The plains of the Savannah stretched far and wide, and, in every direction, no one was around.
Ralphie was horribly lost.
He called for his mother. He heard his own voice echo back at him, but nothing else.
He was entirely alone.
He thought back on the last few days and the events that led him to this moment.
It was the time of the year when all the Wildebeest migrate—the great herds moving together across waters, hills, and valleys. Ralphie had eagerly awaited the move.
“Are the leaving yet?” he asked his mother over and over.
“Not yet,” she would respond patiently. “You will know when it is time.”
Then, a few mornings later, the entire herd was restless.
“Today is the day,” his mother said to him as he blinked his eyes open. “Today, we are moving.”
The herd gathered around one of their leaders to listen to him speak.
“Today,” he began, “is the day that, once again, we will begin our great move. Young ones,” he said, gazing across the herd, “this is the first time you will make this journey. It is of the utmost importance that you stick to your mother. Do not fall behind, or you will be left behind.”
Ralphie shuddered. He instinctively stepped closer to his mother, feeling her warm side against his.
“I won’t lose you, Ralphie,” she said kindly. “I promise.”
And so, the move began.
They thundered across the plain that had been their home for so long—the only home Ralphie had ever known—and began their long trek towards their new home for the next few seasons.
The ground shook under their hooves as they stampeded into a narrow river and up a shallow bank.
Ralphie stuck close to his mother, sometimes following in her footsteps, sometimes running at her flanks.
Don’t lose her, he said to himself. Or you will surely be lost forever.
They traveled all day, then stopped in a sheltered area to rest for the night.
Ralphie had just laid down to rest when everyone’s head shot up in alarm.
“What is it?” Ralphie asked his mother.
“Shh,” she responded quickly. “Don’t make a sound.”
“Why?” he whispered.
“Lions,” she breathed.
And then, they were on them. A pack of lions leapt over their rocky barrier and into their herd. Immediately, they were off.
Ralphie scrambled to his feet and took off after his mother in the dark.
And then—a set of yellow eyes penetrated the darkness, right in front of him.
He cried out and quickly changed directions, charging in the other direction—right into yet another set of yellow eyes. He turned again and saw more. Every direction he turned, he was met with yellow eyes.
He called out to his mother, but didn’t have time to wait for a response. When one of the lions dove, Ralphie ducked, narrowly escaping its sharp claws.
He ran madly and blindly, hardly able to see in the darkness, not knowing which direction he was going except away—away from the hungry lions and certain death.
He ran until his legs could carry him no more, and he collapsed.
By then, the sun had begun to rise, and with a glance behind him he realized with relief that the lions were gone.
He was safe, from them, at least.
He stood up and looked around. Where was he?
It was here that he stayed, calling for his mother. Alone in this vast plain with no one in sight, he knew he was hopelessly, hopelessly lost.
The words of the leader flashed through his mind. “It is of the utmost importance that you stick to your mother. Do not fall behind, or you will be left behind.” He shuddered again at those words.
That is what has happened, he thought to himself. I fell behind, and I was left behind.
He stomped his foot with resolve. “I will not stay here to die,” he said strongly. “I will find my herd.”
He looked to his left and saw that the plains sloped up to a small hill. He ran towards it, hoping to see more from higher ground.
He ran carelessly, without looking, and—BAM—straight into something.
He tumbled backwards and fell in a heap.
Oh no, he thought to himself, did the lions find me?
He closed his eyes tightly, bracing himself, when he heard a kind voice.
Ralphie blinked open his eyes and looked up.
Standing over him, looking down at him kindly, was the face of his mother.
“Mama!” he said, leaping to his feet. “You found me!”
She nuzzled him softly. “I promised you, Ralphie, I will never lose you.”
She led him back to their herd, where he was met with smiling faces.
“I will always find you,” his mother said kindly. “And I will always bring you home.”