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Shaina and I (standard:non fiction, 1322 words)
Author: ZoeAdded: Nov 22 2001Views/Reads: 1926/1179Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A moving childhood tale inspired by memories and experiences of my own, growing up on a farm, hardships and the illness of my niece.

Zoe lay back into the soft grass at the river’s edge. She lazily
untwisted her tangled wet hair through her fingers, and enjoyed the 
warm summer breeze as it drifted over her bare drying skin. 

The dappled light from the willow tree above tickled warmth across her
face, and she smiled to herself as she listened to the subtle familiar 
sounds of the river’s wildlife. 

Paddling happily in the shallow water was Shaina, Zoe’s niece. Shaina
was six, and although Zoe was but two years her senior, she felt a 
strong responsibility for her. Shaina’s thin, gauntly stature also made 
her appear even more fragile than a typical six-year-old. 

A lazy afternoon by the riverside was a common ritual for the two. Best
friends and soul mates, they had been raised together in the same home 
as sisters, after Shaina’s mother (Zoe’s sister) had failed to pick her 
up from Grandma’s house one afternoon. 

That was over two years ago. 

Occasionally there would be a scribbled letter or a phone call from
wherever her mum happened to be. Most of the time, it seemed she was 
calling from a payphone. The voice was quiet, scratchy and usually 
overpowered by either highway noises or turbulent, rowdy voices and 
loud pub music. 

Kate struggled to resist the temptation to close her eyes and sleep in
the warm sun. Shaina was still swimming and she could not be left 

Zoe yawned, stretched out her arms and beckoned Shaina to the bank. 

Almost on command, Shaina excitedly scrambled up the muddy slope and
slumped down beside Zoe, proudly displaying the beautiful stones she 
had collected in her small leather pouch. Her smile was wide, revealing 
the front tooth she had successfully removed two days ago. 

“This one’s for you,” said Shaina, digging deep into her collection. She
retrieved a small flat stone, about the size of a walnut and placed it 
in Zoe’s palm. It was beautifully rounded, smooth and black with tiny 
glinting specs of white. On one side was a ‘back-to-front’ letter Z 
inscribed in red clay. Zoe smoothed it across her cheeks, eyelids and 
lips and smiled, “Thank you.” 

“Isn’t it smoove?” said Shaina happily. “I fought you would wike it.
It’s bwack, just wike you hair.” 

Zoe smiled, “I love it.” she said as she squeezed the remaining water
out of Shaina’s hair. 

“Good!” chirped Shaina, “Can I go back and get more?” 

Zoe thought for a second. She wanted to go to the windmill paddock and
see the horses. It was only about 200 meters away. She could also check 
their water, it had been hot the last few days and the horses would 
probably be thirsty. 

“I need to water the horses,” said Zoe, “you can come with me.” 

Shaina appeared disappointed. Her eyes drew and her mouth became flat.
She so obviously wanted to stay. 

“I can’t leave you here by yourself, you know that.” 

Shaina’s eyes looked pleading. “I’m a big girl now, and I’ll be seben

Zoe didn’t understand why she wanted to stay. 

“Pwease?” she said in her cutest voice, “Pweeeease?” Zoe looked at her
sideways. “O.K,” she said, “but remember, you cannot go into the water 
you hear? Nowhere near the deep part either.” “Can I stay in the smawl 
part to get stones?” “Alright,” answered Kate edgily, “but don’t go out 
any further, stay by the bank.” 

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