The Lion

by Bethany Jarmul

After our son’s MRI at the hospital, we take our family to the zoo; my husband is afraid of the lion, and yes, the male lion roars and we hear it across the park while we’re admiring the grazing zebras with our toddler son and baby daughter; yes, the roar is loud and vibrates our hearts like the bass cranked up in the red convertible car that passed our minivan on the freeway; yes, the lion weighs 400 pounds, has 30 sharp teeth, can run 50 miles per hour; yes, the lion is a predator built to hunt, to kill; yes, the lion can eat 80 pounds per day, more than the combined weight of our children; yes, we may look like delicious two-legged gazelles in the mind of the lion; yes, the lion is the king of the jungle or at least the king of the zoo, but the lion is enclosed; his belly is full of red meat delivered to his door; the female lions are his harem and the cubs are his kids, and we may think our children are so adorable that we could eat them with a spoon, but that lion is maybe, probably, most likely not going to break through the plexiglass to slurp up our children like milkshakes, and when my husband shudders at the lion’s roar and gallops with the stroller past the lion’s enclosure, I want to grab him by the shoulders, shake him, and say: Hey, get a grip! But the truth is—I’m afraid too.

Bethany Jarmul is a writer, editor, and poet. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and been nominated for Best of the Net. She earned first place in Women On Writing’s Q2 2022 essay contest. Bethany enjoys chai lattes, nature walks, and memoirs. She lives near Pittsburgh with her family. Connect with her at or on Twitter: @BethanyJarmul.

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