Jungle Juice

Sometimes I like to walk out on my own, but my brother doesn’t approve.

I like the way my paws spread out on the ground under my weight and the feel of the wind flowing over my body and creeping through my fur. I never go too far, just to lap up some jungle juice from the lagoon. To feel it flowing down my throat and into my skin. It makes my fur shine and my lips plump.

But my big brother doesn’t like me walking out on my own so I have to wait for him.

We’re never apart for too long. Never for too long. He’ll be back soon. I never worry that he’ll get lost. He has killer instincts – we both have. Although, I did get lost once…

We had been out hunting together and I caught wind of a strange scent. I don’t remember what it was, but it was delicious. I knew that I had strayed too far when the sun went down and I couldn’t find his footprints in the ground. But I found my own way back. We always find each other. We only have each other. Well, now that our mother has left us, we’ve all we’ve got.

I’m so thirsty, but he told me specifically to wait here, until he came back. He’s been gone for a few moons now and I’m not worried, but I am thirsty. And hungry! But, I don’t want to upset my brother. He has a temper at times and it would annoy him if I leave now, so it will be best that I wait. As long as it takes.

The last time that I saw him was when mother left. She got up one day and nuzzled us, like she always does. She then turned to my brother and purred something into his ear, and his alone, whilst I watched.

I have always been the fragile one. The one to look after, the one kept in the dark. It was no bother to me at the time. But we never saw her again. He turned around to face me and sighed with his eyes. I knew that he was going out hunting next. He always does that, my brother. He looks after me and mother is always busy. So I waited. I have been waiting for a while now though.

Our mother is incredible though, don’t get me wrong. She taught us everything. To attack your prey, you need to shimmy up and pounce whilst they’re surprised. ‘Never aim for their body’, this is what she tells us, ‘only the head’. We’re an apex predator. The Kings of the jungle. We aim and bite through any animals skull and then we win. We will always win. That’s how I know that my brother will come back. He’s coming back.

We can’t go out North because the ground is thin there, but my brother knows that. He’d never go there. I heard that monsters and demons lay there in wait. They use us for medicine and secrets. But it’s all lies. There’s no-one there and I don’t know how to fix anything, let alone a pink worm like those kind. I don’t even know if the forest is thin. It’s all rumours. Nothing is fact until it’s been seen. A tree falling down in the jungle still makes a noise.

Oh, how I would love to take a stroll and walk through the leaves and snakes to some jungle juice. I feel weak and alone. Where is he?

It’s night and I should be asleep but my mind is wandering. Through the trees I can see pink demons, as bright as stars. The stars trick me. I have heard rumours that the worms study stars and read them and can predict the future. But these are rumours. My brother has told me to pay no attention. He always knows best and it will only make me ill to ponder these things.

Wait, that’s him now. I can hear him coming through the leaves.

That’s not him.

My brother is dark as night, like me. This is another one. This one is spotted and orange. He’s not one of us. Why are his eyes fixed on me like this? Where’s mother?

He’s edging towards me with his legs tense and his mouth closed. Maybe he’s lost too and he just needs a place to sleep the night. I hope that doesn’t get mad when I say I say I’ve no jungle juice to spare. But when my brother comes, we can all go together,

No, no, here he is! I told you that he would come back!

He’s so beautiful, my brother. His fur reflects the stars in the sky and when he drinks from the lagoon all you can see are his big amber eyes. He’s much bigger than this other Jaguar. His paws are the size of my head and he – he can pounce like nothing I’ve seen before!  I’m so glad that he’s home.

Why’s he pouncing on our new friend? He only needed a home from the night, a friend to talk to. I’ve never seen another one of us (outside the family) before…

I guess he was just protecting me? It’s still hard to look at the rug that lies on the jungle floor, but if my brother didn’t approve then neither do I. His fur doesn’t reflect the stars, and he’s not one of my blood. He’s an outsider. He could have been with the worms. We can’t take that chance. Not that they’re real or anything, but you never know…

My brother is back and that’s all that matters.

Wait, that’s not him.

That is him, but why is he looking at me like that?

Legend tells of an orange flower, created by the worms. It destroys everything that it touches and burns brighter than the sun. It’s hotter than a desert at noon and dries every wet that it drives over.

I have never believed in such a thing until now. I can feel his eyes burning into me and scorching over my fur. Yet, to my eyes – my eyes – he has glossed over completely. Not seeing me, yet seeing my body and not myself, not his sister.

He came towards me and threw me down. My brother is very good. He has killer instincts – so do I, but I can’t move a fraction and he didn’t hover his teeth above my eyelashes like he usually would. He sat behind me and positioned me.

I felt jungle juice dripping from my secret place the next day.

It’s been a full few moons now and I can feel something growing within me. I think that I am to be a mother. But I will be better than Mother ever was.

I just hope that my brother comes back. He protects me. I have always been the fragile sibling. But we always find each other. He’ll be back soon. He won’t be lost for long.

Sometimes I like to walk out on my own.

I like the way my paws spread out on the ground under my weight and the feel of the wind flowing over my body and creeping through my fur. I never go too far, just to lap up some jungle juice from the lagoon. To feel it flowing down my throat and into my skin. It makes my fur shine and my lips plump.

I’m so thirsty.

We only have each other.

I hope that my children grow up to love each other as much as my brother and me.

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