Tails

Tails

A Story by Sarah
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Richard Parker's take on the last few pages in Life of Pie for a contest August 2013 as a part of the Honors convocation featuring Yann Martel; 999 words.

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Thud...thud thud...THUD!  I cracked open the eye closest to where the thudding came from, only to be met with six, sparkling amber eyes"pupils constricted and intent"and little tails flapping all over like brightly banded, writhing snakes.  I flick an ear in their direction, and all rustling stops.  Closing my eye once again, I listen for paws tearing up the ground.  When they’re only a short distance away, I start to rise, baring my fangs in a ferocious roar, eyes blazing.  My display startles the youngest, causing him to skid on the damp ground and hightail it to the nearest bush for protection, the cub’s quivering making the berries fall off. 
         His two older siblings keep charging, the female disappearing for a moment before tackling my head from behind, and the male barreling straight into my chest.  I collapse in slow motion, as if their impacts caused it, purring a deep, throaty chuckle.  Rolling onto my back, the cubs pummel my belly and jump around, victorious, their giggles of glee ringing off the trees.  Indira, my mate, comes over then and gently consoles Kama, still under the bush.  At her coaxing, he crawls out, belly to the ground and ears flat, gaining back his confidence with every stride until he bounds over to join Mina and Ravi’s celebrating.  Unlike most tigers who don’t stay with whom they mate, I value family; I always have.  And having to survive the great oceans with the small human boy made me appreciate it even more.
         “Come now, m"man", leave your poor father alone to rest,” Indira chuckled.  She came over to me as our cubs clambered off, nuzzling and purring affectionately.
         “Papa, will you tell us a story?” Kama asked.
         “Yeah!  The one where you slayed a thousand dragons and didn’t get a scratch!” Ravi added enthusiastically, whacking and twirling at imaginary beasts.
         Mina chimed, “What about your travels on the sea, with the human cub?  Please, Papa?  We left off when you came to an island.”
         I smile softly as the bundles of energy eagerly look up at me, their curiosity insatiable.  Indira came to lie against me, and the cubs waddled over and flopped down between our paws, getting ready to sleep.  She wraps her head and neck around them, an image of tenderness, love, and strength.  I smile to myself, thinking how lucky I am, and with a glance at the moon high above, I continue my tale:
         “We had reached the island.  The shock of green to my senses was overwhelming.  Everything smelled so fresh, and despite wanting meat, I would have eaten the squishy green stuff.  As the boy tied up the boat, I got ready to spring.  With a great leap, I was out of that wretched vessel, and although unsteady at first, I made my way into the jungle, where I belong.  The whole island didn’t smell or feel right though…like there was a bigger predator on the island.  I banished the thought, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling.  I walked all around the island, surveying this alien territory.  Suddenly, the aroma hit me: fish.  It was so tremendous that I started to run full tilt toward it.  I saw a sea of sand far ahead of me, knowing the water that contained the fish was just on the other side.  As I neared though, the sand moved in various places, so I slowed to a walk to investigate.  I approached, and it was not a beach that was moving, but thousands of little, mongoose-looking animals, all standing on end and scurrying about the edges of several pools, chirping to one another.  They either didn’t notice my presence or didn’t care, because not one of them turned around or fled.  I didn’t kill any of them though; it wouldn’t have been fair, and the fish were right there, in the pools beyond.  I carefully tread amongst the creatures"I later found out, from the boy’s speech, that these were called meerkats"and worked my way toward the pools.  Hundreds of fish, great and small, were lying dead in these pools.  I sniffed the water to make sure it was all right, and gently pulled one of the larger, meatier fish out of the water.  None of the meerkats tried to take my fish, but instead dove into the water to catch their own.  As the crowd thinned, I dragged my find to the forest, hunkering down to feast.  I heard the boy’s exclamation as he found the pools soon after.  The fish was the best I had ever had, and it filled me quickly.”
         Seeing everyone asleep, I lay my head down next to them, and finish the story in my mind, seeing it as clearly as I did all that time ago:
         “After finishing, I roamed the island once more.  I came to a tree that looked different than the others: its trunk was twisted, and the leaves bore a strange, green fruit.  It smelled of death, so I quickly left.  The sun was setting, and my feet were getting hot from not being accustomed to walking for so long.  But even after I stopped, my feet grew hotter until I couldn’t stand it.  The meerkats and boy fled to the trees as night fell; and I sprinted back to the boat to lick my wounds.  The following days passed in that same routine until finally we set off and sailed for what seemed like another eternity.  At last, we hit land again.  The boy struggled out of the boat, and I shakily got out and started padding in a direction, hearing my bones click at each step.  I stopped and turned around, deciding to go to the forest.  I stopped then, wondering if I should look at the boy, to end our story with one final glance.  I couldn’t let him see me like this: tearing up with a maelstrom of emotion, vulnerable.  To this day I wonder how he is…”

© 2015 Sarah


Author's Note

Sarah
I have no clue as to why the piece is completely in italics; it is not supposed to be. Thanks.

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Added on June 25, 2015
Last Updated on June 27, 2015
Tags: tails, tales, pi, tiger, richard, pov, afterward

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Sarah
Sarah

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Hey! I'm a fifth-year college student who's almost done with degrees in geology and writing, and minors in museum studies and astrobiology. I love the arts and sciences, reading, writing, being in na.. more..

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