I go to bed each night with a stuffed toy. Don't laugh, its true. His name is Mr. Eagle, my boon companion since I moved into the new house.
Mr. Eagle likes sesame seeds and fish bagels, which he prefers every morning for breakfast. He prefers some privacy while he bathes. If you squeeze his tummy, he emits the tell-tale call of the bald eagle crying out to its young, or signaling to others. Other than that, Mr. Eagle is very quiet, as befits any creature that has taken up residence in the bedroom. He is the strong silent type.
His beak is bright yellow, and sharp. As sharp as can be expected from a plush toy, anyway. His eyes are black, and ever unblinking. He has white head feathers, surrounded by a magnificent ruff of downy plumage. It makes him look fierce, and somewhat larger than his actual size of approximately six inches high. His talons are blunt (again, the plushness) but highly visible. This serves as a warning, perhaps, to any would-be intruders or assailants who dare disturb me while I slumber.
This deterrence is a good thing. Mr. Eagle, you see, is my protector.
How do I know this? Simple. My daughter told me so. I take Her Majesty's pronouncements quite seriously when they are as solemnly delivered as the one wherein she bequeathed Mr. Eagle to me. It was around the first time she stayed with me after the move. When it came time to start readying her stuff to return to her mother's house, I was feeling a little down and she asked me what was wrong. I told her that I was a little sad to see her go, and it made me feel lonely.
Wee Lass looked at me with those stained glass eyes, and handed me Mr. Eagle. "Keep him, daddy," she said, "and put him in your bedroom while you sleep. When you see him, you can think of me and you won't be lonely". She later told me that he would protect me. I thanked her, and carefully placed Mr. Eagle on the other side of the bed, propped up against the pillows.
I didn't have the heart to tell her how a stuffed toy won't really push back the great gray walls of loneliness. It won't really comfort you when you wake up from another anxiety dream clutching at air and cursing the suffocating dark. It won't really keep the wolves from the door.
Then again, when I turn out the light, I always reach over and make sure Mr. Eagle is sitting upright...you just never know when something dangerous might come through the door. But I know if it does, I won't be totally on my own. Mr. Eagle, he's got my back. Wee Lass, she's got my heart. Together, we push back hard against those great gray walls.