I wrote this short story back in December 2013 as part of a Young Writer’s Facebook group. I didn’t win, and in all honestly I didn’t even sell it. Here’s what I wrote with it:
“I don’t think my story is good by any means, it’s okay, and I would have liked more time, but the fam bam has arrived taking up my time 😛 So with 49 minutes until Christmas here is my story.”
P.S. Make sure you read down long enough to see the uh-mazing drawing my best friend did of a scene in this short story 🙂 I’m super jealous of his talent, but then I remember I’d probably spend more time drawing the books I read, than actually reading them 😛
Sky pushed her daughter’s feet in her gumboots. If Claire was determined to play outside she needed safe footwear. Sky turned to address her potato bake she was making for Christmas lunch tomorrow, and Claire was gone – tottering out of the house, past the treehouse and into the bush beyond.
The toddler walked past the tall gums, brushing her hands on everything to compare to the bush at her home. Claire was having a gay time wandering through the shrubs, everything was new and exciting. She’d never explored past Harley’s cubby house before.
Without taking much thought about the direction she was going, it was quite easy for Claire to become lost. Nobody, not even Claire, figured her short legs could carry her far in such a short time.
Before long Sky began to worry for her daughter after not finding her in the backyard, but it was only a lone wolf, unusual in the Australian outback, that heard her cry.
Harley raced through the bush wanting, and needing, to get to Claire in time. He saw her little figure in the distance, her back to him, and took a courageous jump over a log to reach her. Harley didn’t pause. He swept in front of Claire, his hackles raised and a growl in his throat.
Claire had stopped in that particular spot because there was a panther only five meters in front of her, slowly slinking closer, and closer, as it licked its lips. No matter how fully grown the panther was, or how small Harley was compared to it, the wolf pup barked fiercely – jumping forth a few paces in hopes of scaring the panther away.
When the panther fully disappeared into the bush, the pup spun around and licked Claire’s bare arms and face. The toddler trembled at first, afraid he might be another foe, but when the wolf stopped licking her and only appraised her warmly, Claire concluded that he was okay. He did chase away the panther after all.
Claire grabbed onto the wolf’s fur. Harley led her back through the bush using his senses to guide him home. Sky was jogging around the perimeter of the house in her sneakers, calling out to Claire.
Upon hearing her mother Claire called out in a squeaky voice, ‘Mumma!’
Sky froze at her voice and spun to face her daughter. Sky rushed forwards and engulfed Claire in her arms. Claire enjoyed the affection, but pushed her mother away after the hug, not understanding why Sky was grappling her tightly.
‘Lex, she’s here!’ Sky called to her husband.
Claire was placed on the ground. Sky took a firm hold of her hand and walked her back to the house. Claire toddled slowly along swivelling her head around looking for her wolf. She babbled to Sky all about the wolf and how it saved her from the ‘tiger’, but Sky dismissed this as Claire’s imagination.
Meanwhile Harley had rushed up to his cubby house and changed. Claire toddled up soon after and wanted to recount all about her, now exciting rather than terrifying, adventure. Much to Claire’s disappointment, Harley didn’t give her the reaction she wanted. He even shoed the little girl away.
Harley watched Claire leave, from his view out of the cubby house window with curious feelings in his heart. He didn’t understand how this girl, who he always thought of as a tolerable baby, was now something important to him, something for him to protect. He didn’t know how to face these feelings.
Christmas morning dawned clear and sunny. Claire wasn’t allowed to be anywhere without at adult, usually Sky. Despite Harley dismissing Claire yesterday, he kept a tight hold on her hand even when they opened their presents under the tree.
Rosemary, Harley’s mother, gestured this out to Sky with a knowing look. ‘She’ll never be alone again.’
Sky followed her gaze, but wasn’t sure if she wanted to grimace or smile. She sighed heavily.
‘That’s what I’m afraid of.’
Yet she couldn’t help, but smile knowing her daughter would forever be looked after by a boy who was destined to grow into a wonderful man.