The cries of a dingo echoed throughout the valley. The sun was peaking over the top of the mountain as dawn arrived. A crack of squawking cockatoos flew over the house, waking her up. Lucy smiled as she crawled out of bed. Waking up to the sounds of birds and animals was a lot better than waking up to speeding cars. She was staying at her aunt and uncle’s place until her mum was out of hospital. Lucy’s father had died last year in a car accident, and her baby sister, Rachael, had also been killed in that disaster. Life had become even more stressful for the twelve year old when the doctor told Lucy’s mum that she had a blood clot in her lung. For the past month Lucy’s mum had been struggling to live. Eventually she asked her sister to take care of Lucy in case... The goodbye had been emotional for Lucy, because she knew it was likely that she would never see her mum again.
Lucy walked into the kitchen, where her Aunt Wendy was making breakfast. Her uncle, as usual, was out with the farm hands working with the cattle and horses. ‘Lucy! Come on and sit down. Mum’s made everything you could dream of, including her homemade hash browns,’ Lucy’s older cousin, Kate, looked dreamily at the food as she spoke. They all tucked in as Wendy laid out the last of the food. Every crumb had been devoured by the time they had finished, and Lucy and Kate headed out the door for another day filled with exploring.
The two girls arrived back early that afternoon. It had started to storm, and lightning streaked the dark sky violently. Giggling, Kate and Lucy stumbled into the farmhouse, soaked to the bone. Inside, Wendy was cooking what smelt like stew. ‘Hey mum! Guess what we saw today!’ Kate greeted breathlessly.
‘A dingo was being chased by a herd of cattle. Even the little calves tried to chase it!’ exclaimed Lucy, yanking off her damp boots.
Wendy turned around, her face serious. She carried the pot of stew out to the table. ‘What’s wrong Aunty Wendy?’ asked Lucy, sitting down.
‘Kate, your father’s really busy with the new calves, so he won’t be coming to dinner tonight.’
‘He barely does. What’s so different about tonight?’ asked Kate.
‘He needs to say goodbye to Lucy. She’s going home,’ mumbled Wendy.
‘That’s great! Well, at least for Lucy and her mum!’ exclaimed Kate enthusiastically. Lucy wasn’t excited or relieved, because by looking at Wendy’s expression on her face, she knew she wasn’t going back for the reasons she had hoped for.
Lucy was right - she was going home for her mum’s funeral.
When she returned to the valley, Lucy was comforted by the only family she had left. The last few weeks had been a struggle, but, even though her mum was gone, Lucy was surrounded by people who loved her.