I Have Become Pretty Bad at Prayer

I am not sure when it happened. I want to say around Lent, I started noticing that all my prayer was distracted. All of it. There is not a prayer or meditation where don’t I miss half of what I’m supposed to be doing because my mind was elsewhere. When I notice this, I turn my attention back to the prayer, back to Christ’s loving gaze or the Spirit’s glow.

But also I’m not sure if I like waffles anymore, I’m going to punch that woman who’s holding up the project, I wish so hard that downstairs would stop yelling at her child like that please God help this family and my ankle hurts again. Why can’t I exercise like I used to?

“…art thou amongst women, & blessed is the fruit of thy womb…” WILL I DIE ALONE?

It’s that bad. It’s worse.

But I don’t stop doing it.

An hour a day. I wake up an hour earlier than I need to because I know, I know if I wait until everything calms down, I’ll drop dead asleep & I won’t do it. And I need to do it. Even if I do it badly.

I know this is a dry period. I know that all the things on my plate are slowly getting eaten. The elephant is almost gone. I’m just down to the ears & the trunk. Once the last bite of the elephant is gone…there will of course be another elephant to eat. And I will eat him one bite at a time, also.

(If you’ve never heard that saying, that last paragraph is super gross.)

What I am trying to say is that you absolutely must not worry if your prayer is distracted, if every time you’re trying to listen to God, he’s interrupted by your dumb head. He gets it. He was human. He knows.

Have you ever been to lunch with someone who is a truly busy person (not just LA busy) like a doctor or a mom or a producer (who is LA busy, but they really are getting urgent calls) & instead of getting mad, you just think, “It’s pretty amazing this person is trying to have lunch with me, considering how slammed they are”? Now you have some idea that God still loves you even though you suck as a listener.

God is just chuffed that you came to lunch with him.

Now, lunch would be more enjoyable if you put down your phone or, better yet, turned on DND. But God knows you have a lot going on. He’s seen your Twitter feed & all your vaguebooking, except, unlike your friends, he actually knows what you’re not talking about.

Eventually my ability to focus will return. Meanwhile, that hour of distracted prayer is keeping me from becoming the literal worst.

Would you also like to not be the worst? You can start by using an app like Hallow, which is sort of like Audible for prayer:

There are other apps, too, but this is the one I wish I owned stock in, as I use it so much. Even the free version has a ton of content.

You can also engage in contemplative walks, or just motionless contemplation, & just ask the Holy Spirit to come. You’d be amazed at what God can show you, even with the noise in your head.

Going to Mass is never a bad idea, as you’re praying with everyone else, and that can carry you when you’re dragging. I know that a few of you who read these have never attended a Mass, but I invite you to ask God to show you a safe opportunity to participate in the fullness and absolute mystery of the Mass.

Watch some Masses online! Dip your toes. It’s okay if you have no idea what the heck is going on. Nobody does at first. Eventually, everybody figures out the rhythm. It doesn’t take as long as you think.

Turn your daydreams into prayers. “God, I would love a husband, I think. God, I want to make films. God, I want to build a car from scratch. God, I fantasize about quitting my job. God, what if unicorns were still around? Wait, were they ever real?”

You can talk to God about thoughts that scare you, too. In fact, nobody can handle that better than God (though God may also provide an opportunity for you to go to a support group or therapy).

I am bad a prayer right now, sure. But the worst prayer is the one never started. He knows what we know, but we sometimes don’t. Invite him to show it to you.

Concupiscence (say THAT 5 times fast)

This is an actual thing you can buy if you click.

Remember when you were between the ages of 10-12 & puberty hadn’t quite set in yet, but literally every kid you knew had a slew of dirty jokes that were funny just because you knew they were dirty (but they were actually very stupid)?

They weren’t titillating or interesting because of any sexual desires on any kids’ part, they were just naughty, & that’s why everybody gathered round to hear them.

I assume this might be why literally every priest I’ve known in the past 10 years has their own retinue of naughty jokes. A sexless life, whether 11 or 63, produces conspiratorial verbal concupiscence.

What a word! I’ve only ever heard it pronounced con-KYOO-peh-since so please forgive me if I say it in front of you & it’s wrong to your ears. One of the most ridiculous experiences of my life was trying to teach a Brazilian Franciscan monk to say it when he came across it in his reading.

