Victors

Updated: Jul 9

This morning I woke up to a moment of silence, then once again the raucous noise which fills this house. I got out of bed and walked out to the kitchen.


“Would you like some breakfast?”


“Yeah, that would be lovely, if there’s something going.”


“Juliet and Erik are leaving us for the mainland today,” Mum told me. “There’s scrambled eggs on the stove, it should still be hot enough.”


“Thanks.”


I walked over to the stove and scooped myself some scrambled eggs onto a plate.


“All my family are on the mainland,” Juliet explained.


I returned to the table and sat down.


“We need some time with them.”


“That’s totally fair enough.”


Once we’d finished breakfast, we all went our separate ways. I would have had a shower, but Juliet was in the shower instead. Therefore, I just got myself dressed into the clothes which I’d picked for the day – a jumpsuit and lace-up white shoes. When I walked out to the kitchen again, hair brushed too, it was time to bid farewell. Juliet and I hugged goodbye, then she and Erik left with Mum and Dad. Often, I’d work on a Sunday. Today I wasn’t working, because of Maryam’s bridal shower in the afternoon. This gave me a Sunday morning at home, so I figured that I’d take the opportunity to call Reuben. I stood in the kitchen, phone to my ear.


“Turns out that Bill was right. You’re not able to apply for individual membership.”


My heart started to beat faster within my chest, suddenly.


“What you can apply for is being a subscriber to the association. Then, if you’re a subscriber for a year, you can become an individual member.”


“Right.”


“I’m just emailing you the form now.”


“Thank you, Reuben, I do appreciate that.”


I walked over to the computer.


“Will I see you at the TAG meeting tomorrow?”


“Of course.” I paused. “It’s alright for me to come, isn’t it?”


“Have you had any objections?”


“No, I haven’t.”


“It’s fine for you to come, then. I think that it’s good for you to understand how things work. Primates is your main area of interest, isn’t it?”


“Well, it is because of Nanek and Kakek. They mostly cared for primates, and weird and wonderful primates, except for the dholes, of course.”


“Well, it’s good to have you. Fill out that form and send it back, and then you’ll be well on your way.”


“Thanks.”


We ended the call. I sat down at the computer and opened the email. Sure enough, a form was attached. I downloaded it, then loaded it into the PDF editor. As quickly as I could, I filled out the form, gritting my teeth at the cost of being a subscriber. Nobody said this would be a cheap process. I didn’t email it back to Reuben, but rather the email address specified. At least they’d take my money, and I would be one step closer. With that done, I showered and got myself dressed. Somehow, I’d said that I would give Sloane a lift to the bridal shower. I drove around to the address that she’d provided for Frank and Mary’s property to collect her. On the way I thought about Steve Barnett and the help he’d offered to give us, even though we want to open a facility not that far away from his. As I pulled into the driveway, my chest tightened. I parked and my mind raced, uncertain. While deciding whether to get out of the car, Sloane slipped out of the front door. She scurried to my car, as I waved to her.


“Sorry,” Sloane apologised as she slipped into the passenger seat, still braiding her hair.


“It’s alright,” I assured.


I waited until Sloane had fastened her braid and her seatbelt.


“Alright, let’s go.”


I backed out of the driveway.


“Thanks for driving me.”


“No problem.”


“It’s nice to be out of the house,” Sloane mused. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m more than grateful to be there--.”


“But being with the kids is hard work sometimes.”


“Yes,” Sloane agreed.


We arrived at the bridal shower, and I was guiltily glad. There were streamers hung up, covering a brick wall.


“You can’t have a bridal shower with an ugly wall,” Lucy remarked. “Welcome, thank you very much for coming.”


She hugged us both, kissing each of us on the cheek as well. Clearly those bride happy hormones are contagious.


“It’s great to be here.”


“Well, eat, drink, be merry.”


“Thank you.”


Over cucumber sandwiches, I got chatting with Hawa.


“Thank you so much for having us.”


“Oh, you’re welcome,” Hawa replied. “This is what you do for your little sister. Do you have any siblings?”


“No.”


“So, you’re an only child?”


