Zebrinny #AtoZChallenge

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Zebrinny – offspring of a male horse and female zebra

The zoo was quiet in the rain. I guess most people don’t like walking around and staring at wet animals that seem to have gloomy looks. I had promised Adya though and she wouldn’t hear about not going.

It was strange to think that in this moment I was tiring of having a five year old daughter but school was out, mum was working away and I was working at home, trying to juggle all the roles and feeling too tried to care anymore.

At least at the zoo there was things to distract Adya and walking in the rain was calming me. Without the crowds of people, I felt more safe to let her roam and do what she liked as long as it wasn’t trying to get into the animal enclosures.

‘Can we get ice cream, daddy?’ she asked as we went to see the Big Cats.

‘We just had lunch,’ I answered back.

‘Later then.’

‘Okay, later. Can you see the leopard?’

Adya pressed herself to the marked glass pane and looked around the forest scene.

I shook the umbrellas out and read the sign about the leopard.

‘I can’t see him,’ Adya whined and stuck her tongue out at her reflection.

I came over looked up, searching the thick tree branches. The leopard wasn’t to be seen.

‘Tigers!’ Adya cried and dashed over.

I trailed after her as we went from each big cat until we came outside again. The rain was really coming down.

‘Maybe we should go home?’ I asked timidly.

‘No,’ Adya shouted and stamped her foot in a puddle, splashing us both.

‘Okay,’ I uttered and huddled under my umbrella more.

People thinned out as we carried on. I saw groups of families gathered in the cafes or shops or under makeshift shelters. Adya wouldn’t hear about stopping unless that was for ice cream.

I got her a small cone and watched her get chocolate ice cream all over her face. We sat inside a cafe before heading off again. There were monkeys to see, birds to admire and an ant eater to watch sleeping. Still the rain came down and water dripped off and soaked everything. To make matters worse most of the animals were in hiding and Adya was upset she couldn’t see them all.

‘But why daddy?’ she cried.

‘Because they come from hotter places and it’s cold out. They like to stay warm.’

‘Why do they have to stay inside?’ Adya pouted.

‘Because it’s wet and they don’t like it,’ I sighed.

‘I like the rain! And I like puddles!’ Adya shouted and began stomping about in a large puddle as only a crazy five year old can.

‘There’s a cafe and shop, let’s go get a drink and I’ll buy you a teddy.’

I got a coffee and Adya a juice. I was so numb that I couldn’t feel my fingers or my feet. I didn’t take off my coat because I’d lose heat but also there was nothing worse then putting a wet coat back on.

Adya swinging her legs, sipped her apple juice and looked at the map. It was damp, full of folding lines and starting to look tatty. She named the animals we had seen; sea-lions, camels, kangaroos, red pandas etc and the animals we were to visit next; warthogs, giraffes, wolves, deer and zebra.

I half listened to her, enjoying the spreading warmth of the coffee. There were a few people at some of the other tables; a young couple on a date, a mother and two older children, an old couple and a member of staff on a break.

‘What teddy do you want, Adya?’ I asked, nodding towards the little jungle themed shop.

‘I don’t want one for there. I want one from the big shop at the front,’ Adya declared.

‘Guess it wouldn’t get wet being carried around that way,’ I mused.

‘And we have to get mummy something,’ Adya added.

‘And me….?’ I asked like a child.

Adya frowned, her small brow creasing then nodded and said, ‘yes, you can get something too, daddy.’

We finished our drinks and went back out into the rain. Adya splashed in the puddles, pointed at animals and seemed never to stop. I plodded along with water in my boots, feeling tried, craving a hot bath and a beer.

We made it around the rest of the animals and finally ended up at the last set which was deer, antelope and zebra. Most of the animals were sheltering in the low wooden stables with straw covered floors.

I picked Adya up to see better but these animals were not as exciting as some of the others. Grateful to see her bored, we hurried along and got to the zebra.

‘Why is that one a different colour, daddy?’

I looked where Adya was pointing and saw a young zebra, a year or so old and it was brown and less stripy then the others. It’s mane and tail were dark brown and longer then the other zebra.

‘Maybe, because it’s a baby?’ I spoke, ‘let’s see if there’s a sign….’

I moved down, carrying Adya on my hip. She was getting to large to carried. We came across the information point and after a scan, I spotted the odd zebra.

‘His name is Oz and his mother was a zebra but his dad was a horse, their foals are called zebrinny. He was born in twenty-nineteen. He likes carrots- a lot!’