Concupiscence is the human desire to sin. St. Augustine would add it tends to be naughty by nature. There’s a great passage in 1 Corinthians (maybe a couple, depending on the translation) arguing against naughtiness. This isn’t the English “Ooh, you naughty boy!” where a 6 year old is spanked for putting marmalade on the spaniel’s ears—a distinctly British problem indeed. It’s more inline with the “I’ve been a bad girl” line of naughtiness, but the speaker is 53.

Concupiscence drives the All Nude Girls variety of establishment, the porn industry, the donut hamburger and the deep fried Snickers realm of human existence. We would never have imagined such things if our imaginations did not tend toward the extreme, the over the top, the “nobody needs this but now I want it” sort of craving.

Every now & then the American food industry invents something that boggles the mind, and learning of it is similar to googling something with your filters off & discovering it’s the term for some debased sex act. “Burrito ice cream sandwich pizza!” Whether that’s food or a sex act, it’s debauched.

Obviously, burrito ice cream sandwich pizza is wrong, it is of Satan, no sane person would try it…except I’d bet money someone is making one right now.

And it’s probably one of those little rat bastards with a high metabolism who is skinny no matter what they shove in their gullet.

What is wrong with naughtiness? We all like it! It kinda makes the world go ‘round, in a way. We are all deeply attracted to it, except super boring scary people. There is not one human left alive over the age of 30 who hasn’t, at some point, uttered “That’s what she said.”

God help me, I’m pretty sure I’ve said that in the sacristy.

There does seem to be a line between harmless fun involving distinctly adult foibles and full on sexual harassment and food abuse.

Notice that naughtiness is never about hurting people. It’s more about hurting yourself. You always take a risk in saying something suggestive or bringing a piecaken to a public event. What will people think of the mind that knows that joke or conceived of such a dessert?

The rewards, of course, are huge. If successful, we share a tawdry laugh & create a shortcut to personal intimacy by engaging in trust. You trust me because I trusted you with my bawdy limerick. I trust you because you laughed. Now I know you’re safe, & you think I’m fun. If you eat the piecaken I made, I know that you, too, would rather sit in front of re-runs of Kids in the Hall eating ice cream than going on a run.

Literally every runner right now: “Um, I once shotgunned an entire Coscto cheesecake during an LotR marathon.”

(Because runners can do that sort of thing and it never shows on their Runny McRunnerson bodies.)

Man, now I want a poke bowl.

Anyhow, I don’t know the answers. I guess concupiscence is a slippery slope? I guess? I was once described a decade ago by one public figure to another as “that saucy, naughty girl on Twitter” so concupiscence was my actual brand for a while there.

But I’m celibate so my concupiscence is for naught.

Maybe two poke bowls…

Fine, fine, back to prayer.

UPDATE: 1 out of 4 priests takes issue with my cavalier use of the term “concupiscence”, & he is right to do so. Never take me for a seminary trained theologian, gentle reader. I’m literally just some chick.

“It’s Our Time, Down Here”

Photo: The Goonies, Warner Bros.

“What is the Holy Spirit?” some of you ask, especially those who just read my schpeil on the Trinity.

And then I tell you, “From experience, the Holy Spirit is that water slide from The Goonies.”

“I’m sorry, what?” you say, because you are a very serious person with a very serious question, & I am a twit inebriated with the blood of Christ.

So I say to you, a serious person, “You know when the kids in The Goonies have to escape the Fratellis & they end up on that wacky water slide & they have no idea where they’re going & it’s scary but also kind of fun? And they end up being one step closer to freedom? It’s like that.”

“Huh,” you say, having never thought of it like that because St. Athanasius never ever said that even once in his ponderous creed.

Obviously the Holy Spirit is not a water tunnel dug by a fictional pirate. But as wind is only “seen” by what it does to the trees & the Los Angeles rubbish and my hair & sinuses, the Holy Spirit is best seen by effect.

I mean, it originally appeared as tongues of fire. What actually do you want from me here?

When I truly, sincerely surrender my will to the will of God (not just ploddingly cooperate, but deeply let go of the wheel), that water slide opens under me & suddenly I’m moving to another state to become the only Christian intuitive at a famous psychic bookstore. I’m now listening to dailies from Argo with the sequel to 300 coming across my desk. I’m driving the Bishop of El Salvador to a Dodger game. I’m doing Holy Week by myself & somehow it’s all working. I’m afraid I’ll be homeless one month and buying a house the next.