“Yes, I am,” I confirmed, not mentioning the fact that it wouldn’t be true for much longer.


“Well, you’re missing out.”


I tried not to take offence.


“What do you do with yourself, Jumilah?”


“Well, I work with Maryam.”


“Of course,” Hawa replied. “Are you the one trying to open the zoo?”


“Yes.”


“And how is that going?”


“Pretty well,” I answered. “We’ve been able to rezone our land, and now we’ve just got to get the plans together and submitted to the council.”


“Is that the property where you live, too?”


“Yes.”


“And where’s that?” Hawa wanted to know. “Are you in Sorell?”


“Yeah, we live just up the highway.”


Lucy, Amzura and Willow organised for Maryam to start opening her gifts. Eventually, Maryam opened my gift, which included a kit which I’d put together, of little essentials for her wedding day.


“I saw it on TV,” I explained. “You don’t have to use it on the day.”


“It’s lovely, thank you,” Maryam replied. “It’ll be very helpful.”


Once the bridal shower was done, I headed down to Bellerive, arriving about the time that Tallulah was able to knock off work. We sat on the hill together.


“I’m so nervous,” Tallulah admitted. “Is it right that I’m so nervous?”


I breathed out, feeling the tension in the ground.


“Honestly, I don’t blame you.”


The Tasmanian openers came out to bat.


“Do you think that they can win?”


Tallulah took a moment to think.


“I hope so.”


The batter in dark green took guard. A Victorian bowler steamed in and bowled a good-length delivery. The white pill sent the stumps splattering.


“Alright, now I’m not so sure.”


Kyle came out to bat. He took his guard from the umpire, then adopted his batting stance to face the bowling. The bowler ran in, and bowled a good-length delivery, which Kyle misjudged, and it hit him in the box. He dropped to the pitch. The crowd winced. I couldn’t help but look at Tallulah. The physio jogged out, following the twelfth man carrying a drink. As Kyle rocked from side to side on his back, the bowler approached, trying to hide his smirk. Once the physio reached Kyle, he helped him to his feet and handed over a tablet. Painkillers taken, box replaced, and the match was able to resume. Kyle blocked the next delivery. Tallulah nibbled the inside of her lip. Once Kyle edged a four, she finally breathed out.


“Mum’s pregnant,” I divulged, changing the subject.


“That’s fantastic news, Jumilah,” Tallulah gushed. “Wow.”


“That’s the right word for it.”


“Is this not welcome news?”


“It is, it is, of course it is, it’s just a massive shock. I’m eighteen. I’d given up my dreams of a little brother or a sister a very long time ago.”


“At least I knew it was never a possibility.”


“I’m sorry, Tallulah.”


“I’ll have to start knitting, then.”


“Well, don’t start just yet.”


“What, are they considering not keeping the baby?”


“Truth be told, I don’t know what’s happening. I presume they’re keeping the baby.”


“Do you want them to?”


“Yeah, of course I do,” I answered, “but it’s still a bit of a shock to the system. I’ve been an only child for eighteen years. It’s going to be a big adjustment. You’d think the same.”


I smiled, then my expression fell.


“I’m sorry.”


“Don’t worry, I’m absolutely fine.”


“That’s good,” I responded. “I know that’s something we’ve always had in common. I’m still trying not to get too far ahead of myself.”


“Besides, don’t feel too sorry for me. I do have a sister, apparently, in Melbourne and I’m going to meet her, we’re going to meet her, in a few short weeks.”


“Yes, we are,” I confirmed, pulling my knees up to my chin, as I felt a little chilly.


“I’m really looking forward to that,” Tallulah divulged.


In the time that we’d been talking, the Tasmanian batters were digging in, so the Victorians brought back on their fastest bowler.


“So, what do you reckon?” I looked to my left at the sound of a voice that was familiar, but which I couldn’t instantly place. “Will we be toasting at the end of the night?”


Vanessa sat down on the grass next to Tallulah.


“I’m not sure,” she admitted. “It’s nice to see you again.”


“Jye will be a mess if he even needs to think about having to bat. I wouldn’t mention this to him, but I hate how it eats him up, for being half of his job and all.”


Vanessa breathed out and smiled towards us.


