who Claudette knew

when she closed her eyes she didn’t see what other girls saw . . .

No swans with chocolate flowing down their tufted backs

No lady bugs dancing to salsa music on their way to green leaf-topped castles

Flowery petals in the wind hid from her mind.

Even the perfect ponies of every little girl’s eye was not be found inside of hers.

When Claudette rested her lids in the middle of lunch time at school she saw very different things

When her mind became her movie theatre in the sunshine it was a different sort of ticket needed to view the characters which populated there.

For Claudette saw villains. The moment her eyes left the children and shrubbery which physically encased her person at any given time, Claudette could behold the monsters dancing around them all.

The strange thing for the counsellors who would visit with Claudette, in exchange for her parents’ money, was that no greatly painful thing could be found to analyze in her young growing up.

Her parents still married, her house still picketed with white fence, her grades approvable, her friendships tender and in tact.

Nobody did violence in her home, not even through shouting.

And yet the fiends did populate her mind.

There was a jackal who’d keep stabbing himself in the knees with a salad fork. There was a very old prisoner whose eyes would burn with green and red fire. And there was the man with a rhinoceros face. He would lie to her about every single thing she knew to be truth, and he did it with the savvy arguments of a wall street lawyer.

These were her plagues, her young little crosses to carry. And no one knew why.

Why should adorable, pleasant, kind-hearted Claudette be visited by such trespassers loitering her child’s mind?

But strangely enough Claudette didn’t complain or worry in the same fashion as all of the people related to her tiny heart and tiny frame.

Not to say she never cried or startled violently. For these things did frighten her, even once to a terrible whimper. But she had a tool the others did not seem to have.

She had heard of Jesus on many of her sundays where nobody else seemed to pay much attention. And she had decided early on that he was not like santa clause. But rather, his lap, while invisible, was actually available. His ears could hear. And tho he didnt’ give whatever you asked if you were good like saint nick. He did listen and care and lend himself to your direst needs.

And that’s what she did, this little girl, when the daemons would dance in her brains.

She just talked with them about her friend the galilean. They would listen. Sometimes they’d run or disappear. And often they would start or whimper.

She wasn’t trying to battle them, like those she told about them thought. She was just trying to navigate a whirlwind the best she knew how.

And Jesus didn’t seem to mind walking with her.

And he certainly wasn’t afraid of her werewolves and limping scarecrows.

In fact, as she liked to tell it. He would call them each by name, with a gentle and strong voice.

And one of two things usually happened — and Claudette liked to watch it. Either the rhino-faced fellow would bow his knee.

— Or he’d scamper away like a little girl.

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