The blonde summer grass makes for a good berth. It’s either that or the sun-cracked ground in the Savannah. Everything here is dry now. A pale, sulphury yellow consumes the entire region and everything within. The land, the grass, the trees, they all seem entombed by desiccation. Gaunt, lanky animals are but zombies in search of food. Time is protracted on these windless plains making all other seasons seem ephemeral.
However, a few tall trees donning a cap of green manage to stay resilient. When the mother giraffe isn’t busy on the lookout, she’s munching away at one of these trees. Thornless leaves, Oh! Her favorite! After she’s devoured a good portion of the canopy, she decides it’s time to get going. It’s been a while since they got here and she knows its not safe for long.
She plods nervously beside her resting son, sputtering dust into the air. Pausing from time to time, she splays her stilty legs wide and bends as much as she can. She then pats his forehead with her mouth and yanks him a little. He still doesn’t budge. But she’s not the only one watching intently at his peaceful mien. Yards away, hiding behind a clump of tall grass, are two wild dogs contemplating an attack.
“I think he dead Slick, ain’t you seen her nudge him? He ain’t movin’ alright. That damn’ boy’s a goner.”
“Oh yeah, Wily? Then tell me why the vultures ain’t shown up already? I see no flies hoverin’ either.”
“That’s ’cause the boy ain’t smellin’ yet. He’s still too fresh to tell.”
“And you can tell Wily?”
“I sure as hell can.”
“Right, I’ll alert the vultures. But why ain’t she with the rest of her folks then? If she be here, she’ll be dead too.”
“Maybe that’s her pup. Maybe she mourns him.”
“Or maybe she doesn’t know it yet. That’s why she be waitin’.”
“So you admit he dead!”
“I don’t. I just suppos’d. I won’t ’til I see one of them damn’ vultures. Lazy ass fluff brains never make it on time.”
Slick lets out a disgruntled growl at that last thought, immediately alerting the mother. She prances frantically towards the dogs, her legs flailing about wildly. They fall back to a safe distance but still linger for another chance. The giraffe surprises them with another bout of prancing, nearly trampling Wily. This scares them off for good.
She returns to her son. Still plodding, still splaying, still nudging. The whole Savannah now shares her anxiety. Rodents peep out of their burrows, meerkats stand-upright in attention, elephants huddle with their loved ones, and antelopes freeze and stare. An ethereal bond unites them as curiosity’s gnawing on their patience. They all want to know what the mother knows. But what is it that she knows?