Not Such a Tame Lioness
Day graded into night, graded into day. Taki law awake through the reign of stars and moon, enjoying the cool as it crept over the Savannah. The dark-time sounds, once so frightening, now excited her. The confinement of the pen she slept in grated. In the morning, the handler always came, snapped on her leash, and took her for ever-lengthening walks over rolling golden hills. The leash had also begun to irritate her. The man was slow, and she feeling the strength of youth and wildness in her body, longed to run — as she ran after her food each evening.
Now as she watched the Land Cruiser bounce down the barely-there “road” it had by now created for itself, Taki smelled the scent of a herd of gazelles drifting over the plains. That strange, thrilling sensation of excitement washed over her. She leaped up, clawing at the door, anxious — wild even — to be let out. The man’s hand was on the latch, he standing behind the door, but the leash was not in sight. He opened the door and watched as Taki, wild with desire and need, lunged through it and toward the scent that maddened her.
She ran with abandon, with everything in her and all the oxygen her lungs could deliver to her pounding heart. The gazelles escaped with their weak ones and their young, but Taki had learned. Next time . . . as she ambled back toward where she knew the man would be, Taki surprised a small furry thing and pounced at it. It disappeared into the ground. She wasn’t really hungry, but she would like to have caught it all the same.
Crowning the next hill, Taki saw the man, sitting on the back of his vehicle and drinking the steamy, nasty smelling stuff he always brought with him. Despite the smell, its presence made her remember her thirst. The spring the man always walked her by was a long way off. Perhaps he had brought water for her.
Perhaps he had, but when she approached him, he did not offer it. Instead, he turned and walked away; Taki followed. She couldn’t yet smell the spring, but she sensed they were heading in that direction. If she hadn’t been so hot and so tired from her run, she would have rushed out ahead of him, but Taki settled for walking companionably by his side. The water, when they reached it, was exceeding sweet and wild. The water that came from the big white bucket seemed poor and weak and tame in comparison. Taki rolled her eyes in pleasure as she drank deeply, then with a shudder of satisfaction, eased soundlessly into the shade and concealment of a patch of brush for a long nap. The man waited, having found his own shade, and listened to the song of the breezes around them.
Supper didn’t come that night. Had the man brought it? He always did, but this time there was no game of chase the meat with the Land Cruiser, and though the man led her into her pen, she noticed that he did not latch the door before he left.
The story continues . . . Taki Goes Home (5): Solitary, but not Alone