"Musings of a Tiger"


"Stellar Heart Reflects"

Author's note: This story is written in the style of a journal entry, which is essentially what it is. Stellar Heart is sitting at his desk at around midnight, and a few things are on his mind...

I'm nervous. I'm VERY nervous. Tomorrow, things will change forever.

I am Stellar Heart Tiger, formerly 'Lysander'. I hated that name. HE gave me that name. I found out later that the name 'Lysander' is mentioned in William Shakespear's play, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. I find it ironic that a man who would abuse animals could think of himself as 'cultured', but Richard Savage did. Named most of his Circus animals after Shakespearian characters.

But those days are over, thankfully. My introduction into the Care Bear Family was almost as frightening as my Circus life. Not because they treated me badly. Far from it! But because I was painfully shy. Still am sometimes, but the kindness of my new family is helping to cure me of that.

I have been living in the Kingdom of Caring for about a year and a half, and in that short time period I've learned a great deal. The Cousin Call...now, THERE'S a thing that takes a lot of practice to master! My first attempt at target practice knocked me flat on my tail, but I heard that this is normal. Then I had to learn to trust humans; this was the hardest thing of all. I had grown up with a deep understanding that humans were cruel, and even though the waitress at the Pizza Hut restaurant we went to that first day seemed friendly enough, I still wanted nothing to do with them. I had no choice; I simply HAD to get over these feelings, or I'd be a failure as a Care Bear Cousin.

This is where Regal Heart Lioness comes into the picture. Ah, Regal Heart! At once beautiful and kind, but with a fiery temper and a stubborn nature that she uses to her advantage. I find it admirable that she channels that stubbornness into her job of helping children on Earth. She never gives up. I know; she didn't give up on ME. She even taught me to read and write, and she complimented me on how quickly I picked it up. Yes, Brave Heart's sister is a rare girl. She's been a great comfort to me, and I love her dearly. I'm a bit sensitive anyway, but when I first came here, I was a weepy mess. It's embarrassing now, but I couldn't help it. I had gone through so much, seemingly for nothing...in fact, a year before my escape, my littermate Macbeth had died from a severe beating, which I had witnessed from my cage. It hadn't effected me as much as it would now, but thinking back on it, it brings pain.

Savage had showed no remorse at all when I finally confronted him on my second day as a Care Bear Cousin. I literally felt crushed, like my heart had been stepped on...it just wasn't fair. Confronting him had not been satisfying, but had simply left me feeling worse, almost empty. My Call had gotten away from me, ending the confrontation sooner than I really wanted it to end. I wanted to yell at him, threaten him, make him feel what I felt...instead, my Call knocked him out, and he ended up taking a nap. I suppose it was a good thing, though. I don't know what I would have done if my Call hadn't slipped.

I remember later on, asking Regal why she had encouraged me to cry that day. It made no sense to me, since I doubted that she had liked it, but she had only smiled, saying, "Well...no, I didn't like it, because you were unhappy. If you keep such strong feelings of sadness under tight control, it'll just keep picking at you until it eventually breaks free. It's good to get it off your chest, you know?"

I didn't know, but I do now.

My troubles weren't over, though. Three days after Savage was taken into custody, I was still having terrible nightmares of flaming hoops and burning torches. I was still afraid of humans, but there were none around. The big problem was the DREAMS. After the third night, I couldn't bring myself to go to bed. I lasted three nights more without any sleep before it finally caught up with me, and I fainted during Tummy Symbol Practice. I was rushed to Take Care's office for what they thought was heatstroke, but when my temperature came up normal, Regal became suspicious.

After I had passed out, I had slipped into sleep...and the worst and shortest nightmare of them all. Now, I still haven't told anyone about this, not even Regal Heart; fire had always frightened me, but Savage did something once that made that fear permanent. He hit me with a burning torch. In my dream, a burning torch the size of a redwood was falling towards me in slow motion, and I couldn't move. Needless to say, I woke up screaming. Hands touched me, and I flailed out in a panic; my paw hit something with a smacking noise, and I heard a yelp.

