(The jungle and river in Luang Prabang, Laos: Wiki Commons)
Story. One day, a little girl named Anne was playing with a girl named Sun outside Anne's house. They were playing hide and seek. Anne was the seeker and Sun had to hide. Sun went to hide in Anne's kitchen. Anne looked for Sun outside, but she could not be found. Since Sun didn't hear Anne's footsteps anymore, she ran outside to hide in another place, but hit a pot on the way. It was Anne's mom's ceramic pot! Sun got scared and ran home.
Anne could not find Sun outside at all. "Maybe she is inside," thought Anne. So, Anne walked home only to find her mom angry.
Her mom asked, "Why did you break my precious pot, Anne?!"
"I didn't do it," said Anne. She totally forgot about hide and seek. Anne's mom disregarded her words and gave her a stern lecture. All Anne could do was sit there and take in the lecture or else should would be spanked. Anne thought, "I'm always being blamed for things I didn't do."
Anne was fed up with being lectured and became sad and angry. She looked up to the sky in vain. Her eyes were filled with anger and redness. Every time she got in trouble, she desperately wanted to run away to the forest. And this time, her desire to run was more than ever.
When her mom finished lecturing her, she blindly ran to the forest. She didn't care about packing. She was so mad with anger, and didn't care about anything. She was not afraid of the dark, the bugs, or the wild animals.
After feeling drained, Anne stopped and hugged a tree to keep from falling. When she stopped running, her mind returned to thinking. All those thoughts of yelling and sadness came again. She sat down with the tree supporting her back. She looked up in the sky again to see the only source of light, the moon. Feeling the moon's comforting light, the little girl went to sleep.
A few hours later, a tiger saw Anne, and she woke up to the tiger's footsteps. The tiger stopped in its tracks and they stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. The tiger bore through Anne's eyes, but Anne wasn't afraid. Then, the tiger slowly walked towards Anne and laid down next to her. Anne did not feel in danger, so she went to sleep.
When Anne woke up to the early, shining lights of dawn, the tiger was no longer there. At home, Anne had to wake up early with her mom to prepare breakfast. However, now, she did not need to anymore. Anne was happy to have no chores and responsibilities. She explored the forest to find a place to stay.
Day by day, little Anne started her day finding some food to go with the little game she caught. Then, she made a fire, cooked her food, ate, and explored the forest. She occasionally thought of the good times at home, but she thought she could never return home. After being gone for many days, there was no way her mom would not be mad at her. She would get a lecture and spanking for sure.
During Anne's daily routine, the tiger always watched from far away. Anne caught glimpses of the tiger, but she did not notice it everyday. The tiger became intrigued with this little girl like her own little girl who recently died from an attack.
The tiger went to a witch who lived deep in the forest and asked her for help, but didn't say exactly what it was. The witch could read minds. She followed the tiger to Anne.
"A human child. What do you want with her?" said the witch.
The tiger said in her mind, "She's been alone for a while. I want you to turn the kid to a tiger, so I can take care of her and fill in my void from the daughter I lost. Please, witch."
The witch was unsure of what to do. The witch approached Anne from her back and asked, "What are you doing so deep in the forest, child?"
Anne was startled and didn't say anything. She acted like the witch wasn't there. The witch tried getting answers, but Anne still ignored her. Then, the tiger appeared and Anne looked at the tiger with a pleading look.
"Do you like that tiger?" questioned the Witch. Anne nodded her head slightly to indicate a yes.
The tiger, after hearing this, pleaded to the witch to grant her wish. The witch felt pity for the tiger and the child's loneliness. The witch then used a spell to transform the girl into a tiger. During the process, the girl realized what was happening. She yelled, "Stop! I don't want to be a tiger! I don't know who you are! I want to go home! Mommy!"
It was too late. The witch could not turn her back.
Anne lived as a tiger and accompanied the mother tiger. Anne often thought of her own mother, but nothing could be done. Anne learned to live as a tiger and would remain as one forever.
Author's Note. This story is based from A Child of the Woods from the Laos unit. In the original story, a child runs into the jungle unafraid and full of anger because she hated all people. The hate slowly increased until she liked the animals better. Like this story, a tiger sleeps a night with her. Also, the wild animals protect her. However, in the end she returns home after she feels like she does not hate people anymore. When she told people about the man-eating tiger, they gave her gifts and items. However, she still thought of her times in the jungle. I decided it to change it up and keep the girl in the jungle with a loving tiger who would be nice and take care of her. I usually write happy endings, and I wanted to try writing a not happy ending. The part about the witch was made up as well. I had to find something to transform the girl.
Bibliography. A Child of the Woods from Folklore of Laos by Katherine Neville Fleeson; link to reading online.