All was at peace, the world asleep in a cloak of star-studded black. It was hard to conceive of any horror within the still night sea, an unmoving ocean of unimagined depth.
But all was not at peace in Amy’s bedroom. Rigid, she lay awake, eyes focussed on the stick-on-stars above. If she stared hard enough, really really hard, perhaps she would magically go there: to a star in another galaxy, to a world where school bullies did not exist, to a paradise where being happy was reality, where taunts and jeers were but dust in the sun’s rays, where you could just be, be and be. A place just for you.
Amy was six years old but already had the keen cynicism of a sixty year old. People were mean. End of story.
But this story will not end there. As Amy nervously clutched her long blonde hair, a turbulent sea across her pillow, a sound of purring pierced her tense ears. The ferocious waves of disquiet within were soothed by the calm of feline song.
Amy put her hand out, but there was nothing there. The stars on the ceiling stared soullessly down, no answers there. But the purring was real, a melody of warmth in her ears, the song of real stars. Slowly she fell asleep, dreaming of a land in which she was Princess Amy, popular, unbullied.
And still the purring was in her ears, as Tonto slowly awoke. He licked his silken black and white fur. He had done it again, soul-walking as he dreamt. Unshed feline tears pricked dry eyes. Such a sweet child, so much distress in her head. So he had healed her with his magic purr.
Tonto’s stomach somersaulted. Soul-walking always attacked his appetite. In the kitchen his bowl was soon empty, and then he climbed back in to bed, hearing another child calling.
The next morning, Tonto’s mother, Susan, let out a sigh of frustration. “Tonto’s dish is licked clean again! He would never have eaten all that. The neighbourhood tom has been here again!”
Tonto rubbed round her legs, and purred his mind-misting music, eyes shining with inner knowing.
As Amy dressed for school, she knew what she would do. Stand up for herself. The bullies would not tear her apart, not today, oh no. A hushed purring in her ears, resolve rose in her heart, and confidence cartwheeled in her head. Today was the first day of the rest of her life.
Tonto climbed on to Susan’s lap, and purred. The sea of life was still, nightly fears erased by the light of day. Susan fell asleep as Tonto continued to purr. The magic of dreams claimed the day, and all was at peace.