New Friends by Pent Ghelsburg
Disclaimer: The characters depicted in this work are purely fictional. Any resemblance to persons alive or dead is purely coincidental. They are the original and rightful intellectual property of their creators. I use them with permission and respect. This work involves underaged characters. You have been warned.
There are times in one’s life where support and companionship are needed. The emotional fulfillment that comes from friendship is the very core of the human character. While some people can get along with less there are equally as many who very much need the social interaction that comes from friends. This is even more true when in consideration during one's youth when the times of confusion and uncertainty are many.
Nait was a young boy who lived in the outskirts of Madahara in the central part of the Mexican plains. The city which he lived in was very much considered one that was a suburb, removed from much what would be considered the core of city life. Nait lived with his parents and the 3 of them amongst a greater pride of lions who lived in a rather tight-knit community. The place was the only one he had ever known and one could say that he lived a bit of a closed-in life.
Nait was a lion cub of 12 years of age. He went to a local junior high school where he was in the second year of his stay at the school. He was a pretty average kid who was not known for being the most outgoing cub. To his small circle of friends, he was a rather friendly fellow. Nait was one of the kids who wanted to be friends with literally every person he met. When he approached a new person, he was able to befriend just about anyone he met.
Nait often went out of his way to please people, regardless of their age. As such he was a pretty hard person to dislike. However, since he talked to so many people he didn’t have what one would consider being a best friend. It was something that didn’t bother him but one day he was approached about the issue. Ever since then the idea had been set in his mind and he continued to work on making a best friend.
Another few days later Nait was out in the field with his friends during what was considered physical education. The coach of the program was under an umbrella, nowhere really to be seen. The so-called administrator had a more or less carefree approach to how it should be conducted. As such the kids had mostly free reign in regards to what they could do daily. This usually meant that they were everywhere around the field doing whatever.
Nait was in the part of the field where the goalposts were situated for soccer. Neither of them was arranged appropriately for a game. He and a small group of his age-mates gathered around the area and were just kind of standing there. Of his little clique, Nait was the smallest member. The lion cub thought to himself and hummed as he tried to come up with a game that they could play.
“Do you guys want to play hide and seek?” The smallest cub spoke out and chirped at the thought of being the seeker.
One of the largest leopards stepped up. “Hide and seek? How do you expect to do that in an open field?”
“Hmm. Well, we can just use the perimeter. There are some trees and stuff around here.” Nait pointed at the various bushes and shrubs around the field.
Some of the cubs began to chirp up and chatter. One of them spoke up. “Sure, you’re on. You’re the seeker then?”
Nait nodded and the other kids smiled at his eagerness to be charged with the responsibility of finding the others. The lion hid his face and began counting out loud. As he did so, the other cubs ran about to various places around the field. The boy knew he had 6 of them to find and the determination boiled up inside them. Slowly he counted to thirty and once he did he uncovered his face and allowed his eyes to adjust for a few seconds after.
Once he was ready he began running around and making his way towards the closest patch of shrubbery that the school had closest to the gym building itself. As he got close enough, he listened for any movement. Nait peered his head ever lower so that it was close enough to the grass, replicating hunting techniques that his feral ancestors had used years ago. Suddenly he heard a rustling of some nearby leaves and immediately lept into it.
The cub crashed through the bush and right onto an amphibian boy who was unfortunately caught underneath. Nait blushed and got off his friend who took a few seconds to recover. The lion helped him up and apologized before realizing he needed to find the rest of his friends. His motivation to find them was renewed and he continued on his way treading right alongside the bushes that sidelined the main school building.
As he passed by the cafeteria, he made special care as to avoid the security shack which often served as were the trouble makers hung out. Eventually, he made his way to the far end of the field and headed towards an outcropping of trees. Nait began creeping around, figuring that someone had to be hiding nearby. Soon he overheard the faint sound of leaves rustling. When he turned back around, he saw a gopher girl running away from him.
Nait got on all fours and ran as fast as he could. Each of his limbs extending forward bringing him ever closer to his prey. The girl looked over her shoulders and saw him coming with increasing speed. A few seconds passed and the lion pounced on her with the full force of his body weight. The boy cub giggled as the girl underneath him struggled and huffed a bit. Slowly he picked himself up and helped her get up.
