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The Scrap Metal Princess (Watty Awards 2012)

Dedicated to
OnyxInk
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Strength. It lives somewhere inside of you meant as a last reserve. 

Strengh. It is not how much you can lift or how hard you can punch...

When you are runnning out of breath and on the verge of collapse and your mouth is dry and your scarred and bruised...but you still keep going...when your a little boy who has suddenly had to grow up, when the yelling and fighting is pushing you off the edge, when you don't understand but you feel like it's your fault...it must be your fault...but you keep going, and what's more, you find inside of you, that place deep inside of you, strength to not only keep going, but strength to keep from running away...

Ramos remembered the lions that could hide their golden mane so well in the tall golden grass of the savanah, he remembered the lions that would always be silent, and he remembered the lion cub. Sana had been a little over 6 years old when he first took her outside the fences. He had told her to stay close behind him, the wilderness was great, so long as you stuck to the path, he was 8 and he wasn't really aloud to go outside the fence either, but his father had only specified that it was "too dangerous to go out there alone" so he took Sana. That's when she got lost. He got up suddenly, thinking that he could no longer hear her footsteps behind him, or her nonstop chatter. 

"Sana" he yelled. Turning around and looking behind trees. She was probably just playing hide and seek. 

"Sana" he yelled more frantically now. 

He saw the blue wild berry flowers she had been picking littered across the greener prairie grass and when he followed them, he ran like he had never run before. And when he found her, his heart could beat no faster...Sana was sitting under a tree with a lion cub in her lap. She was running her hand through its golden fur as if it were a pet this prince of the wild. 

Sana's eyes were wild, she had not disappeared more than half an hour and already her face was aglow with freedom, the wide open land and the fresh savana air. Beads of sweat rolled down Ramos' face as she walked up to Sana and picked her up the cub to put it back with the others cubs nearby. 

He was still very little and the lion cub was the size of a large dog compared to him and bit down hard on his arms. He sucked in his breath, Ramos was never one to cry too easily, at least not in front of Sana. 

Sana suddenly stopped laughing. 

"What is it? Sana we need to go now, we have to go back to the path, just follow the blue flowers" but Sana did not move. 

Ramos turned around slowly, and he saw the lioness standing in front of him, its golden body casting a shadow over him. Its teeth were bared and the white fur around its mouth was stained crimson with blood. Ramos did not shift his gaze, but through the corners of his eyes, he saw the lion cubs jump at the carcass. Sana screamed and it was then that Ramos picked her up on piggy back and ran off with her bouncing on his back. 

The sun kept beating down on his skin, burning it darker than it already was. Adrenaline pumped thorugh the body of the boy and Sana held onto his neck with a death grip. Ramos was extremely aware of the footsteps of the lion bounding after him. 

Stride after stride, the boy's skinny legs could not carry him far enough away. He did not know that the lioness had already hunted that day and that even though there was always room for more in the hungry stomach of the hunter, it's mouth had run dry and its energy was depleted. But every time Ramos looked at the savana, he always thought he could see the glowing amber eyes of the lioness, just waiting for him to come back to her territory. 

He liked to go back to that physical fear when there were so many others he didn't want to face. When his mother lost their baby brother it became as though she was just a ghost of herself. He was scared that she would leave them for real, and then their father became more and more angry with everyone and everything, and Ramos had lost track of the times he had had to stand between his father and Sana, he had lost track of when he turned 13, he had lost track of when his baby sister had packed away a bag and decided to run away, he had lost track in the battles of the child soldier on the frontlines of life...and the mother who had already lost one child, lost two more as one ran away and the other grew up...

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