THE LION AND THE OWL
by Kaylie, age 13
Many centuries ago, there was a boundary between the warm and the cold. The warm, the south, was teeming with creatures of all sizes–zebras, elephants, lions, gazelle. There were snakes and bats and lizards crawling under cool rocks. The animals lived off of each other. Every day, it was either eat or be eaten. The zebras and gazelle fought over the prairie grass, the bats and lizards quarreled over who got the bugs, and the lions dueled amongst themselves over the tastiest morsels in the fields.
The cold–the north–was very, very different. Snow covered towering pine trees, creating something of a deciduous forest. Snowy owls dipped their wings over the slopes, packs of wolves hunted together, and white foxes burrowed down in their dens. It was more of a harmonious place than the south was; all of the animals were wise and understood how delicate life was. They each had their place, their role, and took it dutifully.
Each biome continued to thrive. One day, a lion from the south roamed away from his pride to find better, fatter prey. He followed a wind that rustled his mane. It seemed to be calling him. The lion pounded away, chasing the wind, until he came to a shocking sight. Something white was covering the ground and floating in the air… something… cold. The lion pressed a paw into the fluff and pulled back quickly–it was freezing! A large print was left in the snow. The lion chuckled at finding such a strange place. He gathered the courage to venture on in hopes of finding something to appease his groaning belly.
The snowy owl had just left her nest. She had laid four perfect eggs in a bunch on the ground, carefully hidden from sight. They were due to hatch any day now. She swooped off to find something warm to weave into her nest. Soon the owl had found a few nice pine needles, and was just about to turn back, when she saw large and unfamiliar prints in the ground, leading straight to her hatchlings. The owl hooted loudly and took off in the direction of the prints, the pine needles scattering in the air below her.
It wasn’t too long before the proud lion came across a nest on the ground. It was obviously a mother’s poor attempt at hiding her children–four pink bodies with tufts of gray fur, spilling out of their home. He was amused at first; the hatchlings were stumbling over themselves, but this soon changed when he felt the grumbling deep in the pits of his stomach. The lion selected the plumpest bird, and was just about to swallow it when a large white mass of feathers hurled out of the sky and came screeching down on his head. “ROOOOOOOAARR!!!!” He shouted. In the hullabaloo, he dropped the owlet and swung his fiery mane around. The she-owl still had her claws in the lion’s mane as he tried desperately to fling her off.
“Please! GET OFF OF ME! I’ll do anything you want! Just get off!” he yowled. The owl was wise and decided to take him up on his offer.
“Anything, you say? Perhaps I’ll let you go… If you carry my nest to a safer place and never return.” Her large topaz eyes looked into the pleading ones of the lion. He agreed.
The journey was long and hard for the lion, as he started to freeze in these new temperatures. His shivering shook his whole body–the tips of his mane had started to frost. He started to slow down from his steady pace. The owl–in fear he was dying–made him a shawl of leaves and other things she found. Her hatchlings started to cry for food. The lion dug up worms for them to eat. These animals started to form a mutual relationship that was unlike any other the north and the south had ever seen.
Finally, after many days, the snowy owl agreed on a spot for her nest. It was in a nook at the base of a cluster of trees, protected from the cold and out of sight. By now, the owlets had fluffy gray fur that would eventually become sparkling white. The lion bowed his head to the lot, thanking them for keeping him warm. In return, the mother owl gave him directions back to the south, his sunny home.
“Thank you, lion, for protecting my children. I know we originally agreed that once your services were done you would never return. But that was when I thought you were a threat. If you ever want to return to the north side of the boundary and see us again, all you have to do is roar.”
The lion agreed, and turned solemnly to the south. He knew that he was wanted back home, but he would certainly return to the owl family that he saved–and that saved him.
Kaylie was inspired to write this short story using the “Unexpected Friends” writing prompt. Click here to view the prompt.