Adya giggled and waved at the zebra, who ignored her and carried on eating.

‘That’s why he’s different then,’ I explained, ‘he’s part horse, that’s why he’s brown.’

Adya give a satisfactory nod and our day at the zoo was almost over. We walked back and went to the shop. I was worried it would be busy and noisy with children but it was nearly empty like the rest of the place had been.

Adya got a basket, leaving me to carry her pink umbrella along aside my black one. I followed close behind her, watching as she looked at the things. We went to the stuffed animals, there was a huge selection to pick from.

‘What are going to get Adya?’ I asked.

‘I want a bra-nnie! Like Oz,’ she cried.

‘Oh….’ I looked on the shelves, thinking there was no chance they’d have such a rare creature, ‘what about a tiger instead? They’re your favorite.’

She shook her head and carried on looking.

A member of staff came by and I broke with the man protectal and asked, ‘excuse me do you have a zebrinny?’

‘A what?’ the teenage girl asked me.

‘It’s a half horse, half zebra.’

She shook her head and walked away.

‘They don’t have any, sweetie,’ I said to Adya.

My daughter looked at me like she was about to explode.

‘We can just get a zebra…’

‘No!’ Adya screamed, ‘I want a zeb-brinie! And I won’t go home without one!’

I looked around desperately hoping one would appear out of thin air.

Adya crossed her arms over her chest, tucked her chin down and looked like she was holding her breath. Her little cheeks were red and her eyes all ready wet with tears. She was on the edge of a tantum.

I looked for another member of staff and spotted an older man stacking books. I went over and tried him, perhaps we could come to some other arrangement instead? Get a zebra and a horse and have someone sew them together in the back room?

‘Excuse me, do you have any zebrinny?’ I asked.

The man glanced up from the books and looked at me.

‘I’m cold, wet and tried,’ I explained, ‘my daughter wants one. I’m guessing you don’t have any, so can we sort something out for her and then we can go home?’

‘There’s one of the shelf behind you,’ the man said.

I spun so fast I almost tumbled over. I ran to the spot and hanked the half horse half zebra teddy off the shelf and looked at it like it was a miracle in my hands.

‘That one, daddy!’ Adya cried and rushed over to me, ‘he looks like Oz!’

I give her the toy and she hugged the zebrinny tightly.

Chuckling from behind made me turn and I looked at the male staff member, ‘happy to help!’ he called.

‘Thank you,’ I replied back.

We bought a few other things, took them to the till then left. In the car, I turned up the heating, took off my soaked through coat and drove us home.

Adya fell asleep hugging the zebrinny.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

This story completes April 2020’s A-Z Challenge. It’s been fun and hard writing at times. I hope you have enjoyed reading these stories. Tomorrow, I’ll be kicking off a new month and I hope to see you there! Hayley.  

Escape!

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It wasn’t a planned escape, it was one of opportunity. A gate left unlatched and the simple act of leaning against it.

The Last Humans

trees, broken, inside

The humans glanced out of the cage as the aliens passed. Unlike the Earth zoos in which the animals had been behind metal and glass, the last humans were behind an almost clear force field. Nor where they roaming though fields and trees, they had ‘mock’ houses and large gardens styled on what was known to be how the last earthlings lived in.

There were twelve of them all together. An old woman, who would smile and wave at the aliens from a rocking chair. Three children who would play in the gardens and staring questionably back. A baby, who was a fascinated by all, but not when he was crying. The rest were young and middle-aged men and women who lived a quiet life which to them was all they had ever known.

The humans were given enrichment and the aliens watched them in wonder. The children were given toys – stuffed fabric in animal shapes, puzzle games and wooden blocks. The adults were given art supplies, cooking equipment and exercise machines. The keepers wanted them to live as naturally as possible and enjoyed researching old earth pass times.

Today, the last humans had received a mixture of instruments and music players. The adults showed little interested, but the children enjoyed ringing the bells and blowing the trumpets. Finally though, the oldest man took up a guitar and began playing it. The others gathered around and soon form their own band.

The aliens were delighted. Humans were deeply mysterious after all.

 

Zoo

black-and-white, animal, boss

The day was here at last! Finally after weeks of planning I was standing by the gates, ticket in hand, ready for my day viewing the animals. The sun was shinning and a child was already crying, but nothing was going to stop me, today was all for me.