Regal. I HAD STRUCK REGAL! I remember staring at her in shock as she held her cheek, and then I remember just bursting into tears. She reached for me, but I rolled over to face the wall. I couldn't believe what I had just done! Accident or not, I had just hit the girl I loved across the face. Though I tried to avoid her paws, she insisted. A moment later I had rolled over again, and I cried on her for a long time. The fact that she wasn't angry about it almost made it worse.

"You didn't mean to do it, Stellar...it was an accident." she told me, "It didn't even hurt; it just surprised me."

I looked up, and said, "You swear?"

To which she replied, smirking, "No, but I know all the words."

I had to laugh a little at that one. She then asked me why I hadn't been sleeping at night. Even though it was a confrontation, it didn't really feel like one. I told her about my nightmares, and how I was afraid to sleep, and she simply put her arms around me and held me for a time. I still get red in the face when I remember how emotional I was back then. I'm much more stable these days.

"You need your sleep, Stel." she told me after we had sat there for a half-hour, "You'll make yourself sick if you go on the way you have been. It's already started with you passing out. The dreams will stop on their own. I know they can be scary, but they're not real. They can't hurt you unless you let them."

Well, I knew she was right...but I was still afraid. Even as I lay there, I could feel my eyelids drooping. I fought to stay awake. "I...I have to get back...training." I said, or something kind of like that.

"No you don't." she told me, "Brave Heart's giving you the next two days off to recover, and you know him. He doesn't take 'no' for an answer." she winked, and continued, "Besides, you really need to take a nap."

"But..." I protested, rubbing my eyes to wake them up a bit.

"I'll stay with you." she told me, "If you have another nightmare, I'll be right here when you wake up. Okay?"

I had no energy left to argue. My brain was a foggy mess, and the thought of her being there when I woke was comforting. "Okay..."

She was sitting up beside me on the little hospital bed, and she let me rest my head on her tummy as I finally gave up. I remember falling asleep with her paw resting on the back of my head as she held me, and I dimly remember saying, "I love you." I don't remember if she answered me or not.

My nightmare was terrible, but she was there when I woke up. Just like she promised. In time, the nightmares did stop.

As for my fear of humans, it was surprisingly easy to overcome. When I had been in the Kingdom of Caring for about two weeks, Regal Heart came to me and said we were going down to Earth. When I asked her why, she said, "I have a semi-emergency Caring Mission, and I think you should come with me."

"But...I don't know..." I said, trying to get out of it.

"Stel, you can't avoid it forever...it's what we do..." she held out her paw to me, and after a moment's hesitation, I took it. I was running out of excuses, and I knew that she knew it. "It'll be fine," she told me, squeezing my paw, "trust me."

"I...I trust you." I managed a small smile.

She brought me down to Earth in her Cloudmobile, and my heart was pounding during the entire ride. 'No humans...' my mind kept telling me. 'No humans'.

She landed the car in a suburban neighborhood, and sitting on the front stoop of one of the houses was a little girl; she was crying. She looked so small (she was shorter than I was) and helpless, nothing like Richard Savage. I found myself wanting to know what was the matter. Regal got out and went up to the girl, and in my curiosity, I followed.

"What's the matter?" asked Regal, putting a paw on the girl's shoulder.

The girl looked up. "You're...you're the Care Bear Cousins!"

"Well, we're some of them. What's your name?" asked Regal.

"Jenny..." the girl answered, "My puppy got out today...Mommy and Daddy can't find him..."

The girl began to cry again, and for a split second I felt an impulse to try and comfort her. I pushed it away.

Regal hugged Jenny, and asked, "What's your puppy's name?"

"Jamie..." the girl sniffled.

"What does he look like?" asked Regal.

"He's...he's brown and fuzzy."

Regal nodded, and turned to me. 'Oh no...' I thought. I knew what was coming.

"Stellar Heart, I'm going to look for Jenny's puppy from the air. Why don't you stay here and keep her company?"

Jenny turned those liquid eyes on me, and I couldn't bring myself to say 'no'. I bobbed my head once. "'Kay."

