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The Lion Tamer

by erilea

People pour into the already-crowded tent, laughing and chattering and spilling drinks as they flood inside. The sign outside does little except get knocked over time and time again by the eager audience, and every time, the frazzled doorman picks it back up. The Lion Tamer.

The red-and-white stripes of the tent are frayed and stained with remnants of Coke, juice, and bits of food. Some unlucky soul will be cleaning the fabric tomorrow if the ringleader can be bothered.

Tonight, there’s a certain kind of energy in the audience, a buzzing quieted only by the anticipation of what is ahead. The lights dim and the people hush, a few soft murmurs and coughs threading through the silence. When the spotlight lands on the stage, the lion tamer comes out, a smile on her face. It’s not her first day on the job, but there’s still a wild fear in her eyes that most people pass off as adrenaline.

She never wanted to be a lion tamer, only wanted the gold coins that came along with it. But people have forgotten that now. To them, she is an act and will remain that way until her name shows up in the news.

Then she will be a tragedy, soon forgotten. It is difficult to decide which one is sadder. For now, though, she smiles through the fear and takes a deep bow, heavy breaths wracking her chest. She blinks a few times at the blinding light, then hastily hides two shaking hands in her mouth to call up a sharp whistle.

A roar. Just the hint of a massive paw tipped with silver claws that twinkle in the spotlight.

The lion arrives.

It is majestic, or so the members of the audience think. They laugh at its prancing, they smile at its flicking tail. They admire its claws unabashedly. Of course, they're not the ones on the stage.

The tamer is tossed a whip, and she cracks it a few times, letting the noise fill her with false bravado. Just another night, another bag of coins to weigh down her hands. Just another show.

She plasters on the smile again and cracks the whip at the lion. She knows its name--Jingle, horrifyingly cheerful, a name that belongs to sweet-tempered horses and small dogs. Not this beast.

“Come, Jingle,” she whispers. “Up.”

It pads toward the pedestal a few feet away. Too close. She inches back, the smile still on her face. She keeps her eyes away from the audience.

A slab of meat is handed to her from the side of the stage. She makes a careful toss into the lion’s mouth, full of gleaming teeth that shred the meat in seconds.

It satisfies the beast for now.

The show continues, a careful dance between Sky and the ever-gaping maw of the lion. The clapping of the audience vexes it, causing it to snap and snarl at them. They are oblivious. The lights shine upon its eyes, and it growls at the brightness. The stage manager is oblivious.

Another crack of the whip and the lion is off the pedestal. Ever so slowly making its way toward Sky, head tilted just so, tail snapping like an adder poised to strike.

She keeps smiling. It’s what she’s been taught to do.

When the beast is a few inches away from her, it stops. Turns. Smiles at the audience with its teeth on full display--a barbed mockery of the act that Skylar is pulling off, a terrible demonstration of what is to come.

The audience keeps clapping.

The smell of waffles rises through the house, and a woman sits at the table drinking a cup of coffee. A newspaper sits folded in her hands, and she snaps it, making it stand upright as she sips.

“A tragedy,” she sighs, closing the paper and leaving it on the table. “So young, too.”

The paper ends up in the garbage that day.

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Points: 739
Reviews: 14

Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:27 pm
Etteim wrote a review...

Hi, erilea.

This was a short, but interesting read. I liked the atmosphere that you had during the whole story; I could imagine exactly how everything would look, feel, and almost smell. I also enjoyed the conflicting emotions that bounced between the audience and Sky. The audience was carefree, viewing the display as just another show and almost like a game, while Sky felt afraid and on edge at every moment.

The open-ended ending was nice too, not outright stating that Sky was devoured by the lion, but saying just enough to lead the readers to that conclusion. I also liked the last sentence, it showed just how easily everyone forgot about the tragedy, just like what was stated in the beginning.

The only thing I would've liked to see was just for there to be a little more information about Sky, like what led to her becoming a lion tamer, just to establish more insight and connection with her.

Besides that, this was really good. Keep up the great work!


erilea says...

Thanks for the review! :D

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Points: 227
Reviews: 1

Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:11 pm
ujjawaljaiswal2017 wrote a review...

Hi erilea,
I likedd how you set the atmosphere right from the beginning. A typical overcrowded country bar.
The description of the whole act was good too. Although I would have wanted a bit more insight into Sky's character. It would have been better if you would have given her some background.
I loved the style of your ending.

erilea says...

Thank you so much! :D

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279 Reviews

Points: 2762
Reviews: 279

Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:19 am
Horisun wrote a review...

Wow, that ending kind of surprised me! I love how you've written it! The sentences flow very well, and your style of writing is great! the only thing that I think could be tweaked is to give Sky more reason to continue being a lion tamer, it seems like she needs the money, and I'm not sure how much a lion tamer gets, but she doesn't seem to enjoy it, and seems to be a tiny bit scared of it. So why? There are plenty of other jobs.
Despite that, this was really good, and I loved it! Keep writing, and enjoy doing it!

erilea says...

Thank you! :D

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562 Reviews

Points: 14535
Reviews: 562

Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:42 pm
FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...

Hi, Shikora here with a review.

So lets get right to it.

This is a really interesting story you have here, It has a really cool plot, and it would make for a cool long story with chapters. It would be fun to see you tell us the reader how Sky became the lion tamer, if you do that, I would be reading that story.
The next thing I liked was that you did a lot of description, it aloud me as the reader to be part of that world you made, I felt like I was one of the people sitting along the crowd. So that's was really cool.
I really liked the name you chose for this story, it may have told us what the story was about, but it still drew me in right away, and that's something you want to have, to have the power the make your readers come and read your work by just looking at the name.
Now the ending was a bit strange, but I think you wanted us as the reader to come up with the ending. I'm not sure, but it did make a cool twist on the story, so great job.

Well that's all from me today, I hope to see more of your works on YWS soon, I really enjoyed reading and reviewing your story, and I'm sure it will make a cool long story, but that is all up to you. Never stop writing and have a great day/night.

Your friend
Shikora. :D

erilea says...

I actually did want to leave the ending open, but it's implied that Sky was eaten by the lion. ;)
Thanks for the review!

Yeah that's what I thought happened.
Your welcome.

You are strong enough to conquer this day and the rest of your life.
— Tuckster