“Dad. Dad! I saved your life!”
My eyes blinked away suddenly, and I quickly became aware of my surroundings, out of a sudden sleep. I was in my room, in my bed. It was dark still, cold with the window open, and I could hear birds outside, so I assumed it was early morning. My eyes flashed to the clock and I saw it was 5 am. I shifted my attention suddenly to my five year old, A, standing at my bedside.
“I saved your life, dad,” he repeated himself, waiting for me to acknowledge him.
“What do you mean you saved my life?” I asked. I was surprised he hadn’t awakened me. On nights when my sons are here, I’m hyper-aware of every sound. A squeak of the bed, a car horn, a scratching on the wall, the sound of their door opening… I usually shoot awake before they can get out of bed. But he had snuck into the room without me noticing. His brother must still be in the next room sleeping.
“Well, it’s simple.” He raised his voice a little bit, full of a quiet morning energy. He had been burning to share this information with me, and I guessed it was all based on a dream he had had. “I heard some bad guys outside of the house, so I waked up and became a super hero to save your life. I growed a cape and a mask and I flied out the bathroom window and I fighted all the bad guys away with my fists!” He punched the air as he pressed his body down into a fighting crouch, springing up to uppercut an imaginary villain.
Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I sat up a bit in bed, turning to face him. I reached a hand out in the grey dark room and rubbed a finger against his cheek in an ‘i-love-you’ line. “Oh, you turned into a super hero, and then you saved my life? Thank you, son. What was your super hero name?”
He furrowed his brow and narrowed his eyes, giving his fiercest ‘tough guy’ look, and then lowered his voice to a harsh whisper, speaking like Batman does in the old animated series we watch together sometimes.
“Oh, that’s easy. My name was Bloodkill.” He emphasized the first part, then drew out the last syllable a bit, making it sound more dramatic. He shot away from my hand, doing some uncoordinated gymnastics, moving about the side of my bed with a few crouches, kicks, and punches to the air again. Oh to have that kind of energy at 5 am.
Wait, strike that. I don’t want that kind of energy at 5 am.
“Bloodkill?” I yawned, stifling a smile.
“Yes. And Bloodkill hunts!” He still had his Batman voice.
I turned on my side, laying down, my head propped up on my elbow now, and yawned again.
“Listen, buddy, thank you for saving my life. But it is way to be someone named Bloodkill. Can you think of a nicer super hero name for the early morning time?”
A stood now, flummoxed momentarily. “Well,” he negotiated, “I can be Bloodkill later, how about I can be the Killer Shark Man!”
I smiled. “Something a little nicer maybe.”
“Well, I can’t be a zombie or a vampire then. Maybe I can think of something.”
“How about a different animal man?” I asked. “You know, like Batman or Catwoman, but a different animal that hasn’t been used before.”
He put a finger against his lip, thinking briefly. “I’ll be Bobcat Man!”
I smiled. “Perfect. What is Bobcat Man’s powers?”
“Well,” now A was climbing up into the bed with me, finally looking for his morning cuddles. He spoke quickly as he climbed. “Bloodkill could fly from his cape and he had sharp claws on his gloves and some weapons on his belt. But Bobcat Man is kind of the same except different. He has his own claws and he is so fast in the air and on the ground, and he can turn little or big but not too big. And, well, he can still have a cape.”
He laid against me now, his little body fitting perfectly, his head on my chest, his arms around me, his legs stretched all the way down to my knees.
“That’s perfect,” I smiled. “Thanks again for saving my life. But how come you are up so early, buddy?”
“Well, I wanted to tell you all that, but maybe we can cuddle and go back to sleep now.”
Soon he was softly snoring against me. The room was still dark and the birds still chirping, and I was smiling silently about Bloodkill and Bobcat Man having adventures in his brain.