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A Stripe of Black

By: Rachel W.
Indonesia, Age 14

Long, long, ago, before there were humans to cage animals, the animals roamed freely wherever they pleased. There were lions, bears, and monkeys, but the most beautiful of them all was the zebra. She had dazzling white hair and a mane that stuck straight up. Like the horse, she had graceful long legs. Even though she was so wonderful, you would think she would be proud of herself, but she was as humble as a mouse. All of the animals envied her, especially Monkey who was crafty and decisive. He wanted to be like Zebra, able to trot and gallop freely on the grassy, flat horizon.
One day Monkey said to Cheetah, “We should make Zebra just like us so she is not too proud of herself. Let’s make her normal.”
“I would be delighted to do something like that, “Cheetah replied to Monkey.” So they decided to invite Zebra to a race in which the loser would have to jump in the black lake. The black lake is a lake that no animal ever drinks from because they are afraid that it will poison them. Since no one has ever jumped in it or even touched the water, no one knows what would happen to them if they did. So the animals kept making up predictions of what would happen to them if they did!
When Zebra agreed to this challenge, Monkey and Cheetah were delighted because they were sure to win: this race was a running race! The contestants would need to race once around the lake and return to where they started.
When the day of the race finally arrived, they lined up on the edge of the lake. It was an intense race, but of course Cheetah won. Zebra was not surprised because when she saw that Monkey and Cheetah were working together. She knew that Monkey had tricked her. Instead of walking over to Monkey and scolding him, she humbly shuffled over to the water’s edge and gazed at the glossy water. The water lapped at the sides of the lake as if it was trying to get a taste of the grass and mud. Monkey was delighted to watch Zebra jump into the water. All of the animals anticipated in curiosity of what would happen. But before Zebra knew it, she was pushed in the water by some strange animal. SPLASH!
All of the animals gasped when they saw Monkey standing there with fire in his eyes looking into the black water. He was the one who had pushed her! After what seemed like hours had passed, a black head finally appeared. Zebra was no longer a dazzling white creature but now black water dripped from her sides. The animals were relieved when they realized that it was not them who had to be covered in this thick, black liquid but instead someone else.
Zebra plodded out of the water. As the water slowly rolled off her body, her white fur started to come back as stripes. Slowly, but gradually, the black started to come off her white fur but there were still some black stripes on her. She glanced at her body, astonished but amused at the lines that started forming on her body. Soon, almost half of the black had come off and the rest had soaked into her fur.
“Ooo! Ahhh!” The animals said, amused at the black and white figure before them.
“I would love it if I were to have stripes on my back!” Tiger said and he waded in. When he came out, the same thing happened. Slowly, he also had black and orange stripes on his body.
Monkey watched them in shame as he realized that his plan had created more beauty in Zebra. He noticed that what he had done was something he shouldn’t do again in the future or he would just make a fool of himself.