I was still awake at midnight, when a call came through from Nanek. My heart thumped within my chest, but I could hear excitement in her voice. Nanek told me that she and Mohammed had been in the house, when they saw a tiger roaming in the forest. I wished her a happy new year, with a smile on my lips. After we’d hung up, I found that I’d been added to a group chat. Lucy had started it, called it ‘Sorell Woolwordleths’, and then posted her score from the just-released puzzle.
I tried it for myself, typing out TIGER as the first word. Pressing enter, the tiles turned over.
It would have been naughty of me to consult the group chat again, but I suspected that Lucy and I might have chosen the same start word. Knowing there was an E elsewhere in the word, I chose TENSE as my second guess, to give myself two bites at the cherry.
Right. What other word was spelled T—SE? It couldn’t be THESE. I knew that there wasn’t another E. Instead, I went with THOSE.
Got it in three, and felt like a genius, so happily copied my squares and pasted them into the chat. It’s all fun and games when you’re winning.
Oh my goodness that was hard; Patrick messaged.
He posted his own results.
I think that you still did pretty well; I responded.
Breathing out, I put my phone down and was finally able to drift off to sleep.
Once I woke up in the morning, I got out of bed, because I knew that I wouldn’t be going back to sleep. I can sleep for a little while, but once I’m awake, I’m awake. I got up and got dressed, heading off to put in a day’s work. Somehow, I got through an eight-hour shift, and before I knew it I was finished for the day, and ran into Sloane in the staffroom, as she was leaving work at the same time. I held the back door ajar for her.
We hadn’t had the time to properly chat since her pregnancy had been outed while I’d been away. I was about to ask Sloane a question when I heard a loud noise and suddenly found myself crouched on the stairs.
“Jumilah, are you alright? It was just a car backfiring.”
Mum picked me up from work. Sloane must have called her, concerned about me cycling in my clearly distressed and panicked state. I closed my eyes while sitting in the passenger seat.
“It’s alright,” Mum promised.
We arrived home. My bike would have still been at work. That’s a problem for another day, although I’m not working tomorrow so I won’t have to worry about getting back to Sorell in the morning. I felt exhausted, even though all I’d done was go to work and come home.
“Would you like me to run you a bath, Jumilah?” Mum offered.
“That would be lovely, thank you.”
Mum nodded her head, then approached me so that she could kiss me on the forehead. She then left me in the kitchen, so that she could go to the bathroom and run the bath for me. I got myself something to eat, then had a bath. The water was a little bit too hot, but I wouldn’t have told Mum, because I was grateful that she would have left work early for me. I stayed in the bath for fifteen minutes or so, then got out and changed into pyjamas. Mum had started to cook dinner, which I was already looking forward to stuffing my face with. I needed to call the phone number on the leaflet to apply to be a wildlife carer, although I felt anxious about making the phone call, like a typical Generation Z. Ultimately, I decided to call on the home phone, because it made me feel more adult – not that I’m an adult just yet. I had survived one phone call, the hardest of all, to make my statement. If I could do that, I could ring Carol. My eyes darted between the photo on my mobile phone, and the landline, while I pressed the numbers. I pushed the green phone button, then raised the phone to my ear. Carol answered quickly.
“Hi, Carol, I’m Jumilah, I saw your leaflet at Sorell shops looking for wildlife carers, I was wondering if I could apply.”
“Yes, I’m having an information session tomorrow, actually. I’ll text you the address if you’d like to come.”
“That would be great, thank you.”
I told Carol my number. I could hear the engaged signal.
“I’m sorry, I’m just getting another phone call. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“See you then, Jumilah.”
We ended the call. As expected, the phone started ringing, so I answered it again. Nanek greeted me, sounding slightly apprehensive. My heart started beating faster than ever before. Ringing Carol had been nothing. Nanek told me that Mohammed had alerted the police about the tiger they’d seen. A plan has been hatched, to catch the poachers who killed Kakek once and for all – but that will involve luring them to the sanctuary.
Jumilah Fioray is a recent high school graduate from lutruwita, Tasmania. Her parents, Catherine and Adriano Fioray, met at the University of Melbourne in the 1990s and returned to Hobart after finishing their degrees, where they raised their daughter and worked in agriculture. Jumilah's passion for conservation reflects her grandparents' work running a sanctuary in Sumatra.
Abbey Sim is the founder of Huldah Media. She is a creative writing, law and theology student who lives on the lands of the Dharug people in Sydney, Australia. Abbey has long had a passion for the weird and the wonderful of stories, sport and zoo animals. 'From the Wild' is her first anthology.