"The Things You Learn From a Llama" by Shashana Pearson-Hormillosa

I just saw a llama walk into my kids’ school.

On its feet were tiny anklets, tinkling bells made of brass. Each step it took, it tinkled, until the tinkle became a ring. The ring kept right on ringing, until the singing was the thing.

And then that llama spit.

Nailed me right between the eyes. And looked at me with such disdain, I felt that I should cry. Why a llama would hate me so, when we've never even met, is the mystery to beat all mysteries, and one I never will forget.

He saw me walking toward him, as I moved my mouth to say, “We have no space for llamas here; will you please be on your way!”

He must've seen it coming, must have known the awful truth. That deep inside, I was seized with pride, and my heart was closed—poof!

“You’re not wanted. You’re unwelcome. What business have you here? We have no need for llama things, for heedless, needless, drama things. We have no space for your tinkling things…won’t you please just go AWAY?!”

But that llama did not move. Did not bat one single eye. Did not turn and walk away. And I began to cry.

I did not mean to do it. I meant to hold my ground. But that little llama looked at me as if he knew my soul. I couldn't help myself; the tears began to flow.

His disdain was just reflecting my broken, crooked heart. They way I kept myself together by tearing others apart.

The spit came next, then a softening—a reckoning, so to speak. The llama wasn't the stranger one; it was I who was the freak.

My heart had known its share of trouble, of loving things too soon. And so to keep it safe, I’d built a heart cocoon.

The walls were made of ice, forged from the strongest matter. But, I failed to realize that my wrapped-up heart inside was actually very shattered.

The waterworks began as the ice capades got started. And all that melting made me grow far more tenderhearted.

I knew the time was right to pull myself together. I softened my approach and asked instead about the weather, “How goes it in the tropics of Lima, Peru? Is it just as hot as here? Is it hot enough for you?”

He seemed to understand my change, though he uttered not a word. And as he sauntered past, the singing ringing from his bells could once again be heard.

Shashana Pearson-Hormillosa is a current student at DCH. She spends her days wrangling children, avoiding housework, and hustling for acting or writing gigs. One day she’ll make her life easier by changing her name to Shashana O’Shanahan.

(Photo credit: Jennifer Vanek)