Highly Commended Story - Koala Diaries
“Koala Diaries” by Lo Ian Ee, Eleos, Fairfield Methodist School (Primary), Singapore, is the Highly Commended story in the junior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
Eleos is a 10 year old attending Fairfield Methodist School in Singapore. He is an avid reader and loves to read about commercial aviation, which fits in with his other passion for traveling. In addition, he enjoys food and loves helping his mum to cook and read cookbooks too! Recently, his mum helped him to set up a private blog where he wrote about travel destinations, eateries he has been to and also his short stories.
"Cheep! Cheep!" came the song of the birds in the Australian Outback.
"Fluffy! Come for breakfast!" my mother shouted.
"Coming mom!" I responded.
During breakfast (which was just eucalyptus leaves(again)), my mother said we would be going to walk around the vicinity (of course, like any other koala, I was very excited).
After breakfast, we climbed down from our tree and wandered around the area. I was fascinated at the sights I saw! Kangaroos, wallabies, and platypuses!
At around noon, we approached Ayers Rock. There were a few climbers that were climbing at that time, and we stopped to have lunch. I was munching and chewing hard on my twelfth leaf when we heard a crackle. Both of us turned around, and to our horror, was a giant bushfire! We both raced up the nearest tree.
The flames grew rapidly and soon, we were swinging madly from tree to tree. Both of us raced for our dear lives. Fear raced through my body and I was uncertain if we would survive. The odds were very uneven. It would take a miracle to be rescued.
Unfortunately, we eventually grew tired and the flames started reaching closer. I was panting for air and lost my balance. I fell over the branch and into the flames!
Mom jumped after me and tried dragging me outside of the fire. We were both panting and gasping for air. The flames grew closer and I thought I would die.
"Stay here," mom said, and went off to find help. But just before she could leave, a group of people came into this section of the fire. They shot foam and soap water at the fire and it quickly died down, but the fire behind it grew bigger again. They increased the pressure and shot out an even stronger stream of foam. I lay down there, watching helplessly with no energy. Is this what dying means?
After about two hours, they cleared out and another group of people came into this section. I thought they were helping fight the fire, but instead they were picking up wounded animals and bringing them to a contraption nearby. I took a glance at one of the person's shirt, and it said ANIMAL SHELTER.
I thought they would miss us as we were hidden behind lots of bushes, but a volunteer with platinum blonde hair quickly fished us out from our little place. I, for probably the first time that day, exhaled as I knew that help was here, and they were helping me.
We were then put in a box-like thing with four round fruits for legs and were driven off somewhere else really strange. Mom passed out already and I settled down to rest now that we were safe.
The next day, we arrived in a shelter(so I learned). Someone put me in a cage and gave me some eucalyptus leaves to eat. I said to myself: this place is rather clean and cool, a change from home. Home was warm, sometimes blistering, and...green and brown and blue. For once in my life, I felt...weird.
But as the days went by, I started to miss home and Mom.
When we were first put in the shelter, I was very scared without Mom as she was sent to the intensive care area. We spent days apart and I slept alone at night. The shelter(as they call it) was scary at night. The wallaby beside me was nice, but all I wanted was Mom.
The next day, Mom was put in the same cage as me! I felt very relieved knowing that my mother was there to care for me. I no longer had to sleep in the dark by myself but had someone to snuggle next to. I also no longer had to be alone by myself during the day, which could be such a bore.
While some volunteers walked by, I heard them say something about "two koalas from the fire will be released in about one week". I was pretty sure it was us. But I was not sure if I still wanted to go home, or whatever was left of it after the fire.
A week later, it was time for us to go home. But I did not want to go home. Home is hot, and dry and dangerous! The shelter is cool, quiet, and peaceful. However, I knew we still had to go. I wondered: what does home mean to me? Then I understood that home is wherever Mom and I can be together.
Note: this short story was based on the 2017 Carwoola bushfire that happened in New South Wales on 17-18 February 2017.