I know where you were, Mom. Stalking your prey on the African plains, you sprang, you made contact. The antelope’s sticky meat hung from your sharp teeth. You lowered your head to the ground, holding the animal with your paw, making it easier to tear the flesh. The only thing in the world was eating and eating and eating.

Satisfied, you curl up with the other lions and dream until the next time.

It’s spooky-dark alone in the kitchen. The overhead light is off because I don’t want to wake up all the way. Algebra test in the morning, hockey game in the afternoon. The fridge light is all I need. Food spills onto the floor: vegetable soup, tuna salad, creamed corn. Bones are all that are left from a family pack of spareribs. Ugh, you ate them raw. Again.

I wipe up the mess and sweep up the broken red bowl. It’s the least I can do. I was the last one in the fridge. The guys wanted Cokes with the chips you bought for us, and I didn’t want them to see me padlocking the refrigerator. Too embarrassing. They went home so late, I forgot to go back and set the lock. Now you’ll be sick tomorrow and it’s all my fault. Sorry, Mom, sorry.

I’ll bet you’re not in Africa anymore. Maybe you’re stretched out on the window sill of a pretty old house. The little boy who lives there scratches your neck and you purr contentedly. It’s nice lying in the sun dreaming cat dreams.

I remember when the doctor first gave a name to your nighttime crawling and hissing and feeding. Parasomnia. You were so happy to finally have an answer. You even laughed and called yourself Catwoman. I was little, so I pinned a towel around my neck and yelled, “I’m Batman. I will defeat you, Catwoman!”

I wish.

Melatonin’s not working anymore. The site I googled suggests Xanax or Clonazepam. I’m thinking maybe a bell on your door.

Who knew most of us are paralyzed when we dream? Who knew what can happen if you’re not?

So what’s going on, mom? Are you acting out a dream or dreaming up an act?

Karen Peacock