The lion felt arms wrap around his body and pull him from the waters and onto shore. The sun warmed his body.
There were voices all around him, and he felt himself being pushed and prodded.
He opened his eyes and there were a pair of awkward looking animals towering over him. Small, furless creatures, resembling monkeys, standing on two legs, with tufts of blonde hair on their head, and slender limbs with long fingers, and pink lips. The lion reeled back and splashed into the water. The small figures all cackled with laughter and pointed.
The lion looked into the water and saw a reflection he did not recognize. Instead of a golden mane, he saw a hairless face, with gold locks of hair. He was one of these fair, furless monkeys .
William, the creatures exclaimed, you scared us!
William? Thought the lion. Who is William?
Don’t swim so deep next time! You’ll drown yourself, they said.
The lion thought himself to be in another dream, even more bizarre, so he relaxed and played along
I’m sorry, he said.
That’s okay. Lets get dressed and go to supper. Mother is calling us.
The lion looked into the water again and studied his reflection for a moment, opening his eyes wide in curiosity. He looked down at his small frail body. He was wearing a pair of shorts. He shivered and looked back at the female creatures. They began skipping off.
William, the lion thought to himself. What a peculiar name.
He picked himself up and began crawling forward before he realized how awkward this was. He looked at the creatures ahead, and raised himself on two legs, gaining his balance. He stepped forward and walked after the creatures.
The lion was now a boy, in a world he was not familiar with. He soon learned that these two creatures were called humans, and that they were his sisters.
He met his mother who was setting the table for dinner.
You’re a mess William! Get cleaned for supper and put on a new set of clothes.
William looked at his half naked body. It was smeared with dirt. Mud and grass protruded between his toes, what once were paws. He began to lick himself clean.
His sisters began to squeal with laughter.
William! his mother said. Stop being an animal and clean yourself up this instant. She grabbed him by the arm and led him to the bathroom where she turned on the shower. She left and returned with a towel and some garments.
Clean yourself up and hurry down to dinner, she said before closing the door. The shower steamed the glass. William took his hand and smeared the glass to study his face. What a strange dream, he thought to himself. I will play along. My destiny awaits.
William stepped into the steaming shower. It felt nice and rejuvenating. He rinsed his fleshy body and rolled around on the towel to dry himself. He picked up the clothes and put them on as best as he could figure.
He returned to the table downstairs and took a seat next to his sisters. His mother sat and called “Dinner is ready!”
A large solemn human entered and sat at the head of the table.
He looked at his family.
Smells great, he said.
William, your shirt is on backwards.
William looked down and back at the man, then at his sisters who laughed.
William almost drowned today! they said
Yes he was trying to touch the bottom of the blue hole and we had to go pull him up.
Don’t be stupid William, said the man. No need to show off.
William blushed. They said prayers and ate a marvelous dinner. William used his mouth, being unfamiliar with utensils, which earned him more scolds.
That night he laid in this new bed, and felt very alone. I hope I wake from this horrible dream, he thought to himself. He thought of his kingdom, his pride, his family.
Soon he fell into a deep sleep.
Light filled the room and birds chirped nearby. The young lion stretched his legs and opened his eyes. He was not on his lofty valley perch. He was on a bed, in a room.
Wake up William! the voice of the lady said from downstairs.
You’ll be late for school!
School? he thought. He shrugged and proceeded to climb out of bed.
The mother lady scolded him for not dressing himself for school and took him back upstairs to put on some clothes and hurried him out the door with a paper bag and a bag fixed to his back. He and his sisters walked to school. There were large trails of rock in every direction, straight and long, crossing with other trails. Marvelous wooden homes lined these trails, called streets.
William made it to school and encountered a large area where many children were running about, climbing, kicking balls, huddled in groups. His sisters ran off and he was again alone. No matter. They were all different shapes and sizes. William found a large tree and sat beneath it and observed the children. A large green caterpillar was articulating his way across some fallen leaves. William picked it up and examined its small face.
Hello sir, can you tell me where my home is?
The caterpillar raised itself and replied, Dear king, you are at home. You need to make your kingdom here now.
That can’t be right, said William. My home is far away. I need to find my way back.
You will, said the caterpillar. But if you excuse me your highness, I need to finish my breakfast and began weaving my cocoon! I wish you the best on your journey, he said, before leaping off Williams hand, and descending down a silk thread.
A bell rang and the crowds of children ran towards a large building.
A large monstrous woman came from behind William.
Boy, it’s time to get in line! William looked at her in confusion.
She grabbed him by the backpack and lead him to a line of children and deposited him at the back.
They were lead into a room and another lady with a beaming smile and greeted them.
Welcome children! said the women.
They put their bags away and then assembled into a circle. William sat through this class largely mystified and confused. For hours they would rotate between listening to this lady and creating designs with wax sticks, which they called penmanship. Then they would plant some seeds in a foam cup with soil, play with colorful blocks, and parrot back some words to the teacher. They ate food from their brown papers bags, had a nap on foam mats, ran around outside before they returned to parrot more of the large lady.
Then they were released from the school and William and his sisters and a serry of children walked home, peeling off into their homes on one by one until they said goodbye to the last children and walked up to their house. Mother was waiting on the porch husking corn.
Grab a seat and help your momma with the corn.
William and his sisters husked corn and soon ran to play in the back yard.
William’s sisters, Jennifer and Nicole, would run through the woods with William, searching for the forests creatures. William would stop and speak to the animals and send them a message to bring back to his kingdom. None of the creatures could tell William how to return, but they all knew he was king, and respected him for his kindness, despite his boyish appearance.
William was an odd child, and the other boys didn’t seem to take to his weird ways, frolicking in the woods, finding wood creatures, and playing in the rivers. This is where William felt most at home. The other boys preferred these games on a magic box with buttons. Video games. Sparkling images would entrance the boys for hours, but William would grow tired and restless.
In his classrooms William would be more fascinated by the Ant crawling across the classroom carpet, or examining the rainbows produced by prisms of glassware, or examining the surface of a buckeye he cracked from its shell. His teachers would grow more and more impatient with his inattention.
They soon consulted with his parents and took him to an elder called the Doctor. The doctor thought that William was sick, and had his parents give him a white pill twice a day. This would heal William of his preoccupations with nature and bugs and animals, and help him sit for hours while the teacher parroted.
The pill indeed worked. William was entranced every day after taking the pill. His wonder and enthusiasm soon waned, and he found himself greeted with smiles and good remarks from all the adults, but inside William felt like he was dying. He moved less and less, and could sit for hours for no reason, his mind attending to what was in front of him, or dreaming of his old kingdom.
Each night he would call out to the animals beyond his window sill, the moths and bats and owls and fireflies, and tell them his story, asking them to find a way to pass along his message to his parents in his kingdom. Each night he longed for this dream to end, and each morning he woke to the humans ordering him around, get dressed, do your penmanship, practice your words, clean your room, eat your vegetables. (Lions don’t eat vegetables.)