The Gargoyle and The Tiger

Word of the Day Challenge: Gargoyle

When I was about 11 years old I suffered through bouts of sleep paralysis.

Sleep Paralysis is a frightening syndrome and one of the sensations people have while going through it is the feeling that there is an intruder near by. Some people hear and smell things too.

When I was going through an episode, I thought there was a man eating tiger walking  down the hallway to my room- I could hear it’s paws whispering along the wooden floor,  I could hear it purr and growl and I could hear it gnash it’s teeth.

And there I was, paralyzed – with a ferocious  tiger getting ready to rip me to shreds.

I got to the point to where I didn’t want to fall asleep.  My parents took me to the Doctor, because I wasn’t doing well to say the least

It actually turned out to be a helpful visit.

A few weeks after my visit to the Doctor’s,   I went to see my Aunt.

I told my Aunt that my Doctor had told me I was  only dreaming and he even gave me some tips to relax and to ‘fall back asleep’ so I could sort of re-set my clock and wake back up all the way.

Did it work? My Aunt asked.

Some of the time, I told her. But no matter how scared I was  if I woke up and found I was ‘paralyzed’  I had to make myself  breathe slow and easy and to count back from 50. . But it was hard to focus, I told her, when I thought a demonic Tiger was going to pop my chest open and slurp up my insides the minute I fell asleep.

My Aunt told me she thought she had something that would help.

She handed me a stone gargoyle.

It was about the size of my hand and it had wings folded against it’s sides. One of them was chipped. It had a very interesting face. I couldn’t decide if it had a cat’s face or a bird’s face.

I decided to name it Blackie- after my dog who had died when I was about eight years old.

I asked her where she got it from and she said she had found it at an antique store and was going to give it to me as a birthday gift until she noticed it’s wing was damaged.

The gargoyle she said, as I held it up to the light so that I could see it’s face better,  was supposed to keep bad luck and evil spirits away from buildings so she guessed they could do the same for one kid.

I slept with it under my pillow and I was treated, for awhile to uninterrupted sleep.

That didn’t last.

One night I woke up and heard the Tiger and I tried to remember to breathe slow, to count, to feel myself  sinking back down to sleep when I thought I felt the Tiger breathing on my face. I even thought it pinched my cheek with one of it’s fangs.

I couldn’t open my eyes, I couldn’t cry out and I can’t  stress enough- I really wanted to scream.

Then I heard something hit the  floor next to my bed.

I woke up – not in stages,  my eyes flew open and I sat up in bed and I knew I could scream if I wanted to because I could move.

Bliss. I could move. It was bliss.

I looked down and there was my gargoyle looking back up at me from the floor.

I reached down, picked him up and set him back under my pillow.

Photo A.M. Moscoso

The Tiger never came back- or as my Doctor would have said, I never suffered from an episode of Sleep Paralysis again.

On the other hand, my lifelong love of gargoyles began and to this day I have dozens of them in all sorts of forms throughout my house.

You know, just in case that Tiger comes back.


Photo A.M. Moscoso

Angels watching, e’er around thee,
All through the night
Midnight slumber close surround thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and dale in slumber sleeping
I my loved ones’ watch am keeping,
All through the night

Photo A.M. Moscoso

This is a funny sidenote: after I got done writing this the sky went dark and a thunderstorm hit.

How’s that for an ending!

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