The boy reversed his direction and headed towards the next grouping of bushes, this time the ones removed the school itself near where the agriculture club kept a garden. Nait knew he would need to be careful in this area or he might get in trouble. The garden was known to be one of the few areas of the school to be protected grounds other than the bathrooms. Still, he ran as fast as his feet would allow towards the outcropping of crops and lush flowers.
When he arrived, he had to stop cold. There was a teacher out there who eyed him as he got close to the area. Nait shouted at them.
“Has anyone come this way?” He made sure to stay just outside the perimeter of the garden area.
No response was made, instead, the crow of a man raised his wing and made a loud caw. This sudden and abrupt noise startled Nait who quickly trotted off. The cub looked around wondering where he could try next.
The lion cub continued his hunt around the entire school area, finding many of his friends had found their way upfront. Just as he was finding the sixth and final cub, the bell rang signaling that they were to return inside and get ready to come home. The group congregated and began to chat about the game, all of them joking about how serious Nait took his job as a seeker. Of course, it was all in good fun and no one was hurt, no matter how playful he was with the situation.
Afterward, they headed back inside to the school itself. By this point, the majority of the small circle of cubs had separated from the lion boy. However one remained. The one in question was a gazelle who went by the name Shakir. Shakir had recently immigrated from Egypt and his Spanish was far from the most fluid. The gazelle had taken a liking to Nait since he was one of the first boys to befriend the deer-like boy.
“What class has now?” The gazelle’s broken speech pattern wasn’t bad enough to be indiscernible.
Nait looked over at the smaller boy and smiled warmly. “I have math now. What about you?”
“Am have Spanish. Hope to make better. See you after?” The smaller boy's ears perked up as he waited for an answer.
The lion nodded but said nothing. Shakir understood and the two parted ways from each other. Nait went about to the rest of his classes, being the usual studious person, he mostly kept to himself. It wasn’t until Lunchtime that he became social again. The cub found his way to the cafeteria, which was always full of kids from late morning to early afternoon. Once he was within the distance of it, he could overhear the raucous noise of chatter from within.
As with every day the boy made his way to the lunch line. Nait began to converse with those around him, about nothing in particular. Shakir eventually noticed the feline being his usual social self and headed over. Once he arrived, the smaller boy filed into the line shortly behind where his friend was. Shakir wasn’t quite close enough to be noticed and so the other cub didn’t notice him. The gazelle didn’t want to interfere with whatever conversation he was engaged in.
The two made their way through the line and eventually made their way to the front. Nait was the first one to get food and got his usual school slop from the server. Shakir wasn’t long after him and once the smaller cub was out of the line, he began to look around the room for somewhere to sit. The gazelle knew that the lion normally sat at the end of the tables and was determined to find him. It took him a few seconds of scanning but eventually, he found the lion.
Nait happened to be at a seat where many of the same people he had played hide and seek were. Shakir made his way over and fortunately found a seat right across and to the side of where the bigger boy was. The lion smiled at him once he realized he had joined them. The group was already engaged in a conversation about what they had plans for after school.
“Want water battle?” The gazelle thought a squirt gun-type game would be fun.
The bigger cub had a look of confusion on his face. “Water battle?”
“Pew Pew. Bang Bang” Shakir put out his fingers in the shape of a gun and mimicked it.
“Oh, like a squirt gun battle? Sure. Maybe after school if you like?” Nait thought about it for a second and remembered that he had nothing else planned.
Shakir almost jumped out of his chair in excitement. He hadn’t had a water gun fight in some time.
The group began to get chatty again and eventually the gazelle felt a little overwhelmed by it all and fell silent. Once the meal was over the group was over and Shakir kept to himself. Both he and Nait went about the rest of their days like normal. Nait occasionally thought about what the other boy had said but it only briefly. On the other hand, Shakir thought about it quite fervently as the excitement in him was building.
After school, the gazelle sped outside to the front of the school and proceeded over to a tree in front of the main entrance of the building. Nait wasn’t long after but at first, he didn’t notice his friend waiting for him. Shakir’s nubby tail perked up upon seeing him and he shouted out to him.
“We still go?” The gazelle got within a more personal distance of the other cub.