Like, you really have to let go. And then cling so very tightly to God, because only he knows where this crazy thing is taking you. If you let go, you may fly off the path into darkness. YOU ARE NOT AS SMART AS GOD.

Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times!

I did it again recently…surrendered. Not out of sadness or anger or frustration. I just said to God, “You have now blessed me with tremendous stability. Surely you want me to have a place from which to do your Next Thing. Lay it on me! Veni sancte spiritus!”

I can already feel it starting to ramp up again. What wacky adventure is coming next? What thing I do not believe myself capable of doing will be I asked to do? How will I be stretched and challenged by my Lord?

I’m nearly done with school. Will it be that? Will it be—gasp—a path to marriage? Will it be cancer? I dunno. I just invite God to use me & then marvel at the wonders.

I do very much wonder indeed.

A Few Minor Confessions

Noto’s brill artwork.

When my site is actually up (thanks, weird world war hackers!), I occasionally get hits on this gem, so I was compelled to read it again recently.

I realize now that something I said in it repeatedly is actually partly inaccurate. Imma set the record straight.

I had actually seen comic book movies & read comic books before the dream in which Jesus appeared to me as Chris Hemsworth Thor. But no Marvel stuff. It just dawned on me as I was driving to the church today to do sacristan stuff. I love Batman. I saw a Spiderman. I saw pretty much every X-Men up to when Jean Grey went kind of Dark Phoenix.

I even own comic books, they’re just really weird ones, except for a couple of signed Nathan Edmondson Black Widows. He has a wildlife fund that you are more than welcome to donate to, if you so choose.

https://www.ecodefensegroup.org

So yeah, I am not sure where my head was at when I wrote that except literally everything is Marvel now, & I had seen none of it. I have since caught up slightly with that universe, & despite being mostly repetitive, it is fun, Ragnarok being of course the best.

Another confession: I’m kind of a female chauvinist pig. Actually, “kind of” is self serving. I actually am a female chauvinist pig. I know it’s terrible, I know it’s the lens through which I view the world, & despite intellectually knowing that men are my equal, I just think they’re cute.

I have been told that my brain works this way because I’m actually afraid of men & if I gave them any more power than being cute, I would be afraid all the time (which is the antithesis of my plucky heroine persona & not okay).

I don’t know if that’s entirely true. I think it’s more that I’ve never really been able to trust any men. In my experience, they all say one thing & do another. I’ve been promised a lot & it’s amounted to lies or changed minds. And I don’t have any respect for people who don’t do what they say. Blammo: chauvinism.

But I also don’t think that women are better than men. Maybe chauvinism isn’t the right word. I just don’t believe. I’m slightly in awe of every woman who’s believed in some idiot long enough to marry him. The chances y’all took! Some of you even seem happy. That is amazing.

As a Christian, this is of course All Wrong. But time & again I see men completely letting their wives down, & these are not women with unrealistic expectations. Fidelity, occasional cheerfulness, treating the kids like people…like, these are not big asks.

I also 100% accept that I am a pain in the ass. I am infuriatingly independent, and while I can be ordered around if I have any reason to respect your authoritah, I can just as easily glare at you behind your back & subvert your entire operation if I think you are being a horse’s ass. I will also bluntly call you out. And I am oblivious to subtlety. I can’t read your damned mind. You have to tell me. Believe that I will tell you.

Someone whom I once loved very much said, “Oh my God, you are Seven of Nine,” & while I laugh a lot more than she does, he’s not wrong. Get the thing done, shut your gob, stop whining, & let’s cut out the BS. Present solutions or stop talking. Most human interaction is superfluous. I WANT SOULS TO DIRECTLY TOUCH.

This is a lot.

I’ve had to come to grips with my space dominatrix personality in order to become a better spiritual director. I have had to stare her in her little Borg-y face & acknowledge how she has protected me & also how she’s driven people away. And how she is not sad about that at all.

Except I am DEFINITELY not the smartest being in the universe. Just the most stubborn.

If I all I have is Jesus, I’m good! I’m really good. He’s the only man I trust.

But he’s also like “You could stand to soften a little.”

Some of my friends are confused by this because they only see the me that interacts with people who come to the church, or how I deal with clients, but the 3 people on the planet who know me best would tell you I came to this planet mainly to move mountains & to not have anything in my way. I am a little scary. When I just say what is in my head, I may as well have said, “Resistance is futile.”