“Would either of you ladies like a drink?”


“I’m fine, thank you,” I replied.


“Yeah, a drink would be lovely, thank you,” Tallulah accepted. “I trust your judgment.”


Vanessa stood and walked off again. She returned not long after, sitting down on the hill and handing a drink to Tallulah.


“Thanks. Let me fix you up.”


“No, no need. It’s my shout; it’s been my pleasure to get to know you.”


The ball cracked against the bat. I’m not sure which one flew further. I lost a second of time and then I was staring upwards, sky dark and lights bright, grass of the hill dewy underneath the back of my head.


“Oh my goodness.”


“Jumilah, are you OK?”


“Yeah, yeah,” I assured.


“Did the ball hit you?”


I couldn’t speak straight away. Silence was the only way I could dim the trauma.


“No,” I eventually said, and sat up.


The game went on, a much-needed six runs. We watched, as bat and ball wrestled.


“I’m really anxious,” Tallulah admitted.


“About Kyle, this game or just in general?” I asked.


“The game.”


I glanced towards the scoreboard, which emblazoned the equation – six balls remaining, eighteen runs to win the title, two wickets in hand. We’d been in this position, more or less, before. I glanced around to where Jye sat by the boundary. He was padded up, bat resting against his leg, head buried in his gloved hands.


“I’m really anxious.”


“You just said that.”


Tallulah burst to her feet as the ball flew through the sky. There was nobody down there – they’d only had to run if it plugged, if not it would roll away. Tallulah’s breath hitched. They ran. Kyle was quick coming back for the second, as the fielder tracked the ball down. I knew that my own respiration was becoming more frequent. Kyle would be safe, but his partner wouldn’t be. Stumps splattered; Victorian fielders celebrated. I looked at Vanessa, who was looking at Jye, the loneliest person on the whole ground.


“Oh, my goodness.” Her nails were in her mouth. “Goodness, goodness, goodness.”


Jye walked out to bat. He seemed almost bow-legged, shoulders shaking. Thankfully Jye would be at the non-striker’s end. Vanessa played with her engagement ring. The bowler bowled; Kyle nicked the ball away.


Kids rushed closer to the fence. I found myself rocking forward. One of the fielders in dark blue chased the ball, as Kyle and Jye ran.


“Two, two, two!”


Running three would risk Jye getting on strike, and Kyle running out of partners. Just before the fielder could reach it, the ball hit the boundary rope. Kyle and Jye returned to their correct ends, as a cheer went up around the oval. Five balls remaining, fourteen runs to win, Kyle still on strike, thankfully. I tried to breathe out, while the Victorian team adjusted the field. The bowler’s run-up seemed to take an age again still. Kyle played a nice drive. He managed to hit it to the fielder on the rope. It would have been an easy two, but the fielder fumbled, although not enough for the ball to run away for another four. A gasp went up around us on the hill, as Kyle called Jye through, just as the fielder regained his composure. The fielder gathered the ball. They raced back for the third run on the throw, but this put Jye on strike for the next ball. The sound around the ground dimmed. As the bowler ran in, I thought that Vanessa’s finger could have come clean off, as she tweaked her rings violently. He bowled a full ball, which wrapped Jye on the pads. The whole team rose in appeal.


“Don’t do it, don’t do it,” Vanessa muttered under her breath.


The umpire shook his head, the Victorians’ shoulders slumping. Vanessa breathed out as the Bellerive crowd cheered. Dot ball. Eleven runs required, off just three balls, with Jye on strike. I doubted that Tassie could do it. Jye scratched his strikes against the crease. Kyle came down for a chat. He offered a reassuring pat on the arm, then they returned to their ends.


“I don’t know if I can watch.”


