“Dear Morning Star, I am the Meerkat of the South Desert. Would you grant me one wish, as you’ve granted those who’ve laid their eyes on you? I do not want to ask for much, as I am but a lowly being, but this is one request I must make. For just three days, let me be-”
There is power in prayer.
Disturbed by my cousin’s restless sleep, I was awakened an hour short of dawn. As I tried to find a comfortable spot away from him, to catch a few more minutes of shut-eye, I caught a glimpse of a twinkling star. It was unlike any other. Streaks of pale orange had formed across the sky, washing away the common twinkles of the night. But the Morning Star, the one rumoured by many to be a God, pierced through the glow and radiated in its own sparkle. To even see it in one’s lifetime was considered a miracle. And I saw it.
Scurrying outside for a better look, I only took a couple of seconds to admire its beauty. Then shutting my eyes, I said my prayer. It was an odd prayer, I know. I could only hope the Morning Star would hear my plea and grant me my wish. When I finally opened my eyes, after an extra minute of self-doubt, the Morning Star was gone. But despite it leaving, without even twinkling goodbye, I had hope. That very same night, I took my place beside my cousin, ready for an adventure.
Morning came quickly in a dreamless sleep. When I awoke, a smile crept up my face. My prayer was answered. My wish had come true. I had three days to live as a lion – the almighty king of the South Desert. My claws were sharp and ready for a hunt, my nose picked up the scent of breakfast, and my mane blown by the wind was the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had. I had no regrets. I was going to enjoy three days basking in a lion’s fearless glory. But then, my worst nightmare took form.
“What are you doing?” she asked. I don’t know how I understood her – her roar. I just did. “You have a fight today. Get up and eat your share of the catch.”
Afraid to say the wrong words, I followed after her to the antelope lying motionless on the warm sand. None of the lions in our pride had taken a bite, not even the alpha; whichever the alpha is.
“Eat and make us proud,” she said.
I hesitated. I’d never tasted raw flesh before, and the idea of consuming it made my stomach turn. Still, all eyes were on me. Gathering the courage of what a lion should have, I took my first and last bite, before retreating.
“Eat more,” she ordered, so firmly I would’ve ran for my life in my true identity.
“I’m done,” I said – a thought manifested as a growl.
“Then you must go,” she replied.
Go where, I didn’t know. I’ve learned about lions, so I could only guess what that day was. And even if my guess was correct, where was the other pride resting? How strong was its alpha? Could I beat him? I may look like a lion, but I was not a real lion. Barely an hour after thanking the Morning Star for granting my wish, I was already praying to go back to yesterday.
“I can’t go.” My thoughts became my words.
The lioness tilted her head and narrowed her gaze. She looked confused, as though I’d spoken in a foreign tongue. Did I?
“Are you afraid?” she asked.
Immediately, she snapped her jaws and my paws instinctively shuffled backward.
“What nonsense is this? Go!” she roared. “I didn’t raise you to be a coward. Go!”
A coward. Being a lion didn’t make me less of a coward, it seems.
“Then that is your problem.”
The lioness turned away and gathered her curious cubs. When she did, the pride followed suit. They feasted on the antelope, ignoring me as I watched them. Once they were done, they left.
I was too much of a coward to follow after them. I was afraid the males would attack me if I did. So I planted myself until night arrived. My hope was to wait for the Morning Star to petition my return. That was all I could do as a coward. One that is also quick to give up. When the Morning Star finally made its first twinkle, it graciously answered my prayer.
Today, I’m a meerkat – the small, beady-eyed, creature that sleeps in a hole. I am me again. Happily me. I know there’s something to learn from my day as a lion. But unfortunately, my mind cannot accept the revelation of my journey. I always thought the bigger you are, the more courage you had. Am I wrong? The thought of it otherwise baffles me. Maybe next time, when I happen to gaze upon the Morning Star again, I will say a better prayer. I will ask to be a man. After all, they’re bigger, and without a doubt, braver.
Meerkat, star, and days were words given by thinkingoverload. When I first started writing this piece, I had no idea what the ending would be. And usually, that’s not something I practice. I like to know where the story would go before hitting the keyboard. Strangely, I surprised myself today… because hey, it didn’t turn out so bad. That’s what impromptu writing can do.
Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. Just go ahead and write away. Don’t think or be afraid to sway. Because who knows… you’ll create a good story today.
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3 Words, 1 Story © 2016 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)