“Dad,” she whispered. “Daddy, wake up.”
I opened my eyes. My daughter’s face was centimeters from my nose. “What?” I mumbled. It was still dark.
“Dad, Eagle Girl is here.”
“Eagle Girl, Dad. She’s here to protect you from the dragon.”
I jerked awake. “Dragon? Where?”
“Shh,” she admonished. “You don’t want it to hear you. Besides, Eagle Girl is here.”
My daughter, four, had recently created an alter ego by the name of Eagle Girl. She did this because her cousin, a boy, was rapturously in love with Spiderman. Eagle Girl though, or so my daughter said, was infinitely better than Spiderman.
Eagle Girl was half eagle and half lion. She could fly and run. She could speak to elves and dance. Eagle Girl was a voracious eater of ice cream, but, surprisingly, hated peas. She was big, but not too big, and when she wanted to, she could make herself as small as a thimble. The best thing about Eagle Girl though, was that she was a unicorn. I tried my best to untangle this amazing fact, but to no avail. Eagle Girl, my daughter insisted, was half eagle, half lion, and all unicorn. And how, exactly, did Eagle Girl identify as a unicorn? “Well,” my daughter would say, “because she has a corn on her head.”
“So,” I was back in bed on a dark night, “what is Eagle Girl going to do with this dragon?”
“Hmm,” my daughter placed a slender finger on her chin, “I think she will tickle her.”
“The dragon is a girl?”
“And Eagle Girl is going to tickle her?”
My daughter cocked her head, “Sword?”
“Nevermind,” I said, drawing the covers over my head. “That sounds like a good plan. Do you need me or can I go back to bed now?”
“I need you.”
“Well,” she said, “because Eagle Girl is afraid of the dark.”
“Okay,” I slid out of bed and snatched up Eagle Girl, “let’s go.” We shuffled to her room, navigating our hallways by the shallow glow of nightlights. I kicked open her door and dumped her into bed. “Does Eagle Girl need me to sleep with her?”
“Maybe. I think so.”
I lifted Eagle Girl’s covers and crept into bed alongside of her.
As I finally started to drift asleep, my daughter whispered into my ear: “Dad, Eagle Girl needs water.”