Being different wasn’t in her mind when Isabelle came into the world. She knew she was loved by her mum and that’s all that mattered.
It wasn’t until summer, that Isabelle could venture beyond the small surrounds of the nest her mother had made. Food was always plentiful in the farmer’s storage shed, where he kept his winter supplies of fruit. Picked early, they were left to ripen, before being sent to market. It was only after the big trucks had left that food became scarce. Leftover from the farmer’s gardens, his mum had made a cosy nest in the straw bale, packing it with old newspaper the workers had left on their break.
By summer, Isabelle was old enough to leave its warm confines and she ventured outside with her mum. Waiting until dark, she scurried out from behind the shed door and out to the line of fruit trees, and came across another field mouse, Henry, foraging for seed. Shadowing her mum through the overgrown grass, Isabelle picked around the base of the trees. Sometimes, if they were lucky, a caterpillar might have fallen from the apples. Too slow for the swift adeptness of the field mice, they made a tasty treat. It was during one of these moments, when Henry saw her.
‘Ooh, aren’t you the weird one?’
Isabelle looked up from munching on the last piece of the slow caterpillar and saw Henry staring at her. Taken aback, she raced behind the tree, then peaked out.
‘Ah, hi,’ She said.
Henry totted around to greet her. ‘I said, aren’t you weird?’
‘I don’t know what you mean, why am I weird?’
‘Well, you’re white.’
Isabelle looked down at her furry little paws and legs. ‘Yes, I guess I am. Why does that make me weird?’
Henry took a step closer and she squealed. The other mice heard and came over.
‘Ooh look at her! Isn’t she different? ‘quipped one.
‘Well, obviously she’s come from some other animal family, hasn’t she? ‘remarked another.
‘Quite right. I haven’t seen her before,’ the first one responded.
By now, Isabelle’s mother had heard all the noise and came scurrying over.
‘What’s all this about then?’ she shouted.
‘Well, it’s her.’ They all pointed to Isabelle.
‘What about her.’ Isabelle’s mum asked.
‘She’s not like us, is she? She’s white. Field mice are supposed to be brown, or black or...’
‘White, ‘piped in Isabelle’s mum. ‘Some field mice are white,’ emphasising this last word.
Isabelle raced behind her mum and closed her eyes, curling her tail around her little body tightly, so she could have been mistaken for a fluffy ping pong ball. She didn’t like these new rodents who made her feel sad. Isabelle’s mum curled her own tail around Isabelle as she spoke up to address the crowd that was now gathering around them both.
‘Well, now that we all know my daughter is unique and special, but still a field mouse, you can all just go back to your own foraging and leave her alone, thank you very much!’ She said this with a firmness that Isabelle hadn’t heard before and peaked out from behind her mum to see the other mice scurry away as though they’d not been used to being scolded.
‘It’s ok, love. You can come out now.’ Isabelle’s mum stretched out her tail and her daughter uncurled her body, fluffing herself up as she shook off, feelings of embarrassment.
‘Why were they so awful mummy?’ she asked.
‘They just haven’t seen any other mice so beautiful darling.’
‘But Henry told me I looked weird.’
‘You are not weird. You are unique. There’s a difference,’ her mum answered.
‘So, does this mean that they won’t want to play with me?’ asked Isabelle.
‘For a while, they may seem a little stand offish but once they realise how amazing you are, they’ll all want to be with you every day, I’m sure.’
Isabelle wasn’t as certain as her mum. Henry and the others had really made her feel different, as though she had incurable disease which they might all catch if they came too close. She hid behind her mum for the remainder of the day, wondering whether she should have come out at all.
As the week went by, Isabelle eventually found friendship in Henry who liked her colour.
‘You know, I thought you looked weird at first Izzie, but I really like your colour. Its different and, well, you’re not like the others. You don’t gossip or hang around being silly like them. You seem friendly and warm.’
Isabelle liked Henry. She thought he was rather handsome too. His brown fur was smooth, and he had a cute little nose that nudged her sometimes.
‘I’m glad we’re friends. ’Isabelle said. ‘It was lonely not having anyone to talk to.’
