A stormy day.


Matilda, the kangaroo who stands in the living room, watched the television, which seemed permanently tuned to bbc news twenty four.  Gloomily, she watched the weather forecast, unable to read the writing, but recognising the symbols of storms and heavy rain.  Sighing with resignation, she turned her attention to Hop Along, who watched all from his new place, where he could see everything going on in the room.  Bruin yawned, stretching his forepaws.  He’d been asleep for the last few hours, and the familiar BBC news signature tune had woken him, its final crashing notes shaking him into full consciousness.  He looked to his left, straight into Clarence’s face.  The lion, lying with his chin resting on his crossed forepaws , regarded the world through half closed eyes.

      “Those storms will be nothing,”  he predicted, “nothing to what I was used to.  I lived in the Okavango delta, where we had to learn to live with water.  My cubs played in it.  Now that’s a strange thing for cats to do.  My cubs,,”  Clarence wiped his eyes with one massive forepaw, “they learned to hunt in the water, and so did I.  I had to!  Now, well, that’s all ended.”  Clarence swallowed hard, trying to stop himself from crying.

      “You miss your cubs don’t you,”  Carol said gently, surprised she was talking to a lion.  Clarence looked at the large white rabbit.

       “I do Carol,”  Clarence replied, “I miss them more than I can tell you.”  Carol leapt down from her place on the coffee table, and crawled across to Clarence.  The huge lion leant down, and picked the rabbit up in his forepaws.  Lewis spat at the lion.

     “You hurt my sister, I will break your paws!”  He blustered.  Isaac laughed harshly.

      “I’d like to see you try,”  he said, “Clarence would eat you for dinner!”  Lewis thumped his hind paws on the coffee table, angry with Clarence, who ignored him, instead concentrating on stroking Carol’s head and ears with one massive forepaw.  Carol looked into the lion’s face, reaching up a paw to touch his nose.  Clarence licked her paw as she touched his nose.  Carol withdrew her paw slightly as she felt the lion’s rough tongue against her pads.

      “You have such soft fur,”  Clarence said to Carol, who tried not to tremble with fear as Clarence hugged her.  Carol looked down and saw one of Clarence’s large forepaws.  She began stroking his paw, Clarence smiling at her.  Clarence stopped stroking Carol, tucking his forepaws under his chin and closing his eyes.  Carol crawled away, examining Clarence closely, from his forepaws to his hind.  She ruffled Clarence’s mane with her paw, the lion breathing deeply as he dozed.  Carol crawled towards Clarence’s hind paws, finding the lion’s short tail.  Picking the end up in her forepaws she played with the tassel.  Clarence slept on, unconcerned by the rabbit’s actions.  Clarence’s hind paws caught Carol’s eye.  They were almost as large as his forepaws, and when Carol touched the pads on the sole of one paw, she found them tough, the fur around them soft and silky.  Carol stroked Clarence’s hind paw.  Turning her attention to his other hind paw, stroking both in turn.  Clarence unconsciously curled his toes around carol’s paw, holding her pads against his.  It seemed as if the lion enjoyed having his paws stroked.  Carol gently removed her paw from Clarence’s, working it free from the lion’s grip.  Smoothing her paw across Clarence’s pads, Carol saw stroking the pads of his paw caused Clarence to relax.  The huge lion relaxed, sighing contentedly in sleep.  Carol gently stroked Clarence’s hind paw.  She was engaged in this pastime when Clarence suddenly woke screaming!

      “There’s a huge storm coming!”  He mewed pitifully.  Carol felt Clarence’s paw become damp with sweat, the lion clenching his paws in fear.

      “I can hear the thunder coming!”  Clarence whimpered, shaking with fear.  Bruin looked at Clarence.

      “Shut it!”  He snapped.  Clarence buried his face in his forepaws, whimpering with misery.  Bruin smacked Clarence’s forepaw with his.  Clarence began to cry.

      “I’ve got a headache!”  he wailed, banging the sofa with his paws.  Carol heard Clarence’s accelerated breathing, and realised he was terrified.

      “I’ll try and help you if you want,”  the rabbit said to the lion.  Clarence looked behind him, to where Carol was playing with his tail.

      “How can you help me?”  he asked, desperate for anything.

      “I will try stroking your paws,”  Carol said, “concentrate on that rather than on your headache.”  Clarence consented, and Carol began stroking the lion’s right hind paw.  The tense paw relaxed as she worked, Clarence becoming calmer and eventually relaxing his entire body.  When carol came to Clarence’s left forepaw, after Massaging his right and left hind paws, carol looked into the lion’s face.  Clarence was almost asleep.

      “Paw massage is good,”  Clarence murmured, “headache gone, fear gone too.”  Carol took hold of the lion’s huge left forepaw and began to stroke it.


When the storm broke, thunder crashed overhead, rain fell heavily, and lightening lit up the sky.  Clarence whimpered and pawed nervously at the sofa.

     “Concentrate on your paws Clarence,”  Carol said gently.  Clarence took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

      “Concentrate on my paws,”  he said aloud, “Clarence, concentrate on your paws!”  Clarence closed his eyes, willing himself to track the progress of Carol’s paws over his.  Breathing slowly, Clarence fought to keep control.

     “I’ve read about the Okavango,”  Sparky said, “aren’t there huge storms there all the time in the wet season?  If so, then why are you so terrified of a little local storm?”  Clarence whimpered with fear.

      “I was terrified of them when I was a cub!”  The panic stricken lion wailed, “I never got used to them!”  Suddenly hail hit the windows!


Kalahari leapt onto the window sill and looked out at the street!

     “Huge hailstones!”  The meerkat said excitedly.  Clarence screeched with terror as thunder crashed suddenly overhead.  Carol felt Clarence’s paws trembling as she massaged them.

      “Concentrate on your paws Clarence,”  The doe said.  Clarence covered his ears with his forepaws.

      “I can’t cope with this!”  He yelled, “I can’t cope with this any more!”  Then, as soon as the storm started, it slowed and died.  The silence was deafening.

      “There you are Clarence,”  one of the capybara said, “it’s all over, and you didn’t get wet!  Scaredy cat!”  Clarence snarled feebly, but didn’t have the energy to get properly angry.  Clarence took Carol in his paws and hugged her.

     “Thank you,”  he said, nuzzling the doe’s ear.  Carol felt Clarence’s wet fur against her ear and realised the huge lion had been crying.

     “It’s all finished now,”  Carol said.  Clarence nodded, stroking Carol with his forepaws.  Carol returned to her place, having dispelled the myth all lions were out to eat anything smaller than them which moved.  Lewis watched his sister’s arrival on the coffee table.

      “that Clarence is a big sissy!”  the buck rabbit scoffed.

     “He’s a big softy you mean,”  Carol replied.


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