The Lion

The lion crouched and remained still, silent, hidden skillfully within the tall, brown grass of the dry Kalahari dessert. His mane, usually large and boastful was now nothing more than a small dried bush to the unknowing eye. There he lay quiet, in wait of the delicious gazelle only meters away. Should he pounce or should he be more patient and let the unsuspecting prey approach. How innocently succulent it looked, munching casually on the surrounding greener shrubs. Oh how tasty its meat would be, the lion thought. The thick red juice which flowed after he sunk his teeth into the gazelle's moist flesh would certainly satisfy the lion's diregarded hunger for the past 4 days.

While waiting, it occured to the lion that the gazelle would be a triumphant feast for his pride. Then, he remembered. He had no pride. He was outcast, outsmarted and over-thrown by his own son who had returned in full vigor; younger and 2 elephants more powerful than his present form. Contemplating his fate, the lion wondered, what would be of his much loved cubs, the ones he fathered later? Would they still remain untouched or would fate be cruel enough to throw them into the jaws of the ungrateful one. But such was life in this cruel land, the cycle of life, fate and death.

It angered the lion, but he knew the day would come when his throne would be challenged. But the thought of innocent blood spilled had not been weighted in his expectations and now, these memories were a burden he would carry till his dying days. Every mouse, fawn, antelope and fly the lion caught would remind him of his children and it hurt his chest deeply, which was strange he thought, since many times while cleaning himself he had discovered no wound there. What was it that brought this pain then? He couldn't understand it and he surrendered to the fact that it was something he would never be able to comprehend.

The lion shuddered from the familiar dull ache. His tightening skin and the rippling movements of his fur suddenly jolted him from his disillusioned senses. When his sharp irises focused, he saw that his prey was standing upright and alert. The lion quickly regained control over every inch of muscle in his lean, unfed body. If he was able to remain still enough, he would once again disappear from the gazelle's peaked senses. He waited once more, but it was futile. Much to the lion's dismay, the gazelle had opted to graze further from the suspected spot and slowly walked away from the lion.

There was no more waiting now. He had to pounce and grab his meal. If he let this chance go, he wasn't sure when his next meal would stroll near him again. He wouldn't be able to survive much longer without another bite to eat and the piranhas in his stomach were growing aggressively impatient. The lion focused his attention to his hind legs, winding himself up and then, he took a giant leap into the air. Bang! Panic filled his nerves. When his feet reached the ground the lion broke into a mad dash. He didn't know what he was running from or why but he knew danger. The smell of it was thick, ugly and putrid like a hyena's carcass filled with wriggling maggots and poisonous fungus.

Bang! He lost control of his right hind leg and fell. He closed his eyes in reflex but could feel every stone his loose frail skin collected as he skidded across the ground's rough surface. The pain was intense and it forced tears from his eyes. When he had halted, he opened his eyes slowly. The first thing he saw was a small smoky cloud, created from the fine dessert sand being stirred by his shallow hard panting. His breaths were becoming shorter and quicker. He heard sounds of chattering and incomprehensible squawking that seemed like it was coming from large birds. They were standing over him but he couldn't turn his head, he had no strength nor the will to. He tried to struggle, to move his limbs but soon, even the feel of pain disappeared.

But the pain was soon replaced by another menacing sensation. It was as if the air was growing heavier with every breath he took and it weighed upon his chest like a large boulder. Perhaps this was what death was like, perhaps he was dying. The weight grew too much for the lion to bear and he took his last breath, exhaled and gave up breathing. As his vision slowly faded, his eyes caught the site of a brilliant green sprout, its head peeping valiantly through the dry soil. Finally, blackness clouded him and despite the inevitable darkness, the lion felt at peace with the thought that in death, life is born.