‘Go play with your friends,’ pleaded Loni the lion’s mother. ‘And for goodness sake stop scratching.’
‘Mother, I have no desire to play with anyone,’ said Loni. ‘And I’m scratching because I itch all over. I must be allergic to grass.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ said her mother. ‘You’re a lion. You can’t possibly be allergic to grass. Grass hides us and keeps us safe. And why on earth would you want to be alone? Lions are the only cats who live in groups, and we’re proud of it.’
‘Well, I’m not proud of it,’ whined Loni. ‘I want to be different.’
Loni’s father approached.
‘Your daughter tells me she’s allergic to grass and she wants to be alone. Please speak to her,’ muttered Loni’s mother.
‘You’re being silly Loni,’ chided her father. ‘Lions are ...’
‘I know, I know—I’ve had the lecture,’ said Loni, petulantly. ‘When I’m Queen of the Jungle, things will change.’
‘Queen of the Jungle?’ laughed her father. ‘My dear, we have Kings of the Jungle—but Queens?’
‘Why not?’ asked Loni.
Her father considered his daughter’s question as he rolled over and over in the long grass, creating a neat, flattened area.
‘What on earth are you doing, dear?’ called Loni’s mother. But Loni’s father disappeared and then reappeared with the skin of a zebra, the remains of their last meal. He dragged the skin to the flattened patch of grass and positioned it carefully.
‘Over here Loni,’ called her father. Loni approached cautiously. ‘A grass-free area, just for you, your majesty.’
‘How wonderful,’ purred Loni. ‘Thank you, Father.’
‘Now my dear, we will leave you alone, just as you asked.’
Loni was content. She lay on the zebra skin feeling very regal and not at all itchy. The hours passed without interruption. She saw no-one and heard nothing.
After a time, she began to think that being a queen without any subjects was a little disappointing—and just a bit boring. Where was everyone? She also began to feel a little nervous. Being alone was nice for a time but …
Then she heard voices. Familiar faces appeared—Father, Mother, her brother Nilo, and many members of the pride.
‘All hail, Queen of the Jungle!’ they chorused, and bowed respectfully.
Loni laughed sheepishly (if it’s possible for a lion to be sheepish). Yes, subjects were very important for the Queen of the Jungle. Being alone was quite scary.
‘We bring you food,’ said Nilo, presenting her with a portion of meat.
‘Thank you, my loyal subjects,’ smiled Loni.
‘Is there anything else your highness requires?’ asked Father.
‘Actually, I’m thinking of becoming a vegetarian,’ said Loni. ‘Some nice juicy vegetables would be appreciated.’
‘Oh for heaven’s sake,’ roared her father.
‘Whatever next?’ wailed her mother.
‘Just joking,’ laughed Loni.
But when I’m Queen of the Jungle, she thought to herself, Oh, the changes and possibilities …
Tricia (Pat) loves writing poetry and short stories. Her work has been published in anthologies and magazines in the UK and Australia. You can find out more about Tricia at her blog.
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