The evening was soft and warm, a cool breeze sent a slight shiver across Gianna’s shoulders. It had been too warm in the bed and she had decided to go for a short walk around the park. She wore only a loose night shirt but it could pass for a summer cover up. The moon spread a pale light through the leaves of the trees making it seemed like twilight instead of 2 AM. I hate it when I wake up like this, she thought, but I’ll still have three hours more to sleep when I get back and it’ll be cooler. It had been a hectic week, the clients were asking the impossible and she hadn’t been able to let go.

As she rounded the corner of the block she saw some movement between the houses. Probably just someones dog. The light from a bedroom window caught the glint of something orange, she couldn’t believe her eyes, it looked like a tiger lithely moving out of the shadows. Her heart kicked up a couple of notches and her breath caught in her throat. It was a tiger. She felt so exposed with no wall or fencing separating her from the huge animal. She hoped it hadn’t seen her as she slipped through the gate of the nearest house and moved quickly around to the back. Could it have escaped from the zoo. She hadn’t heard of any warning on the news. There was a screened porch and her hand tried the knob o the door. It opened easy and she ducked inside and closed it firmly behind her.

As she sat huddled in a corner a car pulled into the driveway. The family began to exit the vehicle. She wanted to shout to them to watch out but was afraid to agitate the beast lurking in the shadows. A tall blonde man with glassed and a broad smile made it to the door and opened it for the children giggling and dancing along the path. As they entered, she stood up and quickly went to him and whispered anxiously, “There’s a tiger out there!”

“Oh, okay, it’ll be alright” he said calmly.

“No!” she said urgently, “you don’t understand, there really is a huge tiger hiding in the bushes, it came after me and I found your door unlocked and came in to get away.”

She could see the tiger approaching and coming through the doorway. Her breathing caught in her throat and she crumpled to the floor, sitting there staring at the beast awaiting her fate. The tiger sidled up next to her and lay down at her side, soft and warm. She could feel it’s moist breath on her feet as her heart hammered in her chest. Why was everyone behaving as if it was normal, okay to be there, in this small confined porch with a huge, wild beast?

When Gianna woke up the memory of the dream was still vivid in her mind and she searched for where it had come from. She reviewed her experiences of the day before, what she had seen, read, thought. Nothing out of the ordinary had been a part of the daily experience. Strange she thought, I wonder what it means.