Jenny smiled through her tears, and for some reason I found myself smiling too. Regal kissed me on the cheek, said goodbye, then went up in the Cloudmobile and was gone.

I was alone with a human.

Little Jenny threw me for a loop. "Are you her boyfriend?"

I blinked, not sure what she meant exactly. "Um...I'm a boy, and she's my friend...um..."

Jenny looked down, sad about her missing puppy. What was I supposed to do? She said to keep Jenny company, but part of me was still afraid of this kid. I sat down where I was, on the lawn, about ten feet away from Jenny. My heart leapt to my throat when Jenny got up and approached me. My ears flattened themselves on my head, and my fur stood on end. I didn't move. Jenny sat down beside me.

"Howcome you're puffin' yourself up?" she asked me, "My brother's kitty does that when Jamie barks...are you scared?"

I decided that the simple truth was best. "Maybe a little..."

"Why?" she asked, not touching me, which I appreciated.

"Because...humans were mean to me." I told her, choosing my words very carefully.

"I'm not gonna be mean...I just want my puppy back..." she began to cry again, and launched herself into my arms, sobbing. After a split second's panic, I hugged her back. This was no evil monster! This was just a sad little girl, who loved and missed her puppy.

"It's...okay." I told her, feeling like a prized fool for not doing a better job of consoling her, "I'm sure your...your puppy is fine."

"Were the humans VERY mean?" she asked.

"One of them was...but I'm...starting to see that not all humans are like him." I replied.

"You're not scared anymore?"

"No...not anymore." I said, and I wasn't. I liked Jenny, something I definitely wasn't expecting. Regal Heart had known something like this would happen when she left, the clever girl!

A puppy barked directly above us, and Jenny gasped. "Jamie!"

Regal landed, and let the puppy out into the yard, where he tackled Jenny down and licked her face.

"Found him just trotting along the sidewalk." laughed Regal, coming over to us, "He was on his way home anyway; I just gave him a lift."

"Thank you, Regal Heart!" Jenny giggled, and I was surprised. Regal hadn't introduced herself...she had probably forgot in her hurry to find the missing puppy, but Jenny had known about her.

"You're welcome, Jenny."

Then Jenny turned to me, and hugged me again...yet another surprise. "Thanks for staying with me. I think you're a very nice tiger." she kissed my cheek, and I felt my face get very warm with a deep blush. I felt Regal's eyes on me the entire time.

"Well, we better be going, Jenny." said Regal.

"Wait," said Jenny, looking at me, "What's your name?"

Regal Heart had addressed me not long before, but I wasn't surprised that Jenny had forgotten. "Um...it's Stellar Heart Tiger." I told her.

"Okay. Bye, Stellar Heart! Bye Regal Heart!" she waved.

"Bye, keep caring!" Regal waved back as we got into the Cloudmobile, and moments later we were airborne.

I snickered, leaning back against the seat. "Sneaky."

She looked innocent, and pointed to herself. "Moi?"

"Yes, you." I laughed, "You planned that."

"I don't know what you're talking about." she said, but when she smiled and looked at me out of the corner of her eye, I could tell she knew exactly what i was talking about. "So...after today, are you still afraid of humans?"

"Well...I guess the small ones are okay." I said.

"It's mostly the small ones we see every day." she said reassuringly, "And not all big ones are bad. Many are nice."

"Guess so." I said, looking down.

"You just need more time." she said to me, "You took a really big step today."

After that day, it became easier and easier to face humans, until I actually enjoyed my work. That's what it is, really; work. The thing is, it doesn't really feel like work. We don't get paid in money, but we're given something far better than that; friendship and trust.

So, time passes, and my life just seems to be getting better and better. I keep waiting to wake up one morning, and discover that it was all just a wonderful dream...but you know what? That's not going to happen! The nightmare is over, and I can finally LIVE.

As I said in the beginning, it's been about a year and a half since I came to live here, and I'm nervous...but it's a good kind of nervous. Can you guess why?

Tomorrow, before the entire Care Bear Family, Regal Heart and I are getting married.