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Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Microstory 1747: Little Lion

I’m a nomadic lion, which means that I don’t belong to a pride. This is not by choice, as it is for most of my kind. I was the runt of the family, so my mother rejected and abandoned me. I should have died in the wild, having never learned how to survive, but I figured it out. I figured out what to eat, and what not to. I taught myself how to hunt, and where to find water. If only my mom could see me now. I’m full-grown, but not much larger than I was before, relatively speaking. You might think that makes it harder on me, but I have found it to be an advantage. Prey animals think of me as a baby, and while they are worried about mama being around here somewhere, they always underestimate me. Yes, it’s harder for me to run and pounce, but I don’t have to when my meal doesn’t consider me too much of a threat, and lets me get close before becoming worried about it. Yes, I’m doing okay, all things considered. I wouldn’t say this is a great life, and I doubt I’ll ever find a suitable mate, but at least I’m alive, and I understand how to keep myself that way. I will say that I’m fairly sick of it, wandering around without the protection or companionship of others. I’ve made a few attempts to join other prides, but they always run me off. They would kill me if, again, they thought I was any real threat. They don’t think I deserve to share in the food we would catch together. They don’t think I can contribute, and that’s not fair. They have no idea what I have to offer. I’ve decided to give up, and focus on being the best version of my lonesome self. If no one else can appreciate me, then I guess I have to work extra hard to make sure I appreciate myself, and maintain my self-esteem. It’s their loss.

One day, I’m walking over the grasslands, trying to pick up the scent of a sounder of warthogs. They’re pretty mean and rowdy, but they’re smaller than giraffes, so they’re kind of all I can handle on my own. My nose picks up something. I don’t know what it is yet, but it’s not a warthog. I keep going, and pretty quickly realize it to be the blood of my own kind. Another lion is hurt nearby, and I feel compelled to go investigate. I really shouldn’t. It’s none of my business, I don’t know how I could help them, and it’s not like they would try if our roles were reversed. I can’t help it, though. I have to find out what happened. Perhaps some super predator has shown up, and I’m in danger here. That is a good enough reason for me to follow the trail, right? As I draw nearer, I imagine the horrific crime scene I’m about to encounter. Blood and guts everywhere, I don’t know which parts connect to which other parts. Vultures feasting on the remains. But that’s not what it is. It’s a female, probably around my age. She’s injured enough to not be able to move on her own, but she’s not drenched in her own blood. I instinctively begin to lick her wounds. When the vultures actually do come, I scare them off with my pathetic excuse for a roar. It wouldn’t be good enough to impress another lion, but the birds are sufficiently disturbed. I continue to watch over the lioness as her cuts heal on their own. She won’t tell me what happened to her, but I get the impression that she too had some kind of falling out with her pride. Once she’s well enough, we walk together to a safer location, where I can leave her to hunt. I drag carcasses back to our den to keep her fed. It’s a lot of work for a little guy like me, but I make it work. One day, she runs off without even a thank you, and I figure that I’ll never see her again. But then she comes back with a carcass of her own as what she calls the thank you. Then we start our family.

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