Panthers behind the Sofa

When I sort through my oldest memories

There’s a figure prominently featured

He’s wearing a white t-shirt and faded blue jeans

Lying on the living room floor on a Sunday afternoon

The morning had been hectic – scrambling to get the family ready for church

But we’re back home now – dinner is over, and his chest is rising and falling – rhythm in lockstep with the rafter-shaking snoring

Like a stealthy panther, I stalk this sleeping prey. Between the curtains and the sofa, I silently crawl

As a boy of 4, I am far too confident. Utterly pleased with myself, a gleeful, anticipatory chuckle escapes my youthful frame

I gasp – covering my mouth with my little hands – desperate to stifle any further giggles

Had I awoken the beast? The snoring briefly falters – his eyebrows raise . . . though his lids never open

I cautiously and foolishly proceed. Sneak… creep…. crawl…. closer…. closer….

Suddenly, there is a tremendous growl. I scream in joyous terror. With every drop of stamina I can muster, I turn to hastily retreat, but I am too late

Two colossal, hairy appendages fall in a great circle around me. I am immediately enveloped in a prison of arms

I kick and scream and flail about – my cries for mercy mixed with a furious deluge of boyish laughter

I had fallen for it again. The hunter now the prey, and as the beast proceeds to rub his whiskery jaw against my soft face, I beg for him to stop – though secretly I knew this was my fate all along.

24 years later, I write this on a Sunday afternoon in my own home after church. We have just finished dinner, and if I’m not mistaken, I believe I may have heard a panther softly giggling in the living room, despite her best attempts to conceal it… it must be time for my ‘nap.’

To the best Daddy ever – John Lee Schofield

j.d.schofield

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