Nait was caught a little off-guard by the other's forwardness. “Uh…sure, let me text my parents. Did you do that?”
“Yes, Yes.” Shakir nodded and pulled out to show his new friend.
The lion shrugged and did the same, figuring his parents would be ok with it. Still, he texted them all of the same and then placed the phone in his pocket.
The lion cub grabbed his bike from the rack after unlocking it and the two began walking together towards Nait’s house. The lion’s den was a short distance from the school itself. On the way, down the street from where they started the phone in the feline cub's pocket. The bigger cub pulled it out of his pocket and examined it for a minute. He confirmed that the text was from his parents and it said that they were alright with him bringing his friend over.
Nait shared the information with his friend who smiled and chirped in excitement. The two began to skip down the road. It was a brisk day and the cool air rushed against their fur as they made their way to the lion's house. It was a few minutes before they arrived, and once they did the lion saw no signs of his parents. Looking at his phone again he saw that it was a little too early for his parents to be home from work so it seemed like they would be alone for a bit.
The two made their way to the front door and Nait unlocked it. Once they were inside, Shakir couldn’t help but look around. The place was bigger than his own and obviously of a different atmosphere than what he was used to. The lion’s family was much more assimilated into the culture than his own and the appearance of various Mexicana was strewn across the house.
The surface of the walls was decorated with a singular wallpaper that was draped over a whitewashed wall. The inside of the home smelt like incense and the unfamiliar scent tickled his nose as he sneezed. They continued to make their way through the house with the bigger boy maintaining the lead to the back area where the kitchen led to a porch and outside area. The family had a yard where many of the boy's outdoor belongings were kept.
The transition from indoors to outdoors was sudden. Shakir shivered a bit as he walked back to the backyard. Shakir’s eyes transitioned against the change in light. Once they were outside Nait pulled himself away to a shack where his parents kept the squirt guns. He went inside the small wooden house and pulled out two larger neon guns that had been stationed alongside the inner wall. He exited the building and then handed one of them to his new friend.
Nait then disappeared for a moment before returning with a hose. The vinyl snake-like garden tool extended across the yard and eventually he brought it close enough so they could use it. The thing was already spouting water and a trail of mud was behind him. The lion filled up both of their fake guns and then simply placed the hose on the floor, almost forgetting about the fact that it was still on and leaking rather profusely.
“One...two...three...begin!” The lion picked his gun back up and began running and squirting the other cub.
Shakir wasn't quite prepared for the start of the ordeal. The sudden burst of water caught him off guard and he felt the cool liquid explode past him. The gazelle retreated backward towards a tree and hang to the side of it. The smaller cub returned fire and squirted back. The stream not reaching far enough to catch his target. Nait giggled and rushed forward spraying the entire time. Some of the streams caught the wind and pushed back onto him.
Shakir rebounded from the tree and met his friend by going forward. The two stood directly in each other's fire. The cold water splashed all over them and soaked their clothes to the point where their bodies and fur were damp. Eventually, they emptied their guns on each other and threw the guns on the floor. By this point, a good portion of the yard had been made wet. Some of it was even submerged in water, at least the areas close to where the spout of the hose was.
Nait bent over and picked up a small pile of mud before throwing it over at Shakir. The gazelle watched as the muck catapulted over to him and slid down the upper portion of his body. The smaller boy smiled and returned the favor, simply kicking up some sludge right beneath his feet. Nait tried to defend himself, holding his paws up then lept forward tackling the other cub. For a moment the two rotated around in a ball laughing and giggling the entire time.
When the small bout of roughhousing was over, Nait helped pick up the other boy and offered a paw to him. Shakir got up and the two smiled at each other.
“Best Friend?” Shakir had been waiting to ask it the entire day even if the question wasn't entirely necessary.
Nait smiled and nodded. The lion cub placed his arm around the smaller boy and the two began to walk back towards the house. Nait's mother was waiting for them, having been watching them for a while but letting them have their fun.
She had recoiled the hose and had it in her paw. The woman pointed at the wall indicating that the boys should stand there. His mother hosed them off and they were given a towel to dry off. She smiled, glad that her son had made a friend at last. It seemed like everything would be fine after all.