Sweat covered my body as I looked around. The unforgivable sun beat down on my head and made the next breath feel scorching inside my nose and mouth. How will this meeting go? That was the only question on my mind. My steps fell on the faded dry grassland. I’ve given years of my life to them. Will they know me? Or will they attack?
Something moved in my peripheral view, in the shadow of the lonely tree. Or someone, perhaps.
“Maybe we should go,” Lilly whispered at my side. I put a calming hand on her shoulder and smiled.
“You can’t show them fear, Lilly,” I told her. “You have to trust.”
I couldn’t blame her for being nervous. After all, she hasn’t been doing this as long as I have. Then again, I didn’t know if that would matter much in the long run. Maybe I was nuts to seek them out. But I had to. This was the culmination of so many dreams and hopes.
If they don’t recognize me, they might kill me. Maybe I shouldn’t have brought Lilly along. But she was so excited to be out here with me.
“I need to see this,” she told me.
Another noise had us jump and look around. My breath caught. There they were, coming towards us. This was the moment of truth.
They stopped and sniffed the air. I felt Lilly squeeze my hand. Then they started running, racing towards us. This is it.The two lionesses that I raised as cubs approached fast. I stood my ground. When they came nearer, they both roared and ran into my arms. They hugged me and licked my face like puppies who haven’t seen their owner for the whole day. These magnificent animals remembered me, and the culmination of my work was just as I imagined it. Tears slid down my face, mingling with laughter, as Lilly recorded our reunion.