“You need to decide when you’re going to open,” Reuben insisted to me, over the phone. “Otherwise, you’ll never open.”
“Settle down,” I retorted, now that I felt more comfortable speaking to him like that. “We needed to make sure that the animals wouldn’t, you know, die first, before we opened.”
Reuben didn’t reply straight away.
“Alright, fair enough,” he finally spoke up. “The animals haven’t died, have they?”
“No,” I confirmed. “They haven’t died. That is a good thing, of course.”
“But, Jumilah,” Reuben interjected, “why did you think they would die?”
“Really, Reuben?” I questioned. “I can’t believe that you’re the one saying that to me. You’re always the one who tells me that anything can happen and animals can die.”
“That is true,” Reuben conceded, somehow remaining calm. “In this case, though, I would like you to trust the team at Taronga.”
I sighed softly and ran my fingers through my hair.
“Whatever, Reuben,” I eventually replied, “and I don’t mean that badly.”
“I don’t take it badly,” Reuben assured.
“Thank you,” I responded.
I felt a little relieved that Reuben was still being kind to me, despite the worries that I had.
“While I trust the team at Taronga, it doesn’t mean that I worry about the animals dying here,” I explained. “Animals can die at any time and I can take that personally, even though you would say I shouldn’t.”
Over the phone, I could hear Reuben tutting.
“You’re weird,” he commented, “but that’s why you’re good.”
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.