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by Joy
Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #372872
Wallaroos in a zoo
          Charcoal Charlie, the male wallaroo or rock kangaroo, watched Miranda, the female wallaroo, from a far corner.

         "Hush, Joey, go to sleep," Miranda said, rocking the joey in her pouch. The heavy heat of the day had raced away, and at night, even the voices inside the enclosure had cooled down.

         Charcoal Charlie stayed away from Joey. The kid was noisy, obnoxious, and much too inquisitive for Charlie's taste. Kids should be seen and not heard. Better yet, not seen. They should stay in the pouch where they belonged. That Joey took too much of Miranda's time, to boot.

         When darkness set in, Charlie was glad that the joey would sleep early, for Charlie liked to wallow in his dreams of the bush, the grassy plains, and Tolumnia orchids growing wild on ancient trees. He scratched the furry pads on his feet. Unfortunately, they had lost their digging power inside the thick cement partition. Only when that human girl Rosemary let the door open into the small clearing, Charlie could hop around. He was never let outside long enough to dig for water.

         Miranda was happy to have her food and water delivered, but not Charlie. He felt it was humiliating to take things from humans who had captured him. He never forgot the things they did to him. He remembered being trapped in a net. He remembered how he had held his breath and trembled all through the long journey in a tight cage. He remembered it all.

         Miranda, well, he wasn't so sure of Miranda. The woman acted as if she had no mind. Maybe, like Joey, she was born in a place like this enclosure. That could be why she seemed so content to scratch and loll in her complacent life.

          When Charlie awoke it was daylight. Still, the gate wasn't lifted. Some men were digging in and putting some new grass shrubs and green plants, the scents of which excited Charlie. He snorted at Miranda who was looking at him with a sneer. What would she understand about the aroma of grass?

         A few hours later, Rosemary came to open the gate. "Good Morning, Charlie. You should be happier today. Just look out there."

         Charlie hopped out into a surreal world of new, and yet familiar aromas. Then, he turned around and looked at Miranda. Miranda, too, was excited, but only because she liked to imitate Charlie. She shook her shaggy dark gray fur, and keeping an eye on Rosemary, she moved hesitantly toward the open gate. She had to protect Joey from everyone, even Rosemary. One could never be too careful with one's own children.

         "Phooey!" Charlie thought. "She clings to Joey like a sloth to a tree. Foolish woman."

          Just then, Joey jumped at Rosemary's back pocket and snatched her hairbrush. Rosemary took a few steps back because she knew she had to respect Miranda's instincts. "Okay, Joey," she said. "You can have it."

         Charlie looked at the new sign. He couldn't read it. But it had to be a good omen because the clearing seemed more like home now. He heard Rosemary comment to the other workers. "Look that sign is wrong. It has to say, 'Welcome to the Bush Habitat'. You wrote Jungle instead of Bush."

         "No, Miss Terrence. It isn't the writing. They guys just put the wrong sign in the wrong place. I'll have them change it when the animals are inside. I think they put the bush sign with the apes where the jungle sign should go."

         "Morons," Charlie thought. "They don't know their own signs." Then, he looked at Miranda. She was sniffing inside a tire while Joey was trying to do something to her fur with the hairbrush. Charlie didn't like this one bit. "Incomprehensible! This child is learning the wrong culture," he thought.

         And then, Charlie turned his head around, and he saw it. He trembled at first, but the next second, he shrieked with joy. In two hops he was near it; he danced around it. "Why, pal, good to see you." He stroked its grassy hair caressing the thick trunk. No show of happiness was beneath his adult dignity now. Miranda hopped after him with Joey tagging along still holding the hairbrush.

         They were now observing the Australian Grass Tree. . Their big-eyed stares signaled the traces of homeland etched in their souls and their ears twitched as if listening to the magical music of a promised paradise. Imagine an Australian Grass Tree in an American Town by the Pacific Ocean...A trick maybe, a dead-pan sidling tact, but at least, this was a consolation.

         Charcoal Charlie was happy.

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