Of Storms and Lions

By Kusani
Night One
It’s storming tonight, a rainless show of light and noise just southwest of us. My little dog, Orion, is shaking and shivering and terrified because she hates storms, so I’ve been letting her up on my lap (and half on the TV tray next to my computer) to shiver on me. And I just finished my first week of college and a long-ass day at work that started waaay too early, so I’m sleep-deprived and prone to switch moods at the flick of an ear and sore and utterly exhausted.
Then I realized, as another thunderclap shuddered through the hot, stuffy airlessness that is my bedroom–this is the storm I’d been asking for. Why not go out and play in it?
Well I couldn’t for long, since I was talking with my sister and my girlfriend. But I brb’d myself and stepped outside.
I had expected it to be raining. Sadly, it was not.
But the wind was cool, a lovely change from the heat of the non-air-conditioned house, and I hopped off the porch into our massive, steep-sloped front yard. Then, the entire southwestern part of the sky lit up brilliantly, and I froze in awe. Then, as another peal of thunder rolled across the clouds, I fell to all fours (hell, who would be awake to see me?) and padded quietly down the slope to the twelve-ish-foot willow sapling set apart from the rest of the trees that line our acre to make an all-too-thin boundary between yards. My eyes were rivetted on the sky.
It was a beautiful light show. Horizontal bolts, all-encompassing flashes, thick brilliant strikes near the earth–gorgeous. I sprawled on my back, paws resting lightly against my chest, and watched the sky and let the weariness drain from my soul, if not my body. I just let myself lie there, spirit-tail twitching restlessly in the long, unruly grass (we need to mow), and stared at the heavens.
Several times I closed my eyes for a moment to feel the wind on my face or glanced down as though I could pinpoint a cricket’s location in the relative darkness–and the lightning would flash spectacularly. Even in your dreams, you might dream of the wind on your skin and the lights in the sky–but there’s nothing better than being there in the physical, experiencing it with every iota of your being and body.
I wanted the rain. I wanted to dance and laugh as the wind drove thick sheets of cold liquid into my body (arms outstretched to welcome the downpour) and come back in totally soaked and reinvigorated. I wanted to give myself to the storm and let it wash away all the everything that’s been plaguing me, no matter the form it takes. I wanted to luxuriate in the feel of water on my skin and hanging heavy and cool in my clothes and turning my hair into sleek spirals.
Another day, another almost-full-moon of breathtaking beauty… and another storm.
I’ll dance the next time it rains. Until then, I’ll try to keep my eyes open, no matter how tired or stressed I am. I live for the beauty in this world–I don’t want to miss it.
…fade to black. All that’s left is a shadow-ridden slope of long, half-trampled grass and a lone willow sapling with supple branches swaying in the breeze. All that’s left is a lioness-shaped imprint in the field. All that’s left is a rainless storm, lightning and thunder vying for low-key glory in the night sky. All that’s left is an offered hand, a clarion call, an ancient song. All that’s left is a wish to follow and a command to return…
Night Two
The breeze was strong and cool, and the skies were clear, and the ground wasn’t soaked with recent rains… I was exhausted and unable to focus my eyes and needing release… so I decided to go outside.
I slipped outside and the nightwind rushed forward to greet me–it tugged me forward, and I slid to the edge of the porch and wrapped one arm about one of the three pillars and stared up at the sky in absolute awe. Every star in the universe seemed to be visible, and the pale streak of the Milky Way–normally not nearly so clear and bright–stretched across the diamond-strewn velvet like a celestial river. I drank in the sight until the nightwind, impatient, pulled at my billowing clothing again, and I leapt softly to the cool grass and fell to all fours.
I padded slowly forward, neck craned so that I could see the stars, and the shadows cast by the neighbor’s porch light striped my body as I traversed the slope towards my willow sapling. The wind was breathtakingly brisk, and once or twice, I rolled onto my back and threw my hands and bare feet ((paws)) into the air just to feel the breeze all over me. And I never got over the brilliance and multitudes of the stars…
I curled up at the foot of my willow, in the way an animal and not a human would, and laid my cheek on my wrist ((rested my muzzle on my paws, tail coiled next to my flank)). I closed my eyes and just breathed in the purity of the cool air, listening to the nightwind surge through the still-green leaves, feeling the tickle of dancing willow branches as they caressed my flank and hip.
I lay there for endless minutes, caught in the sweet serenity of the night, some part of my mind that wasn’t dozing in the embrace of the Mother wondering just what I was. Wondering if therianthropy could really be confined to one permanent, unchanging species of animal–or if the animalside evolved to match the soul’s own growth and change. And, I couldn’t find an answer, not within my intellect or the beast that was without as much as within at this point ((her ears splayed and tail stilled and breathing steady in the rhythm of almost-sleep)).
After what seemed a long, long time, I reluctantly opened my eyes again and pushed myself upright–stretched luxuriously ((tail curling over my back briefly))–and began the deliberately slow pace up the hill to the house, still on all fours and graceful despite the awkwardness of my human body.