Written by and copyright 1997 Katherine Delany, aka Fevra. (E-mail: email@example.com)
Fevra moved through the tall grass as quietly as was possible for a half grown Serval cub. She was a small feline inhabitant of Africa's grasslands, her still fuzzy fur a rich golden brown in color, marked with black spots that merged into stripes streaming along her spine, and broken rings on her long legs and short tail. She might have been mistaken for a small Cheetah, but for her ears--these, as in all of her species, were large and oval. Always set upright, at the moment, her ears were pricked alertly, testing for sounds even as the cub scanned the area with her yellow-brown, cat-slitted eyes.
She was looking for her mother, whom she still depended on emotionally and for continued teaching. Although by no means completely independent as yet, Fevra knew enough of survival and hunting (she was weaned, and she'd been forced to remind her mother on occasion) to manage, and indeed enjoy, solitary exploration for a few days. She had just returned from a relatively lengthy time away from home, and was impatient to begin relating her adventures.
Not seeing the adult anywhere in the surrounding grass, the cub began to feel slightly nervous, but then remembered that her mother was probably sleeping inside their home form, a large and somewhat mildewed hollow grass-mound.
"Mum?" she mewed in question. She walked into the form confidently, but as the silence after her query became lengthy her earlier nervousness returned. Her eyes quickly adjusted to the dimmer light of the form's interior, and a single glance around it told her that her mother was not there. Only then did she finally register the fact that the other Serval's lingering scent was days old. The cub mewed again, with growing distress in her tone.
As the hours wore on, Fevra's confidence in her mother's return lessened steadily. Outside, it grew darker, until night fell. The sky's brightening with early morning found the cub curled up tightly against one dry grass wall, whimpering to herself. Like any young being, she had unconsciously expected that nothing truly bad would happen to her. Her mother would always be there for her...but in a short space of time Fevra's world had changed forever.
The sun was shining brightly again when she finally stirred, uncurled, and stepped outside of the form, but she had no idea how much time had passed. She was unaware even of if she had slept, knowing only that she had lain in the darkness and thought intently, coming repeatedly to the same forced conclusion of what she had to do. She looked back at the grass mound, her home since birth, all the few months of her life so far, then padded slowly, reluctantly, to the nearby stream, and lowered her head for what she knew would be her last sight and taste of its water. She had to leave.
The young Serval had no desire to abandon the only home she knew, but at the same time was aware that she must. She could not forget or ignore what her mother had repeated to her since she had been weaned, and had some chance of lone survival. The memory of her mother's voice was clear, explaining with quiet force.
"If anything happens to me when you're still a cub--if I die, or even if I just disappear--you must leave here. This is a fine territory, as I've said, and it has our stream, a reliable watersource. If another Serval found out I was gone, she would want to take it over, and the presence of a weak cub wouldn't stop her. She would drive you off, at the very least. You wouldn't have any chance against an adult, my daughter, and there would me no use in even trying to stay. So if something happens, leave. Don't waste time, don't look back, don't stay to mourn. Get as far away as you can, quickly, and hope for the best."
Fevra half-sobbed at the memory, grieving for her mother, almost unable to believe that the dreaded possibility had become a truth she had to face. Leave and don't look back. After a last drink from the stream that was the main cause of that commandment, she left. Determined now, the young Serval didn't turn to look backwards as she resolutely set out into the world she knew so little of.
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