By Amee Bohrer
*I wrote this several months ago. I’ve showed it to a few writer friends– and made a few small changes. Any feedback possible would be great– praise, questions, constructive criticism. Thank you.
A female lion wandered alone, away from her Pride.
She was designated the hunter. Yet, something called to her beyond her prescribed role within the pack. She was not designed to kill. Knowing the Pride expected of her what she refused to do, she stalked into the wild to find solace. She alerted no one, and chose herself.
She did not wait for nightfall. Escape was chosen in the morning. The silence and the expansive space quieted her unrest, and she felt a peace. The journey was not a dangerous one—but lonely.
Following only by instinct, she meandered the plain. She was vulnerable, having left behind the cover of tall grass. She fell to rest when needed. Rolled in the mud, dashed to water to overcome thirst.
She did not eat. She did not hunt. Yet her strength increased with time.
Constantly, she passed by meals upon which she could have feasted.
After two months of traveling alone, she came upon an abundant field. A quarter mile away, a male lion strode to a water buffalo carcass.
Each step was powerful, his shoulders regal. Until he glanced back and saw that finally, he was alone.
His posture drooped. He hung his head. His mane was now patchy from relentless battles, ripped out except for a few bloody tufts. But he smelled her.
His neck snapped into position—his eyes intent.
She was watching in the tall grass, still. Not afraid.
She advanced on him, her head low and making eye contact. She permitted a low growl.
He dropped his eyes and settled into a submissive posture, wanting to honor her.
He tossed his head toward the buffalo carcass, and with his left paw tore the ripe abdomen open.
He looked toward her, and crept backwards a few feet. Waited. This was extraordinary for him– his appetite was raging. He was usually the first one to eat– he didn’t wait for anyone. And he ate until he was full– if others went hungry, that was their problem. He had become aggressive in this way after a lifetime of constant war. He was used to bigger males stealing what was his, even the females. He had learned to hunt in this way– though now he rarely fought unless absolutely threatened, or he had something to prove. But when he wanted something, he was used to getting it. He seemed passive to most, part of his strategy.
But she saw this danger in him– and respected it. But why such humility from a strange male? She registered his offer—a gift. The flesh sang in her nostrils. Suddenly famished, she licked her teeth. A crippling urge to feast.
Inhaling, she took three strides forward. And then darted left—away from this suspicious gift. Away from the male making an offering—who smelled familiar.
It had been years since she had felt anything like doubt. She was used to forging ahead alone. She was respected and well-liked in her Pride at home, but desperately wanted something more. She was different than her family. They were content, and she was itching for a challenge. She appeared very stoic to most, as she began spending more time alone with age. She had a low tolerance for politics. She appeared compliant. But she showed her ferocity only to those who knew her most. To everyone else, she was detached. Cold.
Conflicted, she stopped and glanced back. He was watching her.
He looked different than he would have, but the musk taunted her. It was covered up a bit– he was wounded. Could that be Asha? It was so unlikely– she had thought he was dead. She had grieved him.
The blood was still drying, but it covered up his full smell. She couldn’t quite place who that male might be, but she wanted to go to him.-
Or attack him. She was tired of always winning. Sometimes she snarled at others, just looking for a worthy adversary. Even most males backed down from her–something about her intimidated them. It wasn’t her size– she was petite, even for a female.
It was her roar. She rarely had to defend herself physically– she was smart enough to evade trouble. But rarely, she would be overcome and would stand nearly paralyzed with energy. She was deaf in one ear, and compensated for this defect with a splendid roar– it was lower-pitched. Often, when others heard her in these moments, she was mistaken for a male.
She, too, was an Alpha. She longed to roar as loud as she was able.
A loud shot exploded nearby.
Frightened by this unidentifiable threat, she glanced directly at the male– and leaped. Dusk was falling.
In a nearby tree, she took cover and settled into a restless sleep.