I wake up from a deep sleep. There is a lion lying beside me. As his face comes into focus he licks his nose and eyes me, much like my neighbor’s cat does. His mane is dull red framing a cat face of fine, tan fur that fills my entire field of vision. I’m between his paws, two on top of me two underneath, and I lay against his stomach and chest like an asteroid trapped in Jupiter’s gravity well. The body heat coming off of him is tremendous. I’m sweating.

I’m reasonably sure this lion was not there when I went to sleep last night. I don’t remember feeling my bed shift in the middle of the night. Strange. Being this close to a lion brings a bizarre mix of emotions.

I stare at the lion for a while. He yawns, sending a bubble of warm, moist air at my face. It doesn’t stink and it doesn’t help wake me up. It’s very much like cat breath. I like my neighbor’s cat. He has a cute face… Only likes to be petted and held when no one is looking… Maybe this lion wants to be petted and held now that no one is looking. I work my arm from under his paw and play with his nose with my index finger. He licks his nose again, getting my finger wet. It’s cute. Kitty definitely wants attention now, so I wrap my arm around his neck and dry my index finger on his mane. He licks my face with a coarse tongue as a humongous paw slides up my bare back, rests on my neck and hugs me tighter. I hug the lion back and pull him closer. His fine fur feels like a felt blanket on a cold winter morning. I want to wrap up in it and hibernate for a year.

This feels familiar… I start stroking the back of his neck through his mane. My hand slides down the length of his back and settles on his upper thigh. The lion seems to enjoy the contact and I wish I could get my other hand involved. He’s warm and soft, just like the stuffed animals I used to have as a kid. In a way I miss those things. I haven’t slept with a stuffed animal since I was six years old and it’s nice to have one in my bed again. I wish I could wake up next to lions more often. Waking up holding something fuzzy and soft is a comforting way to start a morning…

…this is how I wake up after parties. With a woman lying next to me and I’m so drunk I can’t even remember banging her. I must’ve been really drunk not to remember this lion. I don’t want to offend anyone I wake up next to and can’t remember going to bed with, so I kiss him on the mouth and snuggle closer to him. As my eyes close and I drift back to sleep, the lion’s hind paws draw me closer still and he tucks my head under his chin. The strong, cavernous sound of his breath is very relaxing. A warm, breathing, soft and muscular stuffed animal kitty. It’s even better than when I was a kid. I’m not sweating anymore. I’m grinning. This is cozy. It must’ve been a great night. I wish I could remember it. Maybe my mind will be clearer when I wake up.

"Lion in My Bed"

Copyright: © 2011 James Steele


James Steele is a writer in Ohio. He is often asked to sum up his life’s story in a single paragraph. James is very depressed by how easy this is. He has been published in the Magazine of Bizarro Fiction (issue 3), Roar v.3, Different Worlds Different Skins v.2, and Planet Magazine. His bizarre action/comedy novel, “Felix and the Sacred Thor,” is published through Eraserhead Press.

His blog is http://daydreamingintext.blogspot.com