Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: PUZZLE (11/24/16)
- TITLE: The All Knowing Neighbour
By Jennifer Woodley
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‘What are you talking about?’ he rose and looked at me quizzically over our dividing fence.
‘You know, down there in the bush’ I waved a hand in the direction of the nature reserve, beside our recently purchased home.
A smile flickered around his lips as he replied,‘There’s no wild pigs in there, you must be dreaming in your sleep!’
‘But they’re so loud’ I argued, ‘and such a horrible grunting sound. How can you not hear them Vince?’ He just shrugged, turned his attention to the garden and I walked back inside, puzzled over the matter.
Each balmy summer night all through December rising above the deafening chant of crickets, I heard the same grotesque snorts and snuffles. Shaking my husband from his deep slumber, I said, ‘There, can’t you hear them? And again now, there must be a whole herd!’
But he smiled at me with a sleepy grin and replied, ‘You’re dreaming darling, just hearing noises that are not there. Go back to sleep.’
Locals, when questioned, denied ever seeing or hearing wild pigs. Perhaps I just imagined noises they said to me and then politely departed, suspecting no doubt, that the new girl in town was quite mad. But this was a difficulty that I was determined to solve.
One steamy dawn in early January, as a fiery ball began to hint at appearing on the horizon, I heard the same obnoxious noises pierce the airways. It was very early. Too early for the cacophony of calls that were soon to let loose from the giant gums that guarded our home. But I was on a mission, despite the time of day. The truth had to come out.
Not waking my husband, I quickly dressed, slipped on sneakers and stepped outside. Admiring my courage, or perhaps it was stupidity, I followed the grunts and snorts which seemed to penetrate the entire landscape. Bravely, I descended the stone steps into the nature reserve and followed the recently cleared track that wound along the dry creek bed. Invisible spider webs brushed my face and I incessantly wiped them away. The joys of being first to walk the path in the morning.
The grunts grew louder, filled the whole reserve and reverberated off the sandstone cliffs that protected the gorge. The vegetation thickened. Would I be trampled upon or gorged by an onslaught of feral pigs? Yet fear, which beckoned me to leave and run, gave way to a growing perplexity that resolved to get an answer. Was there pigs here or was I going mad as I had been told?
Neither. What I saw ahead, lumbering along the path, caused a hearty belly laugh to emerge that almost equaled the clamor erupting from not a herd of pigs, but two small koalas. Two males no doubt, that were perhaps guarding their territory, or arguing over a mate, or disputing over the tastiest eucalypt leaves. Whatever their problem, they had not worked out a solution for almost five weeks now.
Leaving the path, they slowly climbed separate trees, higher and higher until my eyes strained in the glare to see their fat, furry bodies. Separation did little to settle their differences though. I turned almost enjoying their conversation, feeling buoyant that the puzzle had been solved and thankful that I had not been gorged to death in the early hours of the morning.
Still, it was perplexing that two small mammals made so much noise. And that such cute,cuddly koalas sounded like a herd of ferocious, feral pigs. Perhaps Vince, who has lived next to this reserve for over 37 years, knows more than he lets on.
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