Dawn

Updated: Mar 7

I’d not fallen asleep before midnight. Wordle time! I guessed HURTS.


🟨⬜🟨🟨⬜


Ah, three golden tiles isn’t that bad, but I have to figure out where those letters really go. I decided instead to start with the R and guessed RIGHT.


🟨⬜⬜🟨🟨


Well, that was frustrating. I needed to figure out the vowels. My third guess was OTHER.


🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩


I hadn’t been expecting that. Finally, I got to sleep. Having stayed up so late last night, I snoozed my alarm the first time, and thus got ready for work in an awful hurry.


“Do you want me to drive you?” Mum offered.


“Yes,” I accepted, a little breathlessly. “That would be lovely.”


As much as I would have been capable of driving, I appreciated the chance to talk. We haven’t really talked about what will happen next.


“I’m glad that you spent the night with Luke last night.”


I laughed at her accidental double entendre.


“Jumilah, you know what I mean,” Mum retorted, with her own giggles.


“I do. It was lovely.”


When we arrived at work, I leaned across and kissed her on the cheek, then got out of the car. I slipped in through the staff entrance. The new ID cards were on the table, so I collected mine and got to work on the checkout for the first half of the day. I was under the pump, as we were short-staffed and Frank didn’t call in reinforcements. Neither Maryam nor Ricky was working today. I’d never texted her back.


I’m so sorry. Looking forward to celebrating you both and your love at some stage!


I decided to call Tallulah, to take a moment to have a breath.


“What did you get up to after Luke and I left?”


“Well, we went to a bar in Salamanca, that’s where the players kicked on after security kicked them out of the changerooms.”


“That sounds lovely.”


“It really was. Corinne introduced me to a few of the players, I got to meet Kyle Maher.”


“That’s impressive.”


“Tell me about it.”


“How are you feeling about starting uni tomorrow?”


“I’m excited, I’m looking forward to it. We’ll have to catch up tomorrow afternoon so that I can tell you all about it.”


“Sure thing. Listen, I’ve got to go, I’m sorry, I’ve got to get back to work.”


We ended the call and I returned to the checkout. After a little while, I could hear an alarm from across the store, but only faintly. It wasn’t really bothering me as I continued to scan groceries. All of a sudden the alarm blared, frightening the life out of me.


“Alright,” I murmured under my breath. “We need to evacuate.”


I’d done this before, not so long ago. I made sure that the tills were secured.


“I’m sorry, we need to evacuate. You’ll have to leave your trolleys.”


I could feel my heartrate soaring as I tried to guide shoppers out of the store, no matter how calm I might have looked on the outside. On my way to the evacuation area, I dropped to the ground. My chest felt like it was filled with concrete. I inched back over the vinyl floor. Finally I took a breath, my responsibilities flooding into me as guilt. I burst to my feet and staggered my way out of the mall, not able to smell any smoke. Hopefully there wasn’t a fire. The firefighters arrived and passed through into the mall.


“That’s another thousand dollars down the drain.”


After a while, the firefighters departed the mall. There didn’t seem to have been an actual fire. Lucy came and sat down beside me.


“Turns out that it’s the stuff they’re using to fumigate the entrance,” Lucy explained, waving her hands around. “That’s what keeps setting the fire alarm off.”


“So we’re safe to go back inside?”


“Yes, thankfully.”


As the shoppers started to file back inside, I noticed a little girl.


“Hi, are you alright?”


The music playing in the shopping centre started up again.


“My name is Jumilah. What’s your name?”


“Sunita.” She was sobbing so hard, she could barely speak.


“Which grownups were you here with, Sunita? It’s alright.”


I noticed that she’d grazed her knee.


“My mum. I fell over when I was looking for her, after the alarm went off.”


“Alright. Well, come with me, and we’ll find your mum.”


I reached out and took Sunita’s hand. We walked through the front entrance of the mall. I knew the procedure – take the lost child to the desk and they’ll make an announcement. Of course, that’s the procedure at Woolworths, but I thought that was still what I needed to do.


“Hey, Kevin,” I greeted, wishing it was anyone else. “This is Sunita, she’s lost her mother in the evacuation.”


“Sunita, Sunita!”


I spun around at the sound of a woman’s panicked voice.


“Mummy!”


Sunita dropped my hand and ran for her mother. She scooped her up into her arms.


“Thank you for finding her. When that alarm went off, I didn’t know where she went.”


“It’s alright, it’s our pleasure. Have a good day, Sunita.”


I got back to work, feeling relieved. The customers were a little crankier than usual thanks to the evacuation.


“Where are my prawns?” a tall man demanded, pushing through.


“I’m sorry.”


“I had prawns in my trolley. We had your evacuation--.”


I winced at his swearing, as he gesticulated towards his trolley.


“I’m sorry. If you go to the deli--.”


He started swearing again.


“If you go to the deli, you can get some more prawns and bring them over and pay for them here. I’m very sorry for the inconvenience.”


I’d never been more grateful to return to the staffroom at the end of the day. I smiled towards Lucy, also packing up.


“Do you reckon that we could organise some sort of flowers or something for Sloane?” Lucy suggested.


“That would be a lovely idea.”


“Alright, I’ll organise it.”


“Thanks,” I replied, as I headed towards the door. “See you later.”


Dad picked me up after work, turning down the radio when I got in the car.


“Thanks for coming to pick me up.” I closed the door behind me, dropping my bag between my feet and fastening my seatbelt across my chest, as he pulled away from the carpark in the direction of home.


“No problems. Your mother’s cooking dinner.”


When we arrived home, I strolled into the kitchen and kissed Mum’s shoulder.


“This won’t be ready straight away,” she noted. “Go and have a shower and then it will be all ready.”


“Alright, thanks Mum.” I pressed a kiss to her shoulder, then ambled off to the bathroom.


I had a shower and got changed into my pyjamas, then came out to have dinner.


“How was work?” Mum asked me, as we put together tacos at the kitchen table.


“Very busy. We were short-staffed because we were missing both Patrick and Sloane.”


“How’s she going?”


“Alright, apparently, but I haven’t heard from Patrick today. He’s got his hands full, it’s fine.”


I took a sip of water.


“We had another evacuation, too.”


“Was everything alright?”


“Yeah. Turns out what they’re doing to get rid of wasps near the entrance keeps setting the alarms off.”


“At least it’s not a real fire.”


After dinner, I helped Mum fold the washing.


“Have you thought about what you might like to wear for your birthday party?”


“Not really, to be perfectly honest.”


“Well, I could make you a dress.”


“That would be lovely, thank you, Mum.”


After we’d finished folding the washing, we sat down to watch TV. I’ve never really been one for reality TV, other than to know enough than to keep up with the staffroom chatter. Before bed I texted Patrick, saying that I hoped he’s OK, and Sloane and the baby are OK. I still couldn’t sleep, so I played Wordle. I chose HUTAN as my first answer.


⬜⬜🟨🟩⬜


I placed T in the last position. My guess was RALAT.


🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩


Ironically, given that the word means ‘error’, that was the answer. I felt satisfied to guess in two, so I put my phone down and nodded off.


 

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.


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