This is not energy I need to quiet. It is energy that is best channeled in service to my Lord & God. Is it why I’m single? Yes, likely it is.

Will I regret this when I’m in so much pain I cannot take care of myself? Maybe. Or maybe a man who can handle a cyborg will be part of my life by then, and we will read quietly together sometimes & cry laughing at stupid crap on YouTube other times, & our home will be spotless until we are too weak to take care of it, & then we’ll pay someone.

Or I’ll just pay someone myself.

Pray for me, y’all. I’m a stone.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15755864.K_J_Adan

Not Just the Chick in The Matrix

A friend recently asked me to explain the Trinity which has been the bane of much more learned men than myself for approximately 2000 years. My own understanding of the Trinity is apparently heresy, so I am hesitant to share it. But it honestly first clicked for me when I thought of God as water—all encompassing, flowing, raining & waving; and Jesus as ice—solid, tangible, graspable; and the Holy Spirit as steam or vapour—something healing, something we can inhale & make part of us.

This is apparently horrifying to priests. From a layperson’s & a scientist’s perspective, as these things are all water, just in different states, it makes sense. But the key component I am missing, of course, is love.

Priests generally are not good at explaining this, which is frustrating when you are trying to help someone new to the whole concept. I have looked at probably ten videos from ten different really smart & engaging clergy persons & nothing is appropriate for the person who’s never been to Mass. I have been steeped in the trinitarian message for years, so I feel it in my marrow, but how do I convey years of repetition to a person who hasn’t gone to Mass?

I mean aside from recommending that someone goes to Mass, which of course I always do.

The closest non-water explanation I have heard is that God is a substance in 3 persons (which, you know, sounds like water to me). This is also unhelpful.

Father Michael at my parish, who does not record or write down his excellent homilies, always cites Sister Mary Elizabeth from when he was a little boy. She says, “It’s a mystery.” Well, okay. That is kind of satisfying, in a very Catholic “It’s okay to not understand this because GOD IS SO BIG” but this does not satisfy the non-Catholic questioner, ever. I suspect it does not satisfy many Catholics, either, considering how many have stopped attending Mass.

So I guess the best way I can hope to explain the Trinity to someone is only to invite them to experience it. It’s a good prayer: “Lord, please show me the Trinity. Please help me understand how you are love & how that love is expressed in three persons.” You may as well throw in a prayer to help understand extra-human physics, too, because I believe it has a lot to do with that, as well.

It’s possible also that some people feel removed from Christ & the Holy Spirit specifically because God is a much easier concept to grasp, in some ways. As pantheistic as our culture has become, even pagans say “the Universe” when they are speaking of something Other & Greater. One big overarching Power is very ecumenical & also economical.

But Jesus was an actual person & sometimes we can’t wrap our heads around that. Why would the creator of the universe pour himself into a zygote & risk developing in the womb where all manner of things can go wrong, and be born where even more things can go wrong, and be raised in a Roman-occupied state where he would never be anything other than a second class citizen?

And God, whose mind is so vastly beyond ours that we cannot comprehend it, smiles.

You need only a cursory understanding of world history to start to grasp, when you really think about it, why Jesus had to be a man in that place at that time. Why when Jesus physically died, the Holy Spirit was given to the remaining apostles even as they hid from the Jewish leadership of the time. Why they eventually came out of hiding, emboldened by this spirit, and proclaimed the Son of God to their very deaths.

And we are still talking about it. Even the people who don’t want to!

The Trinity is some powerful physics.

Addendum on June 12, 2022:

It is Trinity Sunday, so every priest & bishop with a podcast & a YouTube is trying to explain the Trinity today. I don’t know if this helps, but have a look:

Quantum physics (the thing even physicists struggle to discuss)
You can start at 7:59, but I invite you to watch the whole Mass. Also have tissues on hand.

An Ecstatic Love

Most of us have no concept of how much God loves us. I’ve heard more often than not that “God hates me” from people within & without the church. It is the lie we tell ourselves because it’s less painful for a distant Other to hate us than to admit we’ve taken on negative messages from supposed caregivers, from exes, from ourselves.

Nothing is more untrue than “God hates me.”

