Patrick and I finished our shifts around the same time. We packed up in the staffroom, ready to head off.
“Are you doing anything tonight?” Patrick asked.
“Yeah, actually, I’m sorry, I’ve got to get home,” I answered. “We’re having a memorial service, of sorts, for my grandmother. Mum and Dad missed the funeral because it was over in Sumatra, so we’re having a memorial for him to keep on our property.”
“Ah, nice.” Patrick furrowed his brow. “Well, not nice, but you know.”
I nodded my head.
“Were you doing something tonight?” I asked, sounding a little dazed.
We reached the back door, which he opened and held ajar for me to pass through.
“Yeah, I’ve got a band gig.”
“I didn’t know you were in a band.”
“Well, you learn something new every day,” Patrick remarked. “It’s a new thing. Tonight’s our first gig, actually.”
“Well, I’m sorry to miss it.”
“Don’t be. You’ve got more important things to do. You can come to the next one.”
We shifted onto the landing at the top of the stairs, allowing the door to close behind us.
“Thanks, I would like to,” I agreed, before we clanged down the stairs. “I hope that it goes well.”
“Are you ready?”
“Yes.” I nodded my head and followed Mum out of my room.
She told me that she loved me, and a small, sad smile came onto my lips. We walked through the house, where Nanek ushered all of us outside, under a cloudy sky. She said that she’d chosen a place. As the wind blew, we arrived. Nanek urged for us all to sit down, in something of a circle. We did so, and she closed her eyes. I did the same, concentrating intensely on feeling the wild against my skin. Amongst the whistling, I listened for Kakek’s voice, for his guidance in this moment, but I only felt my chest tighten. I let out a short, sharp breath, then inhaled again, before my eyes opened when Mum let out a loud sob. While she said a prayer, I held her close, finishing her words when she could no longer speak. I listened to Mum’s shaky breaths, like she could control the wind. Nanek finished with another prayer, as Dad pressed a cross into the grass.
“Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
Dad gently tapped on the top of it with a hammer. It sounded like a chant, a call to prayer. We stayed out in the grass for a while, until it started to rain. I tipped my face back into the sky, closing my eyes, listening to the sound of Kakek’s voice, in my mind. I’m not sure how long it was, before Dad tapped me on the shoulder to lead us back inside, the rain getting quite heavy.
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.