion is channeled properly, it can make for some mighty good storytelling.