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Stripes

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Stripes

As I wake up from a long nap, I make my way over to the glistening stream. As I run my tongue through the cold water, it quenches my thirst I’ve had for hours. Being by yourself in a jungle and having to fend for yourself does take a toll on you not only physically and mentally. I’m always glancing over my shoulder making sure nothing that could be considered a threat was behind me. I guess this is no surprise to me, being a tiger we are taught to survive on our own. I just had to come to grips with it sooner than most tiger cubs.
As I think back to what happened, all the feelings of horror and sadness comes back. It was about a year ago. It was just my mother, brother, and me. My dad was never around; in fact I’ve never met him. So my mother taught, hunted, and protected my brother and I as best as she could. But as young cubs, we were always wandering off any chance we could. So one day when mother was sunbathing in the savannah grass, brother and I thought it was time for exploring, so that’s exactly what we did. For days brother was talking about this place he found, so as curious as anyone would be, I begged him to take me there.
It felt like forever ‘till we finally reached our destination. “shh, be quiet,” my brother whispered. I didn’t understand until I peered through the grass to discover a camp; a human camp. That didn’t surprise me as much as what I saw next. There were guns, lots of them, and furs – animal furs – of all kinds. My golden eyes widened in shock and utter fear. They had all types of furs you could think of except for the black and orange striped fur that covered my brother & I. I turned to my brother almost speechless, but the only word I could force out was, “run!” As I turn to run I accidentally stepped on a stick that made a crunch and snapping sound. “Hey, what’s that!” the men yelled as they grabbed their guns. “It’s tiger cubs!” one yelled as they all came running toward us, like a herd of hungry hyenas ready for their next mean. The adrenaline pumping through my body made me run even faster than before.
Not looking back, I kept running. Leaves and vines brushing my face with each step I took. I finally got to where mother was. I didn’t have to say anything, her face said it all. Scared was the expression her face gave me. “Where’s brother?” she asked. I spun around frantically surveying the savannah. “I don’t know, I thought he was right behind me,” I said shamefully. “Come with me,” she said motioning to our den, which was hidden underneath the bushes. “Stay here until I come back, “she said. “Where are you going?” I asked, although I knew I didn’t want to know the answer. “To find brother,” she said, putting her head down because she knew the danger that was going to come. Tears streaming down my face and panic starting to take over my whole being. Mother wrapped her giant paws around my body and licked my ear, trying to comfort me. I looked up as her long whiskers tickled my face. “What if you don’t come back?” I said. Letting out a big sigh, she stood up on her four legs. She looked me dead in the eye as she said, “you have been very brave, and I need you to keep staying that way. Whether or not your brother and I return, you need to remember to rely on no one but yourself.” As she said that, pressing her nose against mine I peered into her beautiful caramel brown eyes. I knew this would be the last time I would ever see her again. As we said our final goodbyes, she was off like lightening into the jungle. Moments later, guns fired and I knew it was over, she was shot. At that moment, I never felt so alone. I lay down and closed my eyes and here I am two years later. Even though it was a long time ago, the memories always reply over and over again in my head. Sometimes, as the wind blows through my fur, I feel as though it’s my mother’s spirit telling me everything will be okay. That there is still hope that my brother is still alive. That one day I will find him if I just keep looking.



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