“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


Embracing the tiger

I have had the beginning of this story for 3 or 4 years,
and have printed parts of it,
but the ending remained elusive until recently
Suddenly I knew.
The power of my own gifts is the answer.

There once was a woman who lived with 2 cats in a magic forest at the edge of an enchanted jungle. The magic of this forest was not that it did special things for her, but that it gave
her the strength & the belief that she could do these things for herself. The forest was filled with wolves & white owls, foxes & raccoons, but in the jungle lived strange & wonderful creatures with truly magical gifts & powers. When the elephants came near she could hear the sound of cellos playing.

The woman wasn’t lonely, for she knew a man she loved very much, but his life was too exhausting for her to spend too much time in, so she would return to the cats & the house in the forest and listen for the cello music & the sound of the nearby stream, and look for the white owl to fly overhead in the full moonlight, and she would inhale deeply, and the strength & the magic of the forest would once again return to her body & her soul.

But in the jungle there also lived a tiger the woman had never seen - she knew he was there and could imagine the terrible-ness of him. She knew he was big & bright and could change her life with just one whisper or one thought or even one small breath. Once, a long time ago, someone she loved had gone away - for the forest was magic, but not perfect, and could not protect her from the sadness of life - and the woman blamed this on the tiger and pictured him in her mind as even bigger. His stripes grew darker & his claws sharper, but, most frightening of all, his step became even more quiet, so she could never be quite sure if he was really there. No music played to hint of his presence, but sometimes she thought she heard drums & believed that these were the sound of the tiger, although truly she knew the drums were just the sound of her frightened heart. Sometimes it seemed that the tiger carried an hourglass around his neck, and would empty the minutes and hours she should have. She could sense his presence as she hurried to get things done, and the less time she had, the closer the tiger seemed. She thought that perhaps it was the tiger's breath that took in these missing minutes, and as he held his breath, she found it harder to catch hers, and seemed always to be running from him.

The forest tried to help. When she was lost, the leaves became arrows, pointing her towards home. Blue flowers would spring up in forgotten places, and the wolves would howl in the night to remind her she was not alone, but the sense of the tiger stayed strong, and the fear of unknown places where he might hide grew larger, and the woman began to venture less and less into the enchanted jungle and the world of the man she loved. For she knew the tiger remained, watching and waiting, and she would feel his power in the quiet of the evenings, and cry herself to sleep each night, feeling trapped in her own little home.

But one night a dream came to her, a dream in which she drew a heart around her house - just a simple heart, drawn into the earth with a stick, and she found courage in that dream, in that drawing, and in the saying of words as she drew, and when she awoke, the magic of the dream stayed with her, and her heart calmed and the quietness scared her less, and vines began to grow along the trails leading into the jungle, their heart shaped blossoms leading her on, giggling with each step she took. And the woman, holding her drawing stick close, began to walk the forgotten places of the jungle, leaving her mark on trees as she passed, so that she might know she had been there before and not fear those places anymore. She listened less for the tiger, and when one day she happened upon his paw prints, she stopped, surprised, for they were not as big as she’d imagined, and, knowing he was near, she leaned forward and carefully drew a heart around each print, then continued on her way.
i must draw; i must write


  1. oh, i wish for you to keep writing. i would stand in line, for anything you put to pages.

  2. This is just stunning. Thank you!

  3. wow. i can just say wow. this is an amazing piece of work. you're amazing. thank you so much for sharing it.

  4. i don't know how to say how much i LOVE this, just that it resonated with every part of my being and i am longing to read it through once more.

  5. I grew up reading fairy tales, loving them so much that I am still writing my own. This is beautiful, capturing the poignant simplicity of a fairy tale perfectly. And it is very powerful, a story that will ring true down the ages, like any good fairy trail. You are magic.

  6. A fairytale, truthful of real life, and so wonderful. You must draw it into existence for the bookstore, and I shall be your first customer! You have the perfect words, and the art to go with it... write it soon. (:

  7. This sounds like it might be a parallel to your own life. Who is the man and what is the tiger? I'm so glad that you are not scared of it anymore and are letting it go & putting it in the past. And I'm glad you are loving yourself, too ........

  8. To everyone - thank you, thank you, muchas gracias!! :)

    I am quite in love with the idea of walking the forgotten places of the jungle. It is hard (it is a jungle, after all!), but those are the places the most beautiful flowers grow.


  9. i believe there is a heart drawn around you!! absolutely wonderful!!

  10. i really enjoyed reading this Debi...thanks so much for sharing it ...dreams to paper , such a gift

  11. sigh.

    That ending. Oh, that ending. Completely worth waiting for.

    And, tonight. tonight I will dream of tiger prints encircled by loving, slightly-wabbly, hand-drawn hearts.

  12. magic happens when you put pen to paper, pure magic. Thank you.


  13. You are amazing.
    I felt like a child as I huddled in close to the screen to read your story...and yet I understood the tones which were not childlike at all, but were the whispers of a beautiful soul expressing her vulnerability.
    And how I loved that you drew hearts around each pawprint, embracing your fear and transforming it into love.
    My heart wraps around you today.


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