Photo by Eric Tompkins on Unsplash

by Melissa Llanes Brownlee

The lion died the day the circus arrived. The asphalt of the old airport steamed the hay in its too tiny cage. The trade winds carried a mix of salt and musk and decay from the beach nearby through our little fishing village.

We were so eager to see him perform, top hats and whips, chairs and fiery hoops, under a candy cane striped tent. All the things we’d seen on tv, in movies, in Saturday morning cartoons.

Now, his lonely spirit stalks our sea wall, weaving around the ghostly tiki torch lights of our fake paradise past, his silent roar, echoing in the surf.


Melissa Llanes Brownlee (she/her), a native Hawaiian writer, living in Japan, is in a few literary journals, print and online. She talks story at


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