Emund the Single Dad
He saw them gathering in the trees around the edge of the property.
He heard their conversation, as he prepared his dance floor.
‘He is very good at what he does,’ one voice said.
‘It’s an excellent location and gives such good, reliable follow-up service too,’ said another.
‘I wouldn’t come here if he didn’t,’ he recognised the first voice again.
‘Well after all, the family has been here for years. Emund learnt all he knows from his father,’ a third, knowingly, replied.
‘It’s good to know they like what I do,’ he muttered, and finished his preparations for the dance.
‘It must be strange being so different from other mothers, always on the move,’ Emund said to himself.
Emund raised his head towards the sound.
‘Oh look. Here comes Emulena. I had better go and greet her or I’ll never hear the end of it,’ he said.
Emund looked around to make sure the place was perfect, then gestured a greeting.
The dancers moved onto the dance floor, each eager to take their turn with Emund. They swayed this way and that, and mingled together as he made his way through to Emulena.
‘BONK! BONK,’ came again, louder and much closer.
‘Excee-use me…I have a private session,’ Emulena called confidently.
The other dancers moved aside as Emund left them to join Emulena who flounced her way toward him.
Emund did not fuss about who took the lead with this dancