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Haunted

The Head of Carnivores appointment has been announced. This morning that was what I’d heard through the grapevine, thanks to a message from Isobel.


Head of Carnies announced ☹


I was running out the door of the Roberts’ place, with Nikki’s car waiting.


“Good morning,” she greeted me as I got into the passenger side.


“Hi,” I replied, distracted.


“Are you alright?”


“They’ve announced the new Head of Carnivores at Adelaide Zoo, apparently.”


“Right.”


There was a pause.


“I take it that it’s not Josh Donovan.”


“Well, I don’t think so, because Isobel doesn’t seem happy about it.”


I tried ringing, although I didn’t receive an answer.


“Surely, it’ll be Monica. She has experience as Head of Carnivores. I worked with her for a little while at Melbourne Zoo and she’s great.”


Nikki smirked.


“Well, maybe it’s not.” She flicked on her blinker. “If it was, we would be able to hear Reuben from here.”


“I mean, I know he’d hate to lose a good member of his team--.”


“But, deep down, he knows Monica is very qualified. She was the best candidate.”


I agreed. We arrived at the sanctuary, where Pearl was already at the wildlife hospital.


“If it’s alright, we’d like to conduct the procedure tomorrow, for Alinta.”


I could feel my phone buzzing, on a rare occasion it had stayed in my pocket. Nothing could be urgent, at least not in the circumstances. She agreed, then turned to me.


“Look, go and get yourself a cup of coffee.” Nikki sighed. “It’s always good to breathe out.”


“Thank you.”


Taking her instructions, I prepared myself a brew. I sat down at the table in the staffroom, with my cup of coffee warming my hands. At the other end, Margie sipped her tea.


“Having a good day, Jumilah?” she checked.


“Yes, thank you.”


It was an instinctive response. Margie got up from the table, heading over to the sink. She rinsed her cup, then dried it out and placed it back in the cupboard. Glancing towards the clock, I thought that the ungulate TAG meeting would have been going on, not that it concerned me. Would Acarda Zoo hold ungulates in the future? Likely, but it wouldn’t be soon. Getting involved with another TAG was inadvisable, at a time when I was barely keeping up with the groups I needed to be monitoring and contributing to, in order to prepare for the development of our initial, small collection. Bachelor giraffes and zebras would routinely be surplus. I worked the rest of the day, trying to focus on the task at hand. Following knock-off time, Nikki dropped me home to the Roberts’ farm, although the house was empty when I entered. The others must have been out working on the property, so I figured it would be good to return Isobel’s call. Inside the house felt a little haunted, even though I was shielded from interference by the birdsong. There was a cool breeze which ruffled my hair as I stepped out onto the veranda, as Isobel answered.


“Sorry that I couldn’t speak this morning.”


“That’s alright.”


I sat down, instinctively fiddling with Kakek’s cross.


“I’m so sorry about Joel not getting the job.”


“Thanks, Jumilah,” Isobel responded. “I think, deep down, I knew this would happen, and I don’t begrudge Monica, especially because you worked with her.”


“Oh, it’s not like--.”


“I don’t want him to give up his career for me, I’ve never expected him to give up his career for me.”


Isobel sighed heavily. I didn’t really know what to tell her. It isn’t like this sort of thing is within my experience.


“It’s selfish of me to tell him that he has to move, I don’t think I could move to Perth, at least not now.”


There was a moment of silence. I didn’t want to pry any further as to why.


“But that’s alright. We’ll figure something out. There will be other jobs.”


When the Roberts returned to the house, Isobel and I ended our call. I helped Mrs Roberts prepare dinner. Following our meal, I lay down in bed, feeling exhausted and unable to sleep. It won’t be too long until I will be out of here and off to my final stint of work experience at Werribee. I prayed, for Isobel and for Joel, for Monica and for Reuben. By then I’d worn myself out enough, that I was finally able to drift off to sleep.


 

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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