Shimmer by Olivia Berkin
13-15 yo Catherine Martin Literary Winner 2019
I hate it out here. I’m always bored out of my mind. Dad says it’s only temporary but it feels like an eternity. Dad and I have moved to the middle of the Australian desert so he can work in a new mine. The days are long, boring and so hot, while the nights are freezing cold. I usually sit inside that boring old house waiting until dad comes back so I at least can talk to someone. He goes to work super early in the morning and comes back at around 12am to beat the heat. I can’t wait till Dad finishes here and we can go back to the city like normal.
Today I woke early around 4am and decided to go for a long walk. I made sure to pack plenty of water. I stepped out into the bitter cold and felt the warm grains of sand devouring my toes. The land around me is flat and bland. It reminds me of a blank canvas waiting for someone to fill it with life and beauty. I wander forward until the buzzing mine comes to my view. Deciding not to go visit dad, I keep going forward as the lights of the mine fade slowly away behind me. The sun is starting to rise, beginning to reheat this huge oven of which we are in. I hadn’t been this far before, it’s an entirely new landscape. Bushes and trees are held together in one huge group. It’s really bizarre and I’ve never seen anything like it. Sparked with curiosity I jog over to the mass burst of vegetation. To my surprise, there seems to be a path through the trees leading somewhere. The path goes for a fair way before It starts to widen becoming less and less narrow. I reach a huge clearing with a deep cool pool of water! I sort of gasp a little bit at the shocking sight of water in the middle of the desert. The water is shimmering and cool against my fingertips. It is large and I’m unsure of how deep it is, contemplating whether it would be safe for me to swim. I walk around to the other side to dump my water and backpack in the shade, but then I notice a pipe coming out of the water then disappearing into the land. This must be where we get our water from! Why hadn’t I thought of this before? I decide that it’s probably safer not to swim and I probably should get back to the house before it gets unbearably hot.
I suppose that’s why the plants have all thrived around here, the huge pool of water! So many animals are hiding in here for shade too. I’m starting to regret not bringing shoes now, despite the cozy warm of the sand under my feet when I left the house, but now the sand is beginning to burn the bottom of my feet. Suddenly there is a loud sound of scuttling feet and bushes moving. I turn my head quickly to the noise. It was just a group of kangaroos who where shocked to see me in their little heaven home. There is still more rustling even after they have all hopped away. I follow the noise to investigate, still being careful though, because dad told me that kangaroos may look cute, but they are still very dangerous apparently. The noise was coming from behind a bush. It was a small kangaroo who was struggling to get up. I could tell by the look in it’s eye that it was terrified of me, as it made frantic movements to escape. The young kangaroo’s leg seemed to be caught firmly between a log and a crevice between two large rocks.
What should I do? I know if lift the log then the young kangaroo will run away and probably slowly die because of it’s broken leg. This kangaroo looks old enough to have just left its mother’s pouch for good, so he’s still fairly large. I wonder whether he will fit in my backpack or whether he will be too big and heavy and just jump out. I don’t want the hurt his leg any further so am very cautious. I lay my sweat towel over his face to help him relax. I then lift the heavy log with a struggle. Quickly I grab him and put him in my backpack before he realises what I’m doing. I tread strongly towards home. It’s a longer walk than I’d remembered. When I eventually get back to the house, I lay the kangaroo in a bed under the shade in the back yard. I notice a bizarre patch on the back of his head the shape of a star! From then, I decided to name him Shimmer.