“Hey! I thought you wanted to see!” Leon protested, pulling away from the old tree, sitting back on his haunches.
“See what, dork? There’s nothin’ to see but your mama’s underwear.”
Reggie laughed, high and grating, the two other boys did the same before grabbing their bikes and heading down the dirt road.
Leon bent back to the hole in the tree, defeated. He’d lost his chance. If this secret wasn’t enough to get the bigger, cooler kids to accept him, nothing was.
“Where are you?” He whined to the tree, then hit the base with the heel of his hand, knowing instantly it was wrong. “Sorry,” he whispered.
Two green eyes glowed then and Leon’s heart skipped up into his throat.
“That’s it, come out, I won’t hurt you.”
He sat cross-legged on the dead grass and waited patiently, quietly.
The tongue darted out of the hole, its long purple loop tasting the air, once, twice, then again. Leon pressed himself down into the grass, as calm as his twelve year old body would allow.
Eventually the creature made its cautious way out of the hole. The massive paws reminded Leon of his Labrador Stella when she’d been young, big and bulky, although these were more catlike and covered in a dark green fur. Leon waited for what seemed an eternity before it finally came all the way out, its head slinking, its ears down.
“Come on, buddy,” Leon whispered and patted his lap. “It’ okay.”
The weight of it felt good when the creature finally turned a loop and dropped into Leon’s lap. He brushed his hand down the coat and watched in wonder as it turned a deep purple.
“Who needs those guys, anyway?” he whispered.
The creature purred in reply.