How High Can a Kangaroo Hop? by Jackie French

How High Can a Kangaroo Hop? by Jackie French

Author:Jackie French [Jackie French]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780730443742
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

The car came round the corner. I stood back in the trees’ shadows near the fence to let it pass, blinking in the glare of the headlights.

The first shot just missed me. I screamed, just as the second shot jerked my arm. I waited for the pain, the blood. Another shot, and another. I screamed again, waving my arms so the shooters knew I was there. I heard one of them swear. Then they gunned the motor, and the ute sped off up the mountain road.

I was shaking, from anger as well as fright. I looked at my arm. The bullet hadn’t struck me, just gone through the sleeve of my jacket. A few centimetres the other way and I’d have been dead.

I looked up at the hill. The roos were all running in different directions. Even the joeys took a different route from their mothers, to make it harder for anything to attack the whole mob.

One of the roos pushed her joey out of her pouch, under a bush where it would be hidden. She bounded down to the road where the shooters had been, to draw them away from her baby. But the hunters had gone. The Red-necks returned to the shelter of the trees. All but one.

The big roo bounded away to find her baby again. I walked up to the wounded wallaby and crouched down. It was hardly alive, its paws twitching frantically, its eyes gazing at me in terror. But as I watched the twitching stopped. The eyes seemed to cloud. She was dead. There was nothing I could do.

I hadn’t recognised the ute—it wasn’t a local. I waited just in case it came back again, watching the headlights travel up the mountain road. The Pretty-face Wallabies would be feeding lower down, and the Rock Wallabies further up.

I waited for more shots, or for the ute to stop, which meant that they could have hit a wallaby who’d darted out across the road in terror at the last minute. But the headlights climbed steadily up the mountain. Soon they were gone.

A few years ago I would have buried the wallaby, but now I knew that she was food for the goannas, crows and other creatures. It was best to leave her where she lay. I checked her pouch, but there wasn’t a joey.

So I walked on down to Jean’s.

It felt good to be safe in a lit room. But I felt angry, too. Night should be a safe time, for me and other animals, the harsh sunlight gone, the valley full of possums and wombats, owls and nightjars. The shooters had made me feel scared of the darkness. I would never walk that bit of road again without a tingle of fear. They had made me feel ashamed of being human, too.

The moon was high when I finally left Jean’s, full of sponge cake and raspberries and passionfruit and cream. I was no longer shaking.

And then I saw the wallaby again. This time she wasn’t alone.


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