Updated: Feb 23, 2022
I still feel pretty anxious about Nanek. This morning it was raining heavily when I woke up and, being Saturday, Dad offered to drive me to work. I felt on edge, so I texted Patrick even though I expected to see him at work.
I’m on my way to work. Hope you’re ok. 💛
I could tell that Dad noticed my distress.
“Jumilah, I remember being young. People say it’s the best time of your life, but it’s hard. I remember what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone and--.”
My phone beeped, which distracted me from anything else Dad said. I checked the notification, but it wasn’t Patrick. Instead, Charlotte from Perth Zoo had sent me a video of the macaque troop from Nanek’s sanctuary.
Thought you might like an update. Will miss these special guys when they move.
I beamed as I watched the video.
“The macaques will be in Launceston from Tuesday, maybe we could go and visit.”
“That would be great, Jumilah.”
Dad pulled up in the carpark outside the mall, as close as he could to the staff entrance.
“Thanks for driving me.” I pecked him on the cheek, then got out of the car.
I scurried across to the door and slipped into the staffroom.
“Good morning,” I greeted Patrick, sounding panicked.
He flipped over the newspaper. Patrick burst to his feet, walked over and hugged me. He kissed me on the cheek as we parted.
“I got your message, but I thought that I would just talk to you in person. I’m sorry about what happened last night. I got quite riled up.”
Patrick’s arms were loosely slung around my neck.
“I do really care about Sloane, and she’s pregnant with my child, so I want her to be safe either way.”
“Do you think she’s not--?”
My head snapped to look over my shoulder as I heard the door to the staffroom open.
“Sorry, lovebirds,” Lucy apologised, wearing her engagement ring on the hand which held the doorknob. “Can you come and help us with a delivery?”
I nodded my head, gently pushing Patrick’s arms off. As we departed the staffroom, he leaned over to whisper in my ear.
“Also, I’m definitely able to come to your birthday. Your mum made a beautiful invitation.”
“Thank you. I haven’t actually seen it yet.”
“I’ll have to show you. We’ll get time later.”
Patrick and I followed Maryam to the loading dock. I wanted the chance to talk with Sloane after what happened last night. This, however, wasn’t the forum, as we unpacked chocolate cakes and stored them in the freezer. Once we were finished, I felt restless at the checkout, going through the motions of small talk. An elderly woman approached with a crocheted shopping bag.
“Code blue in Aisle Five. Defib to Aisle Five.” I froze.
Rushing from the checkout, I knew exactly where the defib is located. I burst open the wall unit. Rushing the defibrillator to Aisle Five, a man was on the floor, shirt burst open. I dropped and handed the defibrillator over to Chris, while Lucy did compressions. The numbers thudded through my mind as she counted them out. I leaned back, shaking, and it was Patrick’s arm which caught me. The ambulance arrived and took the shopper away. Lucy, Chris and I retreated to the staffroom, upon Ricky’s urging, and he made us tea. We sat there, staring at our cups of tea. Nobody spoke, nor know what to say. I could feel my heart within my chest, almost vibrating as it was beating so fast, reminding me that I was alive. Finally, the phone rang, and we startled. Lucy eventually answered, nodding her head dutifully as she listened, then hung up the phone and addressed us.
“That was the man’s daughter. He just called to say thank you. They’ve all had a bit of a fright, but he’s going to make a full recovery.”
“That’s good news,” I gushed, as my chest tightened. “I’m really pleased to hear that. You were amazing, really, really amazing.”
They got back to work. I stayed, but hated myself for it. The tighter my chest got, the more that I wanted to be anywhere but the staffroom at work, on my own with a cup of tea going cold. I startled when the door to the staffroom opened. My eyes darted up and I noticed Patrick, poking his head in and smiling with concern. He walked in, carefully and slowly, shutting the door gently behind him.
“Are you alright?” Patrick checked, touching his hand to my upper arm.
I nodded my head quickly, even though my eyes were welling with tears.
“Oh, Jumilah. Would you like a hug?”
I felt like I needed to pull away, to not give in, but I was too fragile to resist. Nodding slowly, Patrick embraced me.
“Thank you,” I squeaked out.
“It’s alright,” Patrick reassured me. “You’ll be alright.”
I cried against his shirt, my own chest feeling tight.
“I’m sorry,” I apologised, when I could pull myself together. “I really should get back to work.”
“Take your time.”
“Thanks, Patrick. I’ll be fine.”
“Well, Sloane and I are breaking done some boxes, if you’d like to come and help.”
“Sure,” I agreed, rinsing my cup, before following him to the staffroom out the back door.
Sloane, Patrick and I broke up cardboard boxes for recycling.
