Hagan hated those doors, every day he’d be locked behind those solid oak boards. “Little children are to be seen not heard” his uncle mocked him, everytime he complained about his injustice and his uncle would leave slamming the door behind him, the latch clicking into place. And every day Hagan would stare out after him longingly, while he would troop away heavily, knowing he wouldn’t be back till the afternoon dusk.
He would wait till his uncle would close the brown gate at the end of the of the path and his old straw hat would finally fade out of view under the deep green of the jungle along the road. And Hagan would rush to the cupboard and open the wooden doors of the cupboard under the sink to find if he was lucky enough to have a dry loaf of bread.
This one particular day was special, today he couldn’t wait for his horrible relative to leave, he was excited to see the creaky door close and hear the hard thud of his feet leave down the gravel path towards work past the jungle.
When the last sound of his footsteps faded into the air, he crept over to the cupboard as he had done many times before, where he would hopefully find small amount of hard bread. He opened the cupboard to find nothing, he sighed in exasperation even though he knew could probably live off the amount he had saved for the next few weeks.
He crept over to the door and harshly pushed it, it gave way with a loud groan. He glanced both ways making sure he couldn’t be seen by anybody. He pulled up the brown bag at his feet filled up with the few things he could take, a thin coat that he had stuffed in with his food and fresh water supplies. He heaved the sack over the window sill, and watched land on the ground on the other side. Hagan then pulled himself up and out the window and landed with his two feet on the ground.
He looked up at the window knowing wouldn’t miss what lay behind it. His eyes grew hazy as he remembered the found it. He had discovered the window just two weeks ago when Hagan had hidden behind the bookcase filled with the different sorts of animals all around the world, that had stood in front of it for many years. His eyes flashed back open he realized he’d had to leave quickly before his uncle returned at nightfall.
Hagan approached the jungle, he could hear the trees creaking further into the depths of the damp forest. Fresh rainwater ran from the wide leaves, and fell gently with a low echoing drip. He crept between the soft green velvet of the large rocks scattered around the jungle, in the distance he could hear a faint roar of a waterfall. He began clamber towards the sound, hoping he would reach the water before dark.
He tramped for the rest of the day and only stopped for a short time a noon, to nibble at a small slice of of bread. Finally just before the faint green forest dulled he reached a rushing river. He bent down and scooped down with a shallow bottle and filled it with the fresh water that ran past, and settled down with another thin slice of bread and fell asleep under the towering protection of a large oak.
Hagan opened his eyes to the piercing light of the morning sweeping through trees overhead, he lay stiffly on the ground and gazed around sleepily the landscape of the trees had thinned out and and tall oak tree had gone. He cautiously pushed himself up from the ground but turned rapidly around at the sound of a small curious growl behind him.
His body tensed, an icy shiver crawled his spine he stood almost nose to nose with an animal the size of a large dog, he could hear the heavy pant coming from his throat with each raspy breath the warm breath gently brushing his hair on his forehead. He could still remember the books he would read during the long hours of the day, he could still visualize that at one stage the time he had admired this strong courageous animal, but at the moment of fear it was to imagine this ever being a beautiful beast. Hagan stared at it with pleading eyes, but he knew it was to late. The lion pounced.
He braced himself for the attack, he he squeezed his eyes tightly, but it didn’t come. He flashed his eyes open and let go of his breath as the loin no longer stood in front of him. But a sound of a light purr escaped from an animal's lips behind him, he turned suddenly in shock, the lion must of sprang over him instead of at his chest. Hagan then realized the lion had only been playing with him. It had seen him not as a creature of prey but a friend.
But Hagan still steered it with cation in the eye and approached in steady steps. The lion which was a she, watch and left him slowly come towards her. He touched her gently on the nose, his hand reached it’s back and patted her like a pet. The were instantly close friends.
As days past they travelled and hunted together deeper and deeper into the greenery. Soon a late night they a hollow at the bottom of a hill the reached the damp home of the lion. A family lay there waiting expectantly for what their leader would bring for them, and she nudged Hagan forward, who looked around nervously at the rest of the pack. He soon realized there were only very young cubs, there was absolutely no other parent, never would he guess this was soon to be his job.
Weeks past which turned month's, soon turning to years. Three years Hagan had grown stronger, faster and bigger. He felt prepared for anything, he had learned to hunt, to creep up on his prey silently. He would imitate the way they would huddle together on the cold winter nights. They days began to grow warm and the end of the fourth year approached rapidly, but so did they the hunters.
Hagan woke up to a bright sunny morning, it started with daily routine to find their breakfast and the pack rushed excitedly towards the depths of the jungle. The sun began rise quickly towards mid day and they returned home with a fresh kill of meat. Only when they were a mile from home, they birds began to chirp flying from the trees, he could feel a harsh cold shiver crawling up his spine. He could hear his own words ringing his ears, “RUN”! They ran from fright, they didn’t understand him.
He saw the cubs run steadily the rest of way to the safety of their cave. The adult lion, the one who had found him on his first day, was slow, trying to leave desperately for the cubs who may be in need of her protection. He sprinted to run with her, blood pounding in ears he had read once what they would do. He heard the shot ring from a gun, he could just imagine the bullet whizzing to the she lion. He saw her blood pouring from the wound. Hagan couldn’t bear it, he clasped to the ground. All he remembered was firm hands grabbing him, the strong smell and it all went black.
He woke up the next morning sunlight streaming in his, “ About time you woke up” he heard a harsh voice come the corner room. There stood a woman with hair pulled back into tight bun, that left a distinct outline of her jaw bone set in a stern position. He sat up rosaly, his eyes cleared from sleep and observed the room around him they walls were bare with hard wooden floors with a worn gray rug in the middle of the floor. She walked towards him with a tray he hadn’t seen when he looked before, she laid it down on his lap and left the room to let him to eat in private. Hagan looked down on his plate there lay two thick pieces of rough brown spread with a thin layer. He could hear stomach growl at the sight of food. He began to gulp down the bread, the flavour was poor after rich meat the jungle.
After a few minutes the door creaked open and the elderly woman approached him again and laid a pair of faded clothes at foot the bed and advised him to stand up and get dressed, “now that you're awake, you can start some work to be useful for a change,” she spoke creully like she had harsh life, not a good day once in her life. He rouse harriedly at sound urgency in her voice and dressed quickly. She smiled sadly when she sent him down a pair stairs, maybe there was a heart in her yet he thought. He soon found himself in kitchen, when he saw an elderly man sitting at a table in the center of the floor. The man raised his head towards him, at the squeak of the floor boards. He began to speak gruffly to Hagan, “Hey boy, what would your name be, if you have one, that is” he mocked
“Hagan” came a meek reply
“Okay Hagan, around here you call me sir, understand, you work for me”
“Yes Sir” Hagan responded fearfully
“Today your washing windows tomorrow we’ll see what’s to be done”
That was the longest conversation the boy ever came to have with anybody after that
Days past slowly and painfully, and he was continually given new jobs each day, he would pass looking out the grain fields of the plantation. Whenever the jobs came to an end they would start from the beginning. He never saw the old gray haired lady from his first day again.A particular sunny breezeless Autumn day, a few months later ,Hagan had been busily painting an old rustic building, when he heard a familiar growl of greeting, he turned to three beautiful lions standing sturdily under the trees of it was the cubs he had looked after just two months before. He dropped the brush he was holding and ran towards them, his hair ruffling as he ran towards him. Hagan looked back on the large house behind him once before he rushed with the animals through stalks of grain. Gone Forever.