SAN WISDOMBeatriz Padilla, Chez PantikiWhen the scent of a cat swarmed in her nostrils, she knew this was a moment to squarely face the wind’s tidings. Senses wide alert, heart absolutely loyal, she turned slowly on her axis to find, twelve paces away or so, the lion steadily approaching.

A fortnight before, as women and men of her tribe danced their gentle dance, one behind the other, in a circle that spun around the bonfire, a procession of tiny steps, minimally shaking their hips to make the bottle caps on their waist-hides tinkle, as their sotto voce intonations rose with the smoke, the San elders spoke the words that now came to her rescue.

She took two sharp steps towards the lion, inserting herself straight into its fierce eyes. The cat paused; its intense, ultra-clear orbs of live gold fixed on her. From its muscular chest, low thunder. With the muffled sound of heavy paws, it advanced again. She too moved forth a step, leaned into and deepened her contact with the lion’s razor gaze.

She must find it in herself, she need source and bring unto her face a presence more powerful, a fire, a strength greater than the might in the lion’s eyes. She took one more step forward, firm. The lion halted, grumbled lower yet louder, and a quiver of its muzzle unveiled its upper fangs.
Unflinching, not challenging, she stared deeper into its fearless eyes, holding her ground nearly at arm’s length from the formidable feline.

Time and players motionless, a stalemate seemed to be taking shape. But this was no option. With a full-bodied growl the lion launched a ferocious paw.
The girl’s spirit latched onto a throng of light within, her eyes flashed with supranatural might, glaring, her sheer essence contesting the king.

And the lion flinched, ducked an inch. The girl hammered on, eyes aglow. The cat slowly spun on its axis, walked away, ears flat, now and again glancing back.