Animal Dilemmas – Lemur Oyster
The boat hugged the coast for a while longer before it made a turn for the open sea. The two giants navigating the small vessel in turns made no conversation. While one was at the stern of the boat the other held two fishing lines. He bait them with a piece of dead fish and let them drag after the boat. Every so often the one of the lines would tighten and the giant would pull it out. Most of the time the fish would fight so vigorously that it would tear its jaw from the hook and swim away in great pain. On a few lucky occasions the giant would catch a small tuna or marlin.
The day went by in this repetitive fashion but the Oyster wedged in between the boat’s floor boards it was even less eventful. Out of the water the Oyster started quickly to dehydrate. The high sun baked it and evaporated the little liquids it had in store. The Oyster measured its breathing and as the day progressed increased the intervals between inhales. The night was cooler but the Oyster still preserved its energy methodically.
At night the giants didn’t fish but took turns to sleep. The following day land was in sight and by noon they arrived to a small fishing village. The giants moored the boat took their fish and landed. The sun was climbing and the Oyster was nearly out of breath when a ring-tailed Lemur climbed into the boat hoping to steal a fish of two.
The Lemur sniffed around the boat and the closest thing to fish it found was the Oyster. It grabbed it jumped out of the boat and vanished among the trees. On the border of its troop’s habitat the Lemur urinated on several trees as t had done for years to mark their territory. It was no longer its duty for it was getting old and another female, strong and its prime, had taken the leadership. The Lemur was now odd and sluggish and didn’t contribute much to the troop. It felt guilty for eating on their supplies and many nights it took its guilt and slept alone. The rest of the troop clustered in groups at night to stay warm. But the old female felt like it didn’t deserve warm hugs any more.
It tried to compensate the cold lonely nights with long sunbaths in the mornings but its health was failing. That is why the Lemur ventured far from the troop’s grounds to obtain its own food and when it occasionally stole a large fish contribute to the colony and feel useful again. But luck has evaded it lately and the Oyster was no exception. The Lemur banged it against a tree trunk for while effectively taking its last breath.
The Oyster’s composure was lost after more than a day out of water and the Lemur’s blows jumbled up its tired body. When it saw that it will not get a meal out of the Oyster the Lemur hurled it into the trees. The shell flew but it didn’t land on the ground instead it tangled in the lianas and hanged like jewel. The Lemur stared at the shell for some time, climbed the lianas and reclaimed it. It chewed off some fine lianas wrapped them around the shell and around is neck and stared back with its new talisman.
The Oyster shell’s gentle sway on its neck compensated the Lemur for a portion of the pain of loneliness and marginalization. When the pain peaked, the Lemur picked up the shell and studied its curves. It span it around and watched the sun reflect on its shiny surface. It soon attracted the attention of other females and even a horde male lemur. The females pulled the lianas and tried to take the neckless away but the old Lemur fought back and defended its treasure. At first the renewed attention in its persona was pleasant. But when the younger females grouped and tried to steal the shell the Lemur retreated to a safe lonely distance.
A few days passed and the Lemur was sunbathing one morning on a grass patch with most of the troop. When another lemur sat next to it sniffed the air and hurried away. The Lemur looked around and noticed that the troop was avoiding it. It sniffed the air and detected a foul smell. The dead Oyster was decomposing inside the shell and the smell of rotting flesh was seeping out from a crack in the shell.
The troop of lemurs avoided the the old female because it carried the smell of death and they thought it was to die itself. The Lemur knew it had to part with its jewel but the shell has given it so much peace that it has become its most cherished friend. The Lemur wondered the jungle clutching to the shell, sleeping alone and sunbathing alone in the mornings. At times the Lemur had to stuff tree leaves in its nose to avoid the smell. One morning, it climbed a tall tree took the neckless off and was about to hurl it into the canopy.
But when it lift it up the leaves fell out of its nose, it sniffed the air and realized that the shell didn’t smell any longer. The Oyster had shrunk and dried inside from the sunbathing and all the foul smell had left it. The Lemur jump in delight and started the long walk back to its troop.
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