Zoo

Polar Bear, Zoo, Wildlife, Nature, Animal, Fur

There was just something so attractive about the zoo. The animals with all their bright colors and chattering noises, getting so close to them and actually touching others. The delighted oohing and awing of children filling the air as well as their cries. The smell of warm food and sugary treats. You could also picture yourself in a topical jungle, the heart of Africa or the middle of the ocean.

Polar bear

Writing prompt:

Zoe pressed her face against the cold glass and stared into the water. She could see air bubbles floating through the too blue water and a swirl of movement on the surface above. Clutching, Barley, her favourite teddy bear and strongly aware of her parents with her baby brother, Alex, standing behind her, she awaited eagerly.

A crackle of static over a nearby loud speaker caused her to jump. Zoe looked up as a boisterous female voice began speaking through the hiss of white noise. The voice welcomed them all to the Arctic Zone and to the Polar Bears, then carried on reeling off a speech that Zoe could only half understand. She let the voice slip into the background noise that was all around her and carried on staring through the window before her.

The water suddenly seemed to cave in on itself and Zoe gasped loudly, drawing the attention of her parents. They carried on watching as the water divided apart and a dead fish dropped into view quickly being chased by a large white bear. Zoe, squeezing Barley tighter, stepped back and her heels catch her daddy’s feet. She felt his large hands press down on her shoulders reassuringly, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the polar bear.

The bear opened his large black mouth and snatched the fish up before it could hit the floor of the tank. With larger than life legs and paws, the bear stretched and swim back up. He’s ice white fur moved like a mermaid’s hair with a life of its’ own. His paws swirled the water around him and he disappeared back up.

Zoe rushed back to the window, tucking Barley into her elbow as she pressed both her hands to the glass. She looked up and saw the belly of the polar bear almost above her. She heard him break the surface of the water and even felt a little splash of wetness on her face. Zoe sank down to the little ledge jutting out and put her head all the way up. Her view was distorted by the turbulent water, but she could make out the polar bear getting out and scrambling onto the fake iceberg land.

The water took a long time to settle and the voice over the loud speaker was still going on. Zoe bite her lip and wondered if the polar bear would return. She wanted to ask her parents, but was too worried that she’d miss seeing him again if she did so. Hugging Barley in both hands, she watched the hypnotic dancing of the air bubbles.

When the water began surging again, Zoe held her breath. She saw a paw then the rest of the polar bear. He seemed to be swimming towards her. A tremble of fear shot through her and she felt frozen to the ledge. The bear was getting closer and closer. She could see his shiny black nose and eyes, which seemed to be watching her.

Zoe twisted Barley in her hands and let out a small squeak of fear. She felt a brush of warm air from behind her and her daddy’s soft voice in her ear. She felt his hand on back and he was whispering to her not to be afraid. The polar bear wasn’t going to eat her, he was looking for more fish. Zoe’s lips quivered, but she couldn’t speak nor take her eyes off the mighty white bear.

Another dead fish dropped into view behind him and Zoe thought her daddy was right. The bear would go for the fish, he just needed to turn around. Still holding that breath, she waited. However the bear didn’t turn, but dropped to the floor and actually walked the few steps towards the window.

Zoe felt the urge to scramble away, but her body had turned to jelly. Instead, she focused her attention on not crying and repeating her daddy’s words. Her mommy’s voice excitedly called them to turn for a photo. Zoe give a little shake of her head then became aware of her mom using the camera anyway. She felt her daddy trying to turn her around, but she wasn’t sure she could.

Finally, she turned her head, painfully aware of the polar bear pressing his face and paws to the window and gave a ghost of a smile to her mommy and the camera. Photo taken, she snapped her eyes back to the glass and met those of the bear. A scream shot to her throat, but she swallowed it as her Daddy hushed her with calming words. Zoe bit her lip and tasted the bitterness of blood. She raised Barley to her face and hide behind him. From the corner of her eye, she saw her daddy signalling her mommy over and her leaving Alex in the push chair to join them.

Her mommy scared her why she was so scared? The bear couldn’t hurt her, he couldn’t get through the glass. Zoe, sucking on her lip, mumbled something that her parents missed. Her daddy tried to wrap her into a hug, but she wouldn’t move. Her mommy rubbed her arms and tried to comfort her. Zoe pressed Barley into her face and chocked on the sob.

Her daddy won the battle of moving her and swept her up into a hug. She moved Barley out of the way and pressed into his shoulder. Zoe took breaths and felt herself getting calm again. Slowly, she pulled her head up and looked over to the window. The polar bear had gone leaving a swirl of water in his wake.