Jye resumed his batting stance, and the bowler ran in. He must have been aiming for a yorker. A collective gasp went around the crowd as the ball slipped from the bowler’s hand. Jye took evasive action, but the ball ricocheted off the handle of the bat. The umpire stuck out one arm, a no ball. An extra run to the Tasmanian total, another delivery and a free hit, albeit with Jye on strike. It took me a moment to realise in the confusion it had also gone for four. Still three balls remaining. Now just six runs to win. The crowd clapped the bowler in. Vanessa could barely watch, just peering through her slender fingers. The ball was sprayed out wide. Kyle lurched forward. With a rush of blood, Jye threw his bat at it, narrowly getting an edge on it. With a scream, he and Kyle started to run. We rose along with the others of the hill, a collective gasp uniting Bellerive as one. Before we knew it, the umpire was sweeping his arm around to signal four runs, the ragged white pill somehow getting down to the rope. Tallulah leaned into my side. I could feel her anxiety, her rapid pulse. Two balls remaining, two runs to win, Jye still on strike. Tassie had brought the match back from the brink. Still, all it would take was one good ball, one edge behind, one misjudged single, for the match to be over. Now, Victoria could change the field. They placed their third man deep, to prevent a repeat of the boundary prior.


After an age, every piece was in place. One man bowling to another, were all capable of controlling the outcome. This next ball was full and straight. For a moment believing it had snuck through, I gasped, but the yorker was dug out. One ball left in the one-day cup. Still two runs needed for Tasmania. Jye Gray, number eleven, facing Victoria’s premier fast bowler. A dead silence blanketed the ground. Again, the bowler tried for the sort of wide yorker which could win the match. Jye swung hard. The ball came off a thick outside edge, sort of like the penultimate delivery. They ran. At least there would be one. There would be no question as to whether Kyle and Jye would turn for the second. I could feel my chest getting tighter. The stumps were smashed down, but to no avail. Jye and Kyle had already made good their ground. They turned around again and this time, ran towards each other for an embrace. Kyle finally had the chance to take a breath. He and Jye started making their way off the field, helmets off to reveal sweaty hair. One of the TV commentators placed a microphone in front of him.


“What a win, hey?”


Kyle nodded, as Jared – seemingly having forgotten about his duck earlier in the night – swung off his shoulders, then continued on towards his teammates.


“How are you feeling downstairs?”


I still reckon Kyle blushed, even though his cheeks were already red.


“Mate, it’s all good, it’s all good.”


“Well, I’ll let you get back to the celebrations.”


“Thanks, mate.”


Kyle walked away. Still clapping, my eyes panned down from the big screen, to the real man, sweaty and padded up, with his bat underneath his arm. One of the support staff took his helmet and gloves from him. I took me a moment to realise that Kyle, surrounded by four shadows, was coming straight for us. Tallulah gripped the fence.


“Hey,” she greeted him dreamily. “Congratulations."


Kyle rested his bat against the fence, then she cupped his cheeks in her palms, as my heart pulsated.


“This has been the best night,” he said. “The best, best night.”


Kyle planted a kiss onto Tallulah’s lips, which she leaned into.


“I love you, Tallulah. I’m wild about you.”


Breathlessly, she beamed, and turned towards me with his arm around her.


“I’m going to stay, if that’s OK.”


“Yeah, sure, of course.”


Tallulah blew me a kiss goodbye. By that point, the rain had gotten pretty heavy, and I scampered to the car. Once I shut the door behind me, I started to laugh. It had been a night which I never would have anticipated. I placed the keys into the ignition, then I drove home, feeling a little tired. Once I arrived back in Sorell and parked in the driveway, I felt relieved. Emerging from the car, I locked it behind me, then walked up the few steps to the house. I unlocked the front door and walked inside the house. Mum and Dad were sitting on the lounge, watching TV.


“Hello, how was the bridal shower?” she greeted me.


“Lovely,” I answered.


“And the cricket?”


“Wonderful. Tasmania won.”


I sat down on the lounge for a little bit. It wasn’t my place to mention Kyle and Tallulah’s kiss to my parents, not just yet.


“I’m going to go to bed.” I stood and kissed Mum on the top of her head. “I’ve had a really lovely day.”


“I’m glad, I’m really glad.”


I left the loungeroom, walking into my bedroom. While I could have had a shower, I decided instead to just get changed into my pyjamas, feeling tired. As I lay down into bed, I heard my phone beep. Kyle had sent me a photo of Tallulah, beaming, with the trophy, green, gold and red confetti in her hair.


 

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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