Every day, I see the warriors head out at sunhigh. They come back to camp with joyous smiles on their faces and plump squirrels clasped in their jaws.
I wonder what it's like... outside of the thorny barrier that traps me inside this wreck of a nursery.
When Father comes back from patrol, it's my daily must-do to ask him what he sees. He says that I'll find out when I'm six moons old. But I have such a long time to go... two moons! It's unbearable.
I wonder what it's like... outside with the birds that I hear in the early morning, chirping their song of jubilant freedom.
Mother says it's dangerous when I press her about her warrior days. She claims that there are bloodthirsty badgers and deadly snakes. Not to mention fatal deathberries. Well, Mother, I don't think so. I'm tough enough.
I wonder what it's like... outside, climbing oak trees to embrace the sky.
My best friend Quailpaw tells me that being an apprentice is hard. Quailpaw is tired of fighting and hunting and patrolling. She says she wishes that she was a kit. Why would anyone want to be a kit? That forever remains a mystery to me.
I wonder what it's like... outside, training, learning how to use your claws and how to stalk fat rabbits.
Leafkit proclaims he wants to be a medicine cat. I think it's a terrible idea. Who wants to be stuck in a stuffy den with some grumpy lunatic and stinky herbs that suffocate anyone who dares to take a whiff? Not me, that's for sure. Leafkit definitely has bees in his brain.
I wonder what it's like outside, racing in the meadows with soft, vibrant green grass underpaw.
Curiosity is eating at me slowly on the inside. I'm sick of being confined to the nursery anymore. I finally decide to risk it.
I don't think there are any risks anyway, so good riddance.
In the night's darkness, with a touch of faint moonlight, I place my paws carefully in front of each other in a painfully slow rhythm.
One, two... one, two... one, two... one, two...
I somehow make it to the entrance without anyone waking up to the racket I'm making. I slip into the shadows and fade into the night.
It takes a while for my bright amber eyes to adjust to the blackness surrounding me. I blink several times, and I set out.
Navigating the forest is a bit harder than I expected. It's probably because of the darkness. Every step I take gets me tangled with a vine or gets me tripped on a thick root. For StarClan's sake, couldn't this be easier?
After what seems like a lifetime of endless torture, I drag myself out of the forest and emerge into a tranquil clearing. I fall with exhaustion, and it welcomes me as I sink contentedly into the gentle bed of soft grass. Not even Mother's nest is this comfortable.
As I stare up into the starlit sky, I notice that the night is alive. The shadows of soaring owls flicker over my head, and symphonies of crickets perform lively music.
Suddenly, a shadow larger than any owl's blots out the stars like ink on paper. I freeze. What is going on?
Without warning, claws flash through the moonlight and rip into my throat before I can screech for help. The hulking figure sweeps away and I am left to die, with no one to call to.
Now I know, Mother. It isn't safe. It's not safe, and it never will be. I'm sorry.
Quailpaw, I'm sorry for leaving you alone. This is my fault.
You were right, Father. Leave the exploring and fun to the apprentices.
Leafkit, maybe you actually do have some sense. At least being stuck in a den usually means that you won't get attacked by a stupid badger.
This is the price.