Mystics (heck, the actual Bible) describe God as a lover & that we are the beloved, pursued over hill & dale until we utterly succumb to & accept his advances. This image does not quite hit right, as the kids say, for a lot of y’all. One, we get all confused & upset about Eros. Two, many of you have never felt desired or wanted, or may not have had a lover. “Love” may have been used as a weapon against you. That kind of love just doesn’t evoke the profound warmth & desire God has to be with you.

But who is always excited to see you & never wants to leave your side & wants to protect you & laze around with you & run around with you & has seen you do all kinds of rank nonsense & still loves you unconditionally?

The dog.

Literally any dog.

Nobody greets you like a dog, except God, who is EVEN MORE ECSTATIC TO SEE YOU, if you can imagine that. If you haven’t walked into a church for a while, don’t worry, you won’t burst into flame. You’re only in danger of being love-mauled by an energy screaming out of the tabernacle. “OMIGOSH YOU’RE HERE!! YOU CAME TO SEE ME! Amaaaaaazing!”

In one of the most profound visions I’ve ever had in front of the Sacrament, I was sitting with Jesus in front of an open fire in a camp in the woods. He gestured to the darkness, & then a large black wolf emerged from the darkness & leaned on me by the fire, the way dogs do. I absolutely understood it was God.

“I am here, in the darkness & the light. I love you so much.”

A dog expects you to behave like a decent person and treats you already as if you are, in fact, a decent person. Even when you’re not. God knows your potential. God knows who you want to be. And God loves you as though you’re already exemplary because it’s all inside you already. He put it there. We just have to get out of its way.

Get out of its way & let that love come flying at you, tail a waggin’.

UPDATE: Of course Father Mike Schmitz just made a video about this that is better than anything I’ve said:

“My Kingdom is Not of This World”

Some of you know I am a huge fan of dynamic homiletics, or what I refer to colloquially as “banger sermons”. When a priest is deeply educated in the context, linguistics, history, & theology of the weekly gospel reading, he can’t help but break open the word of God & bring home straight to your heart the absolute truth of the teaching.

I’m not going to get that just reading the Bible, because I don’t have at least 8 years of formal university education on the subject. The beauty of the lectionary & of homiletics is that Catholic & Orthodox priests have been able to explain the linguistic nuances & convey Christ’s love to people even when the vast majority of them were illiterate.

I mean, we’ve been doing this for 2000 years, folks.

So I invite you to listen to 2 very different Christ the King homilies today (& share any other ones you love in the comments!!). I can’t post Father Michael’s because he doesn’t record his, sadly. But Bishop Barron & Father Mike Schmitz are gonna come at it from different angles & meet right in the center of your gut. Check them out:

The homily begins at 7:25, though I invite you to watch the whole Mass.

If you are confused by the different styles, Fr. Mike teaches college students, & Bishop Barron’s undergrad & master’s degree were in philosophy. Every priest is going to come at a subject based on his educational focus & life experience, which is why I enjoy listening to several homilies online after Mass.

If you get nothing else out of these, I invite you to ponder the following: whatever you’ve made king of your life will dictate what you do, how you treat yourself, and how you treat others.

Think about that for a hot second. It’s okay if you feel a little uncomfortable or guilty. I use those feelings to readjust my compass. It’s like when you’re walking & feel a rock in your shoe. You stop, take your shoe off, & dump it out. You don’t ruminate on the rock & let it continue to torture you.

I mean…sometimes we do, but that doesn’t make sense. Especially when your King has already died for your freedom.

Holy Giggles

He was talking about Thomas Merton, about God’s incomprehensible love, and constantly breaking into giggles. He’d look up to some corner of the classroom ceiling above our heads, laugh to himself, and continue talking. His name is David, and he’s absolutely filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit.

That’s how you know, by the way. The people bursting with the Holy Spirit. They are always giggling. They are lit from within with a source of joy that fills a room like light itself.

They may talk to themselves, or at least mutter, sometimes erupting into chuckles like they’ve heard or recalled an amazing joke. They may close their eyes to pray & suddenly gasp out a quick laugh (cough Father Mike Schmitz cough), just overcome with love for Christ. Yeah, they seem nuts. Also a little Yoda-ish, like when Luke first encounters him on Dagobah.

People who reject the Spirit or are afraid to give him (her? I’ve heard both) permission to meddle with their lives can find such people perplexing at best, loathsome at worst. “Be more serious! These are dire matters!” the perpetually aggrieved say. “Take this seriously! Take me seriously!”

