A wooden shelter, on Clearview road. Tin roof, wood benches, in a big square, with a concrete slab floor. weathered 4 x4 for a fence-type sides. Overgrown trees and vines, and a bunch of us as a girl scout troop camping. there is a path into the woods, where we go during hikes, but there’s no detail about that.
the problem is the lion. he lives across the gravel driveway, and spends his time ignoring us and eating grass and trees and vines and dead squirrels that he can scavenge. But he is always there. We wonder why he doesn’t smell us, doesn’t care that we are there, doesn’t seem to want to eat us. But we have one eye on him at all times, when we are washing our laundry in the river, hanging it over the 4x4s. we are not too loud, we do not attract his attention, and we do not make eye contact. he is content with the vines.
eventually, though, there is a baby lion. and it does not stay on its side of the road, it wanders freely in and out of our shelter, using it as a jungle gym. we are not afraid of the baby yet, but the adult notices us now. we are growled at, and stormed, but he does not eat us. our fear is growing because soon there will be two lions. I ask my husband about shooting it, and he laughs at me. “what kind of gun are you gonna use? at what range?” i don’t know, i say, who cares if you can shoot it in the head? but he laughs again and says one lonely shot wouldn’t put an animal like that down. so we are stuck living with the lion, the constant threat, and playing with the baby.
then Ms Lijewski turns up. She walks right past the lion and asks me for Zoe. she hands me her note cards and name tags, and gives me the instructions for her presentation. I have no idea what she is talking about, but pretty soon there is traffic on the road, and zoe and her friends come walking up and everyone’s ignoring the lion, and she says, “pfft, yeah…” with an eye roll when i ask her is she giving a talk at school today.
at some point the lion is not content anymore with the vegetation. i notice his mouth is bloody, and he is circling the camp, and i am afraid for real now. there is something about purple goggles.
and we are walking to the parking lot, and my car is a convertible. there are groceries in the car. and Luke’s wife and kids and mother in law come by to pick him up and take him to school, and the girls are in dresses and bows, and colleen is nice, and jamie is there saying how well i handled that, and we all walk up clear view road to school.
it is a theater set-up. we are on the balcony, and i am looking for luke so i can sit far away but i don’t see him. i do see my bat shit mother, who i realize must have looked up the event day online and showed up all on her own because i didn’t invite her. i don’t like the implications of this. i ignore her and sit in the second row, well in front of her, next to an unknown dweeby teenage boy. there are people with me but i don’t remember who they are. the kids come filing in, and its one of those every-class-takes-a-turn-showing-what-they-can-do shows, and i notice his kid and she gets to sing a solo.
and it dawns on me somehow. my mother was the one who fed the lion its first taste of meat. she must have parachuted in, wearing purple goggles, and dropped a dead animal and made it hungry.
i decide to flirt with you-know-who, and i am typing a flirty text into my phone but I’m unsure of the number at this point because i deleted it so long ago. but it must be right, because i get one back within a few minutes. it is not flirty. a pinterest saying of some kind about inappropriateness and being uncomfortable. a second one comes through, more of the same but more strongly worded. and finally, the last. a play on words on the one i sent him. and i don’t remember exactly of course, but it is enough to embarrass me and put me in my place and make me cry.