a summer writing club original
Born & Raised a Lion
CHAPTER
1
I’m a Lion and I Know It
You frolick around your cage, licking your paws indignantly at other kittens. They are beneath you, because you are not a mere kitten—you are firmly convinced you are a lion. You were born to be a lion. You have the fur, and the sharp teeth. But you are not large, and as much as you think you are fierce, you are not.
You are only a small, ratty kitten trapped in a tiny glass enclosure in the world’s dirtiest pet store. You may seem tough to the other kittens, and emotionless to the customers you turn your back on, but you are still only a cute, fuzzy kitten, born to be a house cat and prey on Meow Mix day after day until you become a chubby old tabby and die on a doorstep.
Today is an oddly different day, though. Today, when a group of small children, about nine years of age, walk up to the glass window of the shop, you do not turn your back and pretend they are not there. Today, you walk to the glass, turn on your back, and give a cute kitten show like adorable kittens should. Today, you abandon your lion-hood for a few minutes and become a kitten in the window of a pet shop waiting to be bought and wanting to be bought. Today, you show know signs of lion ancestry except for a single hearty meow.
Today, somebody buys you.
Business is slow at the shop. So far, nobody has stopped to admire the other showcasing kittens or the puppies next door. You are happy about that; gogglers hardly ever buy anything, anyway. They just want to look upon the gloriousness of a kitten-lion everyday for free. You think of the crashing economy Logan, the shopkeeper, always speaks about, and you wonder if the free glances are causing it to crash.
After a pitiful morning, lunch rolls around. The sun peaks high in the sky, soaring above the shop, giving a perfect spotlight to you and the other kittens. Sunshine dances off your water bowl, creating small rainbows and glowing straw.
Finally, a small girl pulls her mom to the window of the shop. She points at you, gurgling the distorted words, “Mommy, look!”
You do not like the little girl. She seems irresponsible, the type that would sit on you if she didn’t look before seating her butt. You do not like her, so you turn around and poop on the straw. The girl emits a small “Ewww,” and walks away with her mother.
About an hour later, a clique of three boys and three girls presumably in the third grade come and goggle.
There are two blonde girls giggling over Phela, who is pretending to take a nap, and Sia, who is as small as a thumb tack. You do not like them. They are not worthy of a lion.
There is another girl with short brown hair that they call Felicity, who seemed to be afraid of you. She would take short glimpses at the window, and her eyes would widen and turn away. Some of them attempt to comfort her, but she is not convinced that us kittens are really as cuddly as we seem.
There are two boys watching Jamal and Howard drink out of the milk bowl. I never drink out of the milk bowl—lions only drink elegantly from watering holes. The boys have brown hair, and they appear to be twins, with matching jackets of different color: green and orange.
There is also a small Asian boy with black hair and dark blue eyes. He looks at you. You surge with pride: he is looking at you! As you smile inwardly about being noticed, something strange happens. You are compelled to strut and show off, roll around and even take a few swipes at other kittens. You see he is impressed, so you press your nose to the window and stare at the boy.
The boy stares back at you. His eyebrows lift as he presses his hands to the window glass. You give your biggest meow, just to show him how tough a cat you are. The toughest! A lion, even! “This one,” you hear him tell his friends as he points a chubby finger at you. “I’m gonna adopt this one!”
And you are happy that you are wanted, that someone is excited about owning you. You get your first glimpse of kitten-hood in that moment, and you love it. For the first time, you embrace your kitten-hood. But in a moment as short as the aforementioned, you deny kitten-hood. You are a lion, and you cannot be belittled. A lion does not roll around and put on a show. And you are ashamed of your behavior. A true lion would never behave in that manner. And you swear to never do it again, to make the boy regret loving you.

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Chapter 2

Phela, Here. Jamal, Here. Howard, Here. Sia, Here. Lion...

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