The Holy Spirit & His very best friends (that can be you, FYI) are taking all of this very seriously. Joy and love and gift are serious business. Erupting into giggles because you are Loved so deeply and fully is just a symptom. How can you watch kittens strive so intently and not giggle with love? How can you be a kitten in God’s lap & not purr with contentment?

Bubbling over with The Greatest Love does not mean that justice can be overlooked or horrors can be ignored. The opposite, the absolute opposite. Frankl suffered the concentration camps and managed to find slices of joy. We need to be with people in pain and we need to not gloss over own pain, but we need to let the Spirit fill us. We need to let ourselves be soothed when God blows raspberries on our bellies.

We really are all, when you think about it, His babies. You can sit in your full diaper & scream, or you can allow yourself to be changed.

Easier said than done, for sure, but the continual effort (a little thing the Church calls conversion ) is worth it.

Even if you can’t stop giggling.

Women Who Are Done

I love this photo. This is a photo of a beautiful woman who is done. Her face is determined, and she has been thinking. And what she has been thinking is she is sick of your shit.

If you see this face on a woman, whether she is holding a blade or not, you should take a step back and carefully consider what will come out of her mouth. Because she has already done her crying. The weeping is over. This is a woman who has decided.

When a woman has decided, none of the garbage that comes out of your mouth matters anymore. Nothing you call her, no threat, no cajoling is going to move her. She’s already weighed her options. She has made up her mind. You are no longer in control of how she feels about herself.

You are a non entity.

She will do what she needs to do and you can only stop her by force. And we all know what that makes you.

This is the face of a woman who will start smiling if you insult her, if you threaten her, if you bribe her, if you lie to her one more damned time. She will smile if you try to tell her she’d be so perfect if only she stopped doing those one or two things that make her uniquely her, but you can’t stand them because they interfere with the fantasy or your work style or whatever damned thing in your life has no room for who she actually is.

She will smile because she was expecting that. She’s heard it all before. She will smile because her next action will be to leave.

Consider carefully the woman with this face. You thought you had broken her. But you were mistaken.

A Story of Vicious Beasts

The Tiger & the Dragon ran into each other at the temple one day. Tiger wanted to eat, but Dragon didn’t have any Tiger food. Dragon was bewildered by such a beast that could be so fierce but not eat the food of dragons.

Tiger stayed to worship anyway and Dragon gave a blessing. Tiger and Dragon both sought truth and holiness, believing them to be the same.

Dragon and Tiger became friends, although they were both mighty beasts and sometimes Dragon coughed up fire, singeing Tiger’s fur. Tiger would snarl and scratch at Dragon, whose scales were hard as diamond.

Tiger was strong, but Dragon was stronger.

Dragon was powerful, but Tiger looked like a kitty, and people were less afraid of her, sometimes. So sometimes Dragon was alone, seething smoke in his lair, while Tiger ranged all around the forest, making friends with other animals, and almost never eating them.

Dragon ate almost all his friends, which is why he was alone, except when Tiger came to the temple. Tiger was mostly not afraid of Dragon. Tiger was too big and vicious to eat.

One day Dragon and Tiger decided to put their power against the other in a friendly contest. Dragon snarled a glorious funnel of fire at Tiger, but she dodged it just in time and rolled away, her tail smoking but intact. Tiger leapt at Dragon’s back and grabbed his neck with her teeth, shaking his head like a rag doll. But Dragon needed only to spread his wings and take to the air to scare Tiger into loosening her grip. She let go, and landed with a thud on all four paws, shaken but alive.

Tiger could always dodge Dragon, but Dragon always had one more move. Tiger was fierce and cunning, but Dragon had magic. Dragon was always going to be more powerful.

“Fine, you win,” Tiger said, showing her belly, because Tigers, after all, are kitties.

To Tiger’s surprise, Dragon reared up and showed his belly, too. Then he slumped down under a tree next to Tiger and relaxed.

“Why?” asked Tiger, popping back into a defensive position.

“You are incapable of hurting me. I have nothing to prove to you, Tiger,” he sneered.

Tiger laughed. “Then why haven’t you roasted me and eaten me yet?”

Dragon’s proud snout drooped a little, and his fangs were less visible. “You are the only one who listens to me, Tiger.”

Tiger curled up under the tree, but she did not sleep in Dragon’s presence, not ever. She always had one eye open, and her whiskers straight out. Just in case.