Mum brought me toast and cups of tea, while I was lying in bed. I wasn’t rostered on at work, because I was still supposed to be in Sumatra. After her third trip to feed me, she sat down on the end of the bed, smoothing her hand over the quilt. It’s patchwork, she sewed it herself. I couldn’t help but manage a weak smile, because I was grateful to be so loved, and it reminded me of back when I was a little girl.
“Thank you,” I told her.
My throat was tightening with the guilt that she was looking after me.
“I’m worried about Nanek,” I admitted, although my chest didn’t loosen. “I mean, I know that she has our family with her, and she has Mohammed who helps out with the sanctuary--.”
I tried to relax back into the pillows.
“So what are we doing to do?”
The question hung in the air. Mum stroked her fingers through my hair.
“I would love for Ibu to come here to visit, or to go over there,” she confessed.
Really I wanted to ask why she hadn’t, but I didn’t, because it would have seemed like an accusation. I wondered if there was more than I don’t know, that I should.
“When I was flying home, I met this man.”
It was changing the subject, blatantly, but it made me feel slightly more comfortable, and less like I was about to cry. Predictably, Mum’s eyes bulged. I laughed, on cue.
“Not like that,” I corrected.
I set down my cup of tea on my bedside chest of drawers. Mum shifted it to ensure that there was a coaster underneath, so that it wouldn’t stain the wood.
“He was sitting next to me on the plane and he talked to me, he calmed me down. His name is Sam. He works at Taronga Zoo, he gave me his business card.”
My eyes flicked towards my bags. They remain in the corner of the room, not yet unpacked.
“He did tell me that he would help Nanek with the animals, if he could, but I don’t know what he’d do.”
“We’re worried about Ibu and she’s worried about the animals, understandably,” Mum outlined, “but if you trust this man, maybe he could help both.”
“I do hope so,” I responded. “When did you last speak to Nanek?”
“Last night, but I’ll call again when it’s a reasonable hour over there.”
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.