Burning Bright

Burning Bright

by v_voltaire

::v_voltaire takes the stage:: This is the story of the creature who later took on the extra role of my muse. It's actually a rather old story. Do you all want to know how I actually got accepted into a college? Wonder no more, boys and girls, for here is my college essay, copied word-for-word (and mistake-for-mistake, as it were). I liked the original version better than this one, but it unfortunately had to be pared down to approximately five hundred words, and several of my old, brilliantly-written (snerk) paragraphs are lost forever. This is the essay as it was submitted. It was one of the things I found while poking about my parents' really old Mac. It's an LCII from about 1992/1993. They still use it sometimes. Scary.

Extra note: If anyone actually knows who wrote the original story Tracey's Tiger, please email me with the author's name so I can both give proper credit and read that great short story again. And, yes, I know what a tiger is supposed to look like, and no, he doesn't look like one. It's a throwback to the original short story. ::v_voltaire leaves the stage to make room for a younger version of herself::

I closed my book, let out a satisfied sigh, and decided I wanted a tiger. The book I had finished reading was Tracey's Tiger, a story about a boy with an imaginary pet tiger who was an extension of his psyche. I read it, I liked it, and I wanted one.

I turned to my dad, sitting next to me on the plane. "Da-ad," I said, my voice scaling up a musical seventh. Although seventeen, I could still do a perfect imitation of a two-year-old who wanted something. "Can I have a tiger?"

My dad, used to the strange questions I ask after something has stimulated my imagination, replied, "A what?"

"A tiger." I decided to elaborate. "A 'Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright!' Like Tracey's."

"Like whose?"

My mom interjected her usual comment. "If you can catch it, you can keep it." This was an allusion to my days as the seven-year-old "Pigeon Chaser of Noname, Connecticut." My infamy had spread to all major cities of the world, which is probably the reason I have never actually caught a pigeon. Being forewarned, they were forearmed, and so they fled from my path. I couldn't catch a pigeon pet. However, an imaginary tiger I could catch and keep.

A week after my epiphany, while walking in the woods, I heard a rustling in the bushes. It may have been a squirrel. It may have been the wind, but I knew what it was to me.

"Tyger!" I called out in a voice contained in my mind. A pair of purple eyes peered out at me. "Come here, Tyger," I coaxed. A strong feline form slid out of the woods. She was covered in sleek, black fur that shone a deep blue when the sun hit it. He had sharp white claws which usually stayed sheathed within his paws. Tyger continuously changed genders, because I couldn't decide which she should be, and calling him an "it" would be insulting. I left the decision to Tyger, who is just as indecisive about the issue as I am, so she is prone to transgender. I like her better this way; he can escape another of the physical world's limitations.

Tyger is simply an exercise in imagination. For the first week I took her everywhere I went. He became irritable towards people because he was often stepped on. He hasn't realized other people cannot see him, and I haven't fully accepted that either. I left him in the hotel room until the plane ride home. She slept sprawled on the tops of the seats, interrupting her rest occasionally to release a regal yawn before resettling herself into a more comfortable position on her makeshift dais.

I still see Tyger sometimes. He is often prowling the house, hiding from his own imaginary terrors, or lounging Cleopatra-like across my bed. I don't often bring Tyger to school. He doesn't like teenagers, the majority of which put up a front of "adult" mannerisms, deeming works of the imagination trivial and childish. Whenever I need inspiration I look up and see my tiger's violet eyes, burning bright with curiosity, intelligence, and pure life. She is an extension of my soul. His actions are a reflection of my emotions. Tyger is nothing but air, which is why my "Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright!" is so powerful.