“Have you been watching much of the Winter Olympics?” I asked, to make conversation.
“Not much,” I admitted. “Listen, I know this isn’t ideal, but there’s something I want to go to you two about--.”
“Are you alright?” Patrick checked.
“I just feel a little--.” Sloane swayed, and Patrick reached out to catch her. “Light-headed.”
“You’ll be alright, you’ll be OK, Sloane.”
“Come on, let me find somewhere you for you to sit down.”
Sloane passed out in his arms. Patrick turned to me with fear in his eyes.
“Could you please call an ambulance?”
I nodded quickly, getting my phone out of my bag and making that call.
“Yes. She’s pregnant.”
“Come on, Sloane, come on, Sloane, squeeze my hand,” Patrick begged.
I could tell that she was still breathing, her chest rising and falling under her green buttoned shirt. Especially considering it was their second visit today, the ambulance didn’t take long to arrive. By that point Sloane had come to and was able to speak, a little bit.
“Do you mind if I come with you?” Patrick requested. “I’m the father of the baby.”
The paramedics allowed him, and the two of us shadowed the trolley as Sloane was wheeled away from the recycling bin. I stood out the back and watched the ambulance leave.
“Come on,” Kevin urged. “Let’s get back to work.”
I lingered for a moment, before doing what I was told. The wind had been taken out of our sails and a sombre atmosphere blanketed the store. I got back to work for the rest of the afternoon. When I returned to the staffroom, I’d forgotten about Tallulah’s offer to go to the cricket. Two text messages on the lock screen of my phone quickly reminded me of what we’d previously discussed, first from Tallulah: Hey are you still planning on coming to the cricket tonight?
Another from Luke suggested that we go together. After a stressful day, I didn’t necessarily feel like going out. Nonetheless, because Luke had offered to pick me up from work, I said yes with gladness, then called Mum.
“Do you need us to come and get you now?”
“Luke’s going to pick me up from work, we’re going to go to the cricket,” I told Mum over the phone, “so I won’t need any dinner tonight.”
“That sounds nice. Are you taking Angus with you?”
“No, he’s at a birthday party sleepover tonight.”
“Have a good time. I’ll see you in the morning if I’m asleep by the time you get home.”
“See you then.”
I ended the call and left work, needing to be anywhere else. Luke picked me up, driving us towards Bellerive. My phone beeped, and I retrieved it from my bag.
We didn’t announce our engagement last night; Maryam texted me. The wind was knocked out of the night a bit after Frank went at Patrick.
I really felt for her, and couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty.
“Still, your first boyfriend is a guy whose last partner is pregnant with his child.”
I looked up from my phone.
“Jumilah, you’re my big cousin. I’m not going to tell you what to do. I like Patrick, he’s a nice guy. It’s cool being in Bushmint Lovechild.”
“I sense that you’re feeling the weight of the drama.”
“Yeah, I am.”
“Maybe I don’t need to make the psychologist appointment after all.”
Luke flicked on his blinker to turn off the road. Just as he was about to take the exit in Mornington, a car swerved in front of us. Thankfully, Luke was able to brake. No harm done, but my heartrate soared.
“Are you alright, Jumilah?”
“Yeah,” I confirmed, but I sounded unconvinced.
I could see the light towers in the distance. They beckoned us towards them, even though they hadn’t yet been turned on.
“Mum reckons that he’ll want to sleep with me.”
“Well, does he?”
“I don’t know. We haven’t spoken about it.”
“Look, I’m a teenage boy, but that doesn’t mean that I know everything about all other teenage boys, but I do know that communication is key to any good relationship.”
Luke found a parking spot in the playground of the primary school near the ground.
“You’re very clever.”
“Thanks, I’ve always reckoned.”
I laughed loudly.
By the time that we arrived at Bellerive, it was still cloudy, but the rain had stopped. While it was cold, I felt less heavy, owing that I just needed to sit at the cricket and relax, enjoying a non-weather-interrupted fixture. Luke and I popped into the café first to say hello to Tallulah.
“I’ll come and find you on the hill once I’m finished my shift,” she promised.
“Catch you then.”
We passed through the turnstiles. There were some players warming up on the field, in preparation for the second innings, bats knocking against balls. The sun was coming out in all of its bright glory, as Luke and I found somewhere to sit on the hill.
“Do you want to go and get some food?”
“Nah, we can wait until the innings starts, the lines will be shorter.”
