All summer I made friends with the creatures nearby --- they flowed through the fields and under the tent walls, or padded through the door, grinning through their many teeth, looking for seeds, suet, sugar; muttering and humming, opening the breadbox, happiest when there was milk and music. But once in the night I heard a sound outside the door, the canvas bulged slightly ---something was pressing inward at eye level. I watched, trembling, sure I had heard the click of claws, the smack of lips outside my gauzy house --- I imagined the red eyes, the broad tongue, the enormous lap. Would it be friendly too? Fear defeated me. And yet, not in faith and not in madness but with the courage I thought my dream deserved, I stepped outside. It was gone. Then I whirled at the sound of some shambling tonnage. Did I see a black haunch slipping back through the trees? Did I see the moonlight shining on it? Did I actually reach out my arms toward it, toward paradise falling, like the fading of the dearest, wildest hope --- the dark heart of the story that is all the reason for its telling?