One day, Henry thought he would help collect some seeds for his new friend. They were foraging around under the trees, chatting about different things and not really paying attention to their surroundings. Suddenly, out of nowhere, they saw the farm cat sneak around the back of the trees and Henry screamed.
‘Isabelle, hurry, go back to the shed. Tell your mum the cat’s here.’ Henry tried to lure the cat away from his friend, but it was too swift. Pouncing on Henry, with one swift swipe of his paw, he picked him up. About to eat poor Henry, Isabelle heard him cry. ‘I love you Izzie.’
Isabelle raced over to the cat and bit his back leg. Screaming in pain, he dropped Henry and Izzie helped her friend scurry back to the safety of the hay bale in the barn. The cat tried to race after them, however the farmer had locked the doors and there was no space large enough for the cat to crawl through. Henry and Isabelle crept in, though their secret hole.
‘Thank you, Izzie. I was almost dead meat there for a moment.’
Isabelle nudged her little nose against Henry. ‘Friends have to stick together.’
From then on, Henry and Isabelle made a pact that forever more, they would stick by each other’s side.
Not a victim
Victim. The word rang in my ears as the mayhem of the day before came to memory. It had been the beginning of any other day when I rose and headed off for work. I dressed as normal, made lunch with lettuce and mayonnaise and plodded off to the station. And that's where it all went wrong.
To my dismay, the trains weren't running and now, I was running late.
It took a whole hour to get everyone onto the pathetic buses they had sent. I thought that maybe the railways would have foresight to supply more than one bus for we sad beings who had been stranded on this rainy day. We had been in drought for five bloody years and yet this was the day the skies decided to let forth a mayhem so hard that tracks were flooded, and trains couldn’t get through. Four inches had fallen whilst we were all sleeping and the fact that the local council hadn't done their job of cleaning out drains during the drought, meant they'd backed up and overflowed. So voila, flood and mayhem.
Well at least I saw that the mayor had been trapped. After all, she hadn't known her council workers had been slack and so here she was, like me, waiting in line to catch the bus. It was funny because I had only seen her on the TV and well, you know, it was the fact that here she was in real life, waiting, just like everyone else. It made me realise she was human, and vulnerable to ad-hoc occurrences.
Feeling a little bemused, I decided to try to get the seat next to her on the bus. After all, it was a good opportunity to let her know what was going on in real life around the little village where I lived. So, after juggling my way through the crowded bus line, I managed to find myself sitting next to this person I'd never really known.
'Good morning Lady Mayor,' I said politely. After all, I had some sense of respect. Our mayor managed to smile as I sat down though pretended to be busy reading. I didn't mind. The bus journey was long, and I was patient. After all, I had been waiting for some time to vomit my displeasure of the lack of spending by council in our area. You see, I was just a mere constituent at the receiving end of those lack of funds.
The reason? Council was building a marina close by. It was her brainstorm and since it's conception some fifteen years prior, all spare funds had been allocated to beautifying its surrounds. The village where I lived, though two kilometres away, was not close enough to benefit. So, though part of the same shire, we missed out. For fifteen bloody years. But today was my chance to make it right. Yep, it was satisfying to say the least. I was not going to be a victim any more.
A naked climate change
‘Why are you doing that?’
Suzy was chatting to her friend Kate. They’d been friends since school and Suzy had gone on to work in Sydney. It had been a while since they’d caught up, but when they turned sixty, decided to get together with all their old school mates. Sandra had organised a school reunion and she posted it on Facebook.
‘It’s going to be a hoot!’ Make sure you come along dressed as something in nature.
The theme caught Sandra’s attention as a result of what had been happening around the world. Climate change was on the agenda for many politicians and Australia had been suffering from this for a few years. Yet Suzy was upset that most people hadn’t taken note and she decided it was time for change.
‘So, I thought I would be a tree” suggested Sandra.
‘Well they won’t be around for long’ laughed Suzy.
‘Neither will we’ remarked Kate.
As the three friends went along to the school reunion, protesting about climate change, they hoped that their school colleagues would help to sign their petition, complaining that the government wasn’t doing enough to support it. Coal stations still drove power and not enough was being done to recycle plastics.
‘How about we just run naked in the hall?’ They laughed. ‘Then we would at least get on the news.’
And they all thought that was the best idea anyone had come up with-until they realised it was going to be winter.