The players and coaches started packing away the equipment for the warm-up. When the innings started, Luke went off to get us some food. Tasmania were batting in the evening session as the lights came on, chasing 257 to win. Proving himself right, Luke returned with chips shortly after. I slurped down some lemonade to go with the pungent taste of salt. Breathing in the river air, all felt well again. I spotted Tallulah and her workmates strolling over. Once I waved, she spotted me, and they came over and sat down with Luke and I. Tallulah introduced them, running through a list of names – Tammy, Corinne, Travis and George. There was one bloke – he must have been George – sitting just separate from the group, looking a bit sour.
“He’s still pretty upset about Justin Langer.”
I nodded my head.
“What do you think?”
“Well, I haven’t really kept up with what’s happening.”
“That match and that partnership was his entire personality for at least a decade.”
We returned our attention to the match in front of us. The run-rate had slowed down, the Tasmanian batters being tied up by the spinners. As the sun went down and the floodlights took full effect, the temperature dipped even further.
“Did you have a good day at work?”
“Yeah, a bit busy with the game on, but pretty good. You?”
I answered with a dubious expression. Before I could elaborate, my phone rang. I rummaged through my bag and saw that the call was from Patrick. Tallulah saw his name on the screen of my phone, and understood that I’d need my space, even though I hadn’t filled her in any further.
“Hey,” I answered, as I walked off for privacy. “How’s Sloane?”
“They did an ultrasound and blood tests and everything. Sloane was just dehydrated, so they gave her fluids and she’s feeling much better, but they had to give her needles for the baby.”
“She’s only thirteen or fourteen weeks, I’m so sorry to hear that, Patrick.”
“No, she’s eighteen weeks. She’s only a month away from the baby having a fighting chance.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. That’s better.”
Twelve plus two, give or take, didn’t equal eighteen, but I must have remembered something wrong.
“Are you alright? Do you need anything?”
“They’ve said that I can stay overnight at the hospital.”
“Take care, Patrick. Just text or call if you need anything.”
“Of course I will.”
“Thanks for keeping me up to date. Send my regards to Sloane, too. We’re all thinking of you both.”
“Sure, I’m sure that she’ll really appreciate that. We both do.”
As we ended the call, a wicket fell. I walked back to the group and sat down. Kids were running around, playing their own games of cricket. I thought about what Patrick would be like as a father. It will be different, this time. Sloane is going to give the baby up for adoption, but I don’t know if that will be open or closed, whether he’ll have a role in the child’s life.
“When we were in Launceston, Sloane said that she was twelve weeks pregnant, didn’t she?” I asked.
I couldn’t seem to let it go. Tallulah shrugged her shoulders.
“I don’t know. We didn’t talk about that. You’re the one who works with her, I’m really not that close with her.”
“Anyway, what’s happening in the game?”
“Well, Kyle Maher’s still in, but I think we’ve lost too many wickets. Neither of them can really afford to take risks, which is what they’ll need to score at the rate required.”
Matty Hughes launched three fours in a row down the ground. In the next over, Kyle Maher was on strike.
“He’s a very good-looking young man, don’t you reckon?” Tallulah mused.
“Yes,” I agreed, with a sheepish laugh. “I suppose that he is.”
Glancing towards the scoreboard, I noticed that the run rate required had risen to nine an over.
“You start orientation for uni on Monday, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do. I’m really looking forward to it.”
“You’ll have to tell me all about it afterwards.”
“Did you ever follow up those wildlife courses?”
“No, I haven’t. It’s just something that’s fallen off the radar.”
“Is that something that you’d like to pursue?”
“Oh dear,” I lamented, as Matty Hughes’ stumps were skittled.
Dejected, he walked off the field with his head down, bittersweet applause coming from the crowd.
“Yes, I think it is,” I finally answered Tallulah’s question.
It all came down to this – one ball, six runs required. The last pair were in, with Kyle Maher on strike as the Victorian bowler ran in and delivered a low full toss. The sound of the ball off the bat seemed to echo through the ground.
“Oh no,” Tallulah muttered under her breath.
The white ball soared through the dark sky. The shot had more height, however, than length. A fielder wearing navy blue settled, about a metre in front of the rope, as a wave of realisation rippled throughout the crowd. I gasped loudly as the ball burst through the fielder’s hands and landed over the boundary rope for six. We burst to our feet as the crowd roared with glee, Kyle Gray and Jye Maher running down the pitch to wrap each other in an embrace. By the late finish, I was exhausted, but overjoyed. Tallulah accepted an invitation from her new workmates to kick on with the celebrations.
“Thank you for inviting me,” I told her, as we rounded the bottom of the hill. “I should come along more often.”
I was still buzzing as Luke drove me home.
“It’s been great to spend this time with you.”
“We should do it again sometime.”
I agreed, then got out of Luke’s car, creeping quietly into the house.
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.