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Invitation

“I’ve invited Sloane on the camping trip.”


I nodded. While I was trying to seem as cool as possible, I think that I was trying too hard. My fear of discomfort must have been written all over my face. I fiddled with Kakek’s cross on the chain around my neck, thoughts rushing through my mind.


“Does that bother you?”


“No,” I answered, wondering why we would be having this conversation at all. “Why would that bother me? Is she even able to come?”


“Yeah, she’s going to come.”


“Nice,” I replied, then we got back to work.


I would be on the service desk, which provided me with a little bit of peace and quiet. My tasks were the usual throughout the morning. I processed refunds and tried not to grimace when I sold the occasional packet of cigarettes. When 11am rolled around, I thought about the ungulate TAG meeting, which would have been happening at about the same time. It’s not a group I’m involved with. To distract myself I ended up watching Maryam, when I wasn’t distracted by customers. It hadn’t been that long ago that Sloane was the heavily pregnant one. When I returned to the staffroom at the end of the day, I needed to flick the light on because nobody else seemed to be around. To my surprise, Maryam was in fact sitting at the table.


“Are you alright?”


“Yeah.”


She stood, slowly.


“You were just sitting in the dark.”


“It’s nice, it’s cooling.”


“Right.”


“I’m in my third trimester,” Maryam mentioned, adjusting the chain around her neck in a gesture I related to. “By this stage, you kind of can’t breathe the whole time. I suppose that’s all of parenthood, really.”


“Yeah.”


Maryam rubbed the top of her baby bump.


“Apparently his feet are up here. At least, they feel like they are, even if they aren’t yet.”


“Is that a good thing?”


Maryam flashed a cheeky grin.


“It is if I want him to be a footballer, if I suppose.”


I returned home from work. Mum and Dad were putting the finishing touches on the exhibits, completely built, but lacking animals or the permission to house them. We distributed pine bark mulch across the floor of the tarsier exhibits. Once it was time to return home, it was lightly raining. I was eager to get back inside the house. Mum stroked her fingers through my slightly damp hair. I offered her a weak smile of thanks as she passed a cup of tea into my hands. The steam rose into my face, daring me to take a sip.


 

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.


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