(This is a continuation of The Umbrella – Part I)
I trudged over dune after dune for what felt like an eternity when I finally saw something along the horizon. As I dragged my blistered and sunburned body toward the tiny spec in the distance, I came to realize that the tiny spec I was looking at was a house. A house, in the middle of the desert? Whatever. That’s where the lion’s tracks lead to and that’s where I was going. I had to get out of the heat.
The sun had begun setting by the time I reached the house’s entrance. The house looked like it had been abandoned for decades. What little paint that remained was peeling and fluttered in the breeze. The house’s windows were all broken or cracked, with the exception of one window above the garage. I walked up the porch steps, each one creaking under my steps, and reached for the front door’s handle. I turned the doorknob and the door violently swung open. Suddenly sand and dust whipped passed me into the home. The house was sucking me in, like a blackhole.
I used the door frame to push away from the vortex as hard as I could but I knew immediately that I was outmatched. I took a deep breathe and let go, entering the whirlpool, knowing this could be the last breath I ever take.
It wasn’t. Once inside of the door I heard nothing – complete silence. I waited a moment before building up enough nerve to open my eyes. I gasped. I was underwater. I gulped some air into my lungs and held my breath again. I held that air in my lungs for as long as possible, but my lungs began to burn and I had to take a breath. I choked and gasped for air. I could breath! Underwater. I took a deep breath. Yep, I was breathing!
I looked around. I was bobbing up and down in the middle of turquoise-colored water. I could see the surface above me, dusk’s light twinkling into the water. I moved in that direction. As I swam toward the surface, a school of fish circled around me and swam away, following the water’s current. A jellyfish came by and scooted within arm’s length of me and I swear a sea turtle nodded at me as if to say, “Sup bro.”
What the hell kind of drug did I take?
I reached the water’s surface and realized that I was near an island. I swam toward one of the sandy beaches. When I reached the island’s edge, I was exhausted. I laid on the warm sand and caught my breath. As I laid on my back watching the palm trees sway back and forth, I heard it. I heard the lion roar. That little bugger was HERE! I quickly remembered what brought me on this journey in the first place and jumped to my feet, heading in the direction the roar came from.
I dug my feet into the sandy floor and ran as fast as I could. I knew I wasn’t far behind. I was gaining on him. Little did I realize, I was only gaining on him because he had stopped.
I ran into a clearing and there he was, sitting in the distance. I slowed to a stop and observed for a moment. The lion’s golden fur swayed as he reached down and picked up the umbrella, which was now open. He stuck the umbrella into the ground so it stood straight up and slowly backed away. I realized then that there was another creature now in the shade of the umbrella, a lion cub.
I cautiously approached the lion family. When I was a few feet away, the large lion turned and looked at me then returned his gaze to the little lion cub who stretched and settled back into her nap. I stood next to the lion and watched. The scene was so peaceful. After the chaos of everything else, I felt serenity. As if by reflex, I leaned into the lion and he supported my weight. I could feel him breathe. In and out his body rose and fell, and with each breath I felt sleepier and sleepier. Exhaustion set in and before I knew it everything turned black.
I came to at my house, not in my bed, but at my front door, keys dangling in my hand. I looked down, I had my work bag around me. How did I get here? Was I here the entire time? I opened my door and stepped inside. I was home and honestly, that’s all I cared about.
So that’s my story. I had an umbrella, a lion stole it from me, and I experienced something that nobody will ever believe, but I know the truth.