The sky was a dark and threatening shade of grey when I returned home by bicycle from my shift at the supermarket. Staring upwards on the front veranda, I murmured a silent prayer of thanks that I’d been able to get home before the rain came.
“Jumilah!” Mum called out. “I was just about to come and get you, because a storm’s meant to come in this afternoon, thank goodness you’re home”.
Leaving my bicycle chained up underneath the front awning, Mum ushered me inside as the first heavy raindrops began falling.
“Today, I earned two hundred and forty-four dollars and forty-eight cents before tax,” I announced proudly.
“Good girl,” Mum responded, “I’m proud of you for working on a public holiday, especially now."
“You know, I don’t mind,” I told her. “I don’t really do anything that warrants me needing the first day of a new year off and, besides, I get paid more than double an hour.”
“Still, I’m proud of you,” Mum insisted. “You didn’t have to go back to work early, you know.”
“It’s good to keep busy.”
The din of the rain against the roof permeated any potential, awkward silence. I didn’t want to elaborate on what I’d said.
“Have you heard from Nanek at all today?” I asked instead.
Mum seemed a little frustrated, as we moved into the kitchen.
“Would you like a cup of tea?”
Mum flicked the kettle on and fetched two mugs from the cupboard, mine and hers, along with the tea strainers, which had been a Christmas gift.
“Nanek doesn’t want me to go over to her.”
“Would you like to?”
Mum placed a strainer each into the mugs, then heaped a spoon of tea into each of them. I was sure that the flavour would be intense. After a day at work, that’s something I was perfectly happy with.
“Of course I would, Jumilah, but I know that we have to take everyone’s safety into consideration.”
The kettle boiled. Mum prepared the tea. I sensed that there was more that she wasn’t telling me, although the truth would come out eventually.
“These poachers, they’ve been having problems with them for a while. Of course this was the time that things got really serious. I want Ibu to come here, to get away from it, but I can’t asked that of her.”
Mum pressed the tea into my hands. There are no easy answers.
“We’re worried about her and she’s worried about the animals.”
“Exactly,” Mum confirmed. “It’s noble, but I can’t--.”
Her voice faltered, and she didn’t have to finish the sentence.
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.