Mr. Lion

Publish date 06-08-2021

by Marco Grosseti

Mom is taking a shower. It is the moment.
We pick up the phone and dial the number, the one we asked the teacher, pretending it was just for fun.
They must know where dad is, they know everything. Maybe they even pass it to us and we can say hello. We just need to attack before mom gets back.

Dad left this summer, right with them. When a normal family loads the car and goes on vacation. The sea that we have never seen and the house from which we suddenly left one day. Why doesn't dad come with us? Why do those gentlemen change the key to the door? Where are we going? Can Mister Lion come with us?
We call the police because we just want to tell them we love them. It doesn't matter all the harm he did to mom in that house, all that only we could hear with our ears and see with our eyes. The secret that only we know and that no one else will ever know. We love him and we miss him to death. We don't know why he did those things that made Mom cry so much.

We can't forget the screams and the blows, the marks on his face, the objects flying from one part of the house to the other, us who made ourselves little ones in a corner behind the door holding tightly Mister Lion, pretending not to to see and not to hear. Every day we wake up self convincing ourselves that we don't know and don't remember anything. Because he can't be bad, he's our hero, our captain, our boss. He is dad. Good morning mister policeman, sorry for the inconvenience, can dad pass us? The last time we saw him he got in the car with you, you were kind enough to give him a ride, but we haven't found out where for yet. It's been a long time and we have so many things to tell him. We also made the backlog: there are two Christmas presents, one birthday and twenty-seven ice cream that he must have saved up for us. Holidays are not a problem, we never did those. You know, we would be in a bit of a hurry, mister policeman, mom is about to arrive and we have to attack, is he really sure he can't pass it on for even a minute? Is he doing a secret mission for you? Can you at least tell him that Mister Lion greets him so much?

At school we no longer understand anything because we always think about something, even if we don't know what. His head is full of sounds and noises and nothing goes into it. We see the teacher who continues to move her mouth and fill the blackboard with numbers and letters, but we can't even copy them onto the notebook. She once got mad and she even put a note on it, but we don't do it on purpose. We like to leave the sheet blank, even the verification sheet. It is so beautiful with no mark on it, with no one hurting it. Otherwise we just have to crumple it up, make scribbles, write the wrong things even if we know the right answers, leave a secret message for Mister Lion. The grown-ups beat other people, what harm do we do to mess with a notebook?

We tell a lot of stories because invented things are better than real ones. They hurt less. How do we defend ourselves, we who stand or sit are the same height and barely reach the door handle, a little larger than our briefcase and infinitely smaller than what we carry inside? What happened we must remove, obfuscate it, cover it with other memories, make it a lie, invent another truth. A story that allows us to laugh, breathe, live, exist. We enter a volcano that spits us out at the speed of light, we are the ammunition of a slingshot that launches us towards the sky and we open our parachute made of cushions for a soft landing. We take refuge in another world where everything is beautiful and we wait. Don't be in a hurry, Mr. Lion, our lion puppet, always says so, while he tickles us with his tail until we get a stomach ache from laughing. Someone will come to take us by the hand and make reality beautiful too.

Marco Grossetti
NP April 2021

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