In a dream last night, I saw a yellow kitty-cat — no, a lion cub! — among tall hills of trash in a dump. A fat man with a gun was aiming to shoot the cub, so I ran and swept it into my arms, prepared to block bullets with my body if need be.
The guy shouted, “You can’t protect it from me!”
I did, though. I got away to a semi-enclosed library in a depression between dusty hills scattered with scraggly plants.
I wondered uneasily where Mama Lion was, and whether I would die to her teeth and claws if she discovered me with her baby.
Then there she was. She seemed to understand, though: she came close and rubbed against me. Just as I was about to turn the cub over to her, the man with the gun reappeared.
Wondering how I could possibly protect a full-grown lion with my small frame, I attempted to gather Mama Lion into my arms, too. Easy: she turned into a plank of rough, light-colored wood the size of a very large shingle.
I held the cub between the plank and my chest, which further protected the cub and thus rescued the mother as well.
This time, I escaped the gunman for good.
By now, day was becoming night. The shingle morphed into a lion again and jumped out of my arms, now a black panther! We were still in a somewhat populated area, so I hoped any human children would be safe with these large predators on the loose. . . .
The cub was still yellow. I guessed it would darken with maturity.
I saw a road of ridged concrete slabs with a low wall curving down away from the left edge of a beach. A solitary man walked ahead, exuding peace. That was probably the safest way to go. I started down it.
The panther, though, veered through tall grasses over a dune and onto the beach proper, which was deserted and flat. I turned and pushed through a faint trail as well, breaking a large spider web, proud to find that I was okay with that. My draw to the panther superseded my fear of having an upset spider on me.
The panther padded into moonlight that shone across a small expanse from where the last wave had receded. Almost as though I could hear a voice narrating, I understood that the cat was establishing her domain, asserting and ascertaining that she was a land-thing and the water-things would stay in the water.
She came back to the dry sand and lowered herself to it, looking outward, absorbing. I thought she would make an amazing picture, black against the hazy moonlight on the water, but — oh, right — I had left my camera at home, or wherever I was staying. I patted the empty pockets of my loose, light-colored shorts. Well, not every time is a time for a picture.
The way the moonlight shone through some trees at the far side of the beach made the water and haze look like a small glowing girl-woman with long, black hair and a pale blue shift. Oh, wait — here’s my camera! And wait — was the girl me — my reflection? . . . I held up the camera.
The reflection didn’t have a camera. She continued smiling peacefully.
Was she connected to the panther somehow? Was she the panther’s reflection? Or mine somehow, albeit camera-less? Or was she an ocean spirit?
These are the things I wondered as I woke into this morning.