Over the last year, our Write-ability Goes Regional project has included a remit to uncover and showcase the work of some of Victoria's regional writers with disability.
Enjoy this extract from Christian's story, 'Three little ducks'...
On the lake, at 3am, a feeling of tranquillity came upon the landscape. A warm gentle springtime breeze tickled at the bubbling waters. The lapping waves giggled foam in response as they crept up the muddy bank. The young squalls attempted to play the same trick on the tall grasses nearby, but they simply bent down to avoid being bruised and felled. This disturbed the crickets from their chorus of songs, lullabies for the sleeping creatures and hymns for the foragers of the night.
No sooner had the winds died down, when the sweet-sounding crickets retook their places in the Insectoid Orchestra. They resumed their calling songs of Stridulation as if nothing had happened, for in many ways it hadn't, not yet anyway. On and on the song of anticipation resounded, over the lake leading the nocturnal in the interaction of predator and prey. Then with no other warning than the chill on the breeze that heralded its arrival, the sun began to stir from its nest beyond the horizon, teasing the sky with the possibility of dawn. Sensing the earliness of the hour, and thus the lateness to them, the Chorus of Crickets retired to their own dwellings, making room for the birds to begin their vibrant day-time songs.
The song of one bird spilled into the song of another. This song in turn harmonised with another, and another, and soon a hundred more, until the dark uncertain shadows of the night were chased away by the feathered psalmists of the morning and their melodies of hope. The dark shapes retreated from the shuddering cold and blackness to their hidden places and secret sanctuaries. They would not be seen or heard from again until the following night.
As the sun continued to awaken, and in turn roused all of those who had awaited its arrival during the night, the welcoming rays stretched out across the lake. The waters glistened with treasure all their own. Multitudes of dormant flowers stirred from their own slumber and yawned open in the presence of daybreak. They embraced the delights of light and life again. The chrysanthemum breathed deep sighs of relief, blossoming further with each exhale. The roses blinked open in the ever brightening day. The orchids unfurled one after the other, exposing tongues of pollen and seeds. The sunlight soon touched the lilies that blossomed in response to the reinvigorating kiss of day. From each buoyant blossom there emerged delicate, ornately winged creatures, yawning and stretching in the morning sun.
Each of these fairy folk, for that is what they were, stepped out from the unique bloom which had been their bed for the night to survey the lake which was their home. Then each and every one of them spread fair wings and one by one, took flight to the roles that they must play in the brand new day.
The last fairy to emerge was Brian. He spread his wings and flew to the nearby water’s edge, reached up to pull down a reed and plucked off a drip of dew from the blade. He drank the pleasant purity from the morning dew and looked at the reflection of the sun dancing on the water. Was that the time already? He couldn't be late on his first day of egg watching! He headed for the marshes, weaving between foliage to avoid the flying creatures of the lake now busily pollenating the wide-awake flowers. He spotted the shiny green wings of his superior waiting for him on the shore of the lake but it was too late. Brian came to an abrupt meeting with Miss Thorn, knocking her off her feet in an unexpected crash.
'Well, you've certainly cut it close, haven't you?’ Miss Thorn belted out to him derisively after she regained her composure.
'I'm very sorry, Miss Thorn,' Brian said bowing in respect, 'it won't happen again.'
‘See that it doesn’t,' Miss Thorn said in disciplinary tones, 'You already know how I feel about having to supervise you. You can’t afford any more mistakes on your record. Now, on to business.'
Miss Thorn pointed to a rather large and intimidatingly annoyed mother duck sitting on a nest of five white eggs waiting to hatch.
‘Your job is to protect these eggs while she's away. If anything goes wrong with just one of these eggs, I swear to Mother Nature, I will eat you alive myself before the duck has a chance to.'
With those words, Miss Thorn spread green translucent wings and flew into the springtime skies.
The expectant mother duck said quack quack quack quack (ducks don't really say very much as a rule) and made her way into the lake where she paddled out among the water lilies and pond weed in search of food. There was nothing for Brian to do but wait for her to return.
The young fairy was worn out from his morning flight around the water’s edge to the nest which was his post. Places to rest were few, so he settled himself down next to one of the warm eggs to take in the scenery around him. As he laid back to survey the sky he watched the clouds slowly drift by, like white fluffy continents on a breezy ocean. Brian was washed over by the large shadows of porcelain swans flying gracefully in their search for nourishment.
His meditations were abruptly interrupted. The egg that he was leaning upon slipped out from behind him. He jumped up helplessly, only to witness the egg as it rolled down the slope of the bank and gently into the lake.
Desperately Brian looked at the water’s edge and saw nothing. The egg was lost beneath the water. He searched frantically around the marsh for an unguarded egg to replace the one he had lost, but alas he found none. He flew anxiously, left, right, up, down and in between the cat tails that crowned the marsh. That's when he saw it. The largest, creamiest egg he had ever seen. It was all alone on a bird-forsaken nest of twigs and reeds out in the middle of the lake. Thinking quickly, he plucked a nearby lily pad to use as a makeshift raft.
Brian weaved through the undergrowth to ensure no-one saw him. It was heavy work rolling the egg onto his raft and pulling it back to the duck’s nest but he did it in the nick of time. The expectant mother sat on her nest as if nothing had happened. Brian had a sense of pride he hadn't felt for a long time. Sure, he had lost an egg underwater a couple of inches from the nest, but he replaced it with a bigger one. Bigger had to be better, right?
No harm, no fowl, as they say.
Five little ducks hatched out one day,
Over the marsh and far away,
One little duck was ugly to look upon,
But soon it grew into a beautiful swan.
About Christian Ali
Christian Ali is working his way through a Bachelor of Professional and Creative Writing at Deakin University in Geelong.
From childhood his passion has always been, and still is, to be a children’s author. He loves more than anything to write stories that he enjoys reading and in turn seeing other people enjoy his stories along with him.
Now 24 years old, Christian was born talking and at the age of four got his first set of wheels to substitute walking. This has never been an option for Christian, as he has a physical disability.
He appreciates all the support he receives to participate in life and recognises the great responsibility that comes with being an advocate for others. The challenges that he faces push him forward to encourage others and be an inspiration to everyone his life touches.
This commission is supported by Perpetual Trustees.
© Christian Ali 2016