Caged

“Our crimes are that we are beautiful” Leo the lioness roared to Zed the Zebra, who was in the next cage, then went and sat on a boulder in the corner. She reached for the metallic food container with one paw and overturned it. It was empty. She made a loud roar, one for hunger, hoping the wardens would hear her.

“But then if we were free you would be giving the chase of my life out there in the wilderness, if you wouldn’t already have eaten me by then.” The zebra lazily replied, lying prostate on the ground and rolling a few times. The mound of grass in the corner was still untouched.

“You mean you like this? You must be such an idiot.” Leo angrily stood up and began tearing at the wires separating the two cages with her teeth. Catching a sharp edge, she let out a painful yell and went back to her boulder, face gloomy.

“It is better to be alive in a cage than always being on the run without committing a crime, always being ready to be eaten.” The zebra let out a loud laugh.

“Coward” Leo roared, jolting back to her feet. “Your ancestors should hear you, being afraid to be eaten. Those who galloped on all four legs, jumping across streams that we couldn’t, leaving us stranded on the other end. Those whose tough necks resisted our teeth, pulling them out, and making us die in starvation. Those who made us the tough lions of Masaai Mara. They should hear you.”

Leo paused.  Zed wasn’t listening. His body was calm and he started shifting his long athletic legs into various positions, as if a model posing. Leo turned round to view who had caught Zed’s  attention. A couple stood just outside Zed’s cage, slim phones in their extended hands, clicking, taking photos. The guy, dark skinned and in blue jeans, purple polo shirt, stopped clicking and extended his hands around the girl’s waist; she, light-skinned and in red dress top that reached just below the waist and black almost transparent tights.  The girl shrugged and pushed his hands away. “Can’t you see the animals watching?” She turned to him with a sneer and smiled. He smiled back.

“What do you think about them?” Leo asked.

“Such a beautiful couple. Reminds me of my days in the forest with my girl friend, admiring fish in the water as they swam in the River Mara.”

“You are wrong again.”

“Why? I’m never right to you. All you see in me is food.”

“Can’t you see the guy wants something and the girl doesn’t want to give it?”

“What?”

“Sex, you fool.”

“Why do you say so? I mean, the girl just refused her waist to be held.”

“And that shows so much more.”

Zed downed his head, half closed his eyes looked at the couple keenly then nodded.

“Well, she will agree eventually.”

“Maybe. Maybe not.” Leo growled back.

“What if she refused? Could he take it by force?”

“That would be a crime. Rape. Fool again.”

“So, none of them is really free to do what they wish?”

“Now you are getting me. They just have to agree. But till then, they are caged. Just like us.”

The weight of the new information being too much, Zed sat down and lowered his head in meditation. Leo went back to sit in her corner, watching her prey keenly.

“I have a plan.” Finally she said, waking up Zed whose eyes had just began to close.

“Which?”

“We can escape tonight if we agree. We can be really free, finally.

Zed squinted his eyes and looked at Leo with suspicion. Studying her face closely, he opened his mouth.

“How?”

“We create a scenario, at night, howl like we are in deep pain. The guards will come, open the cages, and then we will lower their guards with comics. I’m sure they have never seen a lion play with a zebra. Then we will give them a surprise attack.”

“That’s quite a plan.” Zed nodded, half closed his eyes and sat on his back legs, his head down cast. Leo looked on, a smile forming on his snout. Suddenly Zed jerked up, started running around his cage in loud laughter. Finally he stopped at the corner where the grass was, picked a mouthful and walked with it up to where Leo stood watching, only crisscrossing steel wires separating their faces.

“A mouthful of grass for your words.” He said, dropping it

You know I can’t reach there, and even if I did, lions don’t eat grass. Leo said, proudly displaying her strong muscles and opening her mouth to show strong canine teeth.

“So you plan to eat me after we escape?”

“But that is not a crime? Leo frowned.

She quickly jerked her right paw, but only managed to have a slight scratch on Zed’s leg before he quickly pulled back and galloped around his cage, laughing loudly. He took another mouthful of grass and walked with it up to where Leo stood, watching, waiting patiently.

The couple stood watching. Excited by the animals’ antics, they lowered their phones, decided to watch the unique scenario with their naked eyes. Slowly, the guy wrapped his arm around the girl’s waist. This time she did not resist.

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