It is building up deep within her fragile body like a heaving monsoon forming over the dry, cracked, heavy heat of an African savannah; an unforgiving and all-consuming storm desperately willing to drown out its less than fleeting welcome. Flickering with ceaseless coils of skin-searing energy like a grey-faced fugitive's adrenaline stricken heartbeat, it is not a bringer of life, but a threat to itand even the most reckless are hardwired to take flight in the face of such a colossal and uncompromising foe.
Beyond these white-washed walls, the world would have her believe that she is brave, a lioness, an exception confronted by the inevitable; but outrunning the storm is no longer an option, and she has never felt more betrayed. Slowly, it is emanating from her heart and through the pulmonary arterythere, free to roll and crash, it engulfs her lungs in a terrible thunder that rattles the brittle bones holding her together. The ominous feeling that has settled into the pit of her stomach is no secret, and she doesn't know how long it will be until everything finally, finally gives way.
There is a tempest inside of her, and her golden lion's mane is thinning.
A certain sort of poetry exists in the way that she dreams, all glinting sunspots like liquid gold that blind her mind's eye and great, slumbering giants with velveteen paws and soft, damp noses bigger than her entire torso. A far cry from her usually barren desert, this dreamscape undulates with the quiet breaths of the sleeping land beneath, each hill shaped with the imprecise features of a kind face. Sometimes, just to remind herself that she can, she will run up over their crowns or roll down over green foreheads until her journey ends with crushed dandelion lashes and the bridge of a mossy nose, gasping in unison with them as they begin to stir from their non-existent but everlasting slumber. (That is, of course, until their eyelids clog with dirt and tendrils of newly emergent, multi-coloured undergrowth that traps them shut. As far as she knows, they have never yet quite managed to awaken.)
There is no thunder here.
In its place hangs a perpetually quiet ceiling painted with white and blue and often, just to break the silence, she will stretch up into the sky and roar. During her waking moments, with the storm's havoc curled around her vocal chords, that sound lingers ever-so-slightly out of reach. It is satisfying to hear her own mighty voice and this way, when it echoes back and reverberates through her, she can carry its strength back to her cold, white bed.
After all, she thinks, someday a lion's roar might be needed somewhere other than in this place where nothing ever wakes, especially not herself. Regardless, she would give anything not to have those sunspots become nothing more than just reflections from too-bright windows onto too-tired eyes.
No, that won't work now. It's too fragile.
They breathe the words by her bedside, and they flicker black and blue over her feeble sleep-feigning form. She hasn't truly been told any of this, not yet, and her frustration is insurmountable. After all, it is her lion's heart that is failing, not any of theirs.
She makes easy reading of their dishonesty through the furrows on their faces and slight falter their lips make as each carefully chosen word is set free in a flurry of comforts and reassurances. Sinking into the ignorance of the best possible intentions, they blunder forlornly through each exchange like vain antelope at a river crossing. In spite of this, she allows them to persevere, because she has realised that the words they are keeping from her may well be harder for them to articulate than for her to hear.
Permitting them to dictate the woes of her ailing survivor's heart is her penultimate act of kindness.
I'm sorry. There's just no time.
When the monsoon finally arrives to spine-shattering, earth-shaking applause, there is simply nothing that can be done. This storm would inundate even the dream world and, with open eyes and mud dripping down their sodden cheeks, the grass faces would cry with wonder at this first rain to end all others.
There's no time...
Not, that is, until a golden lion's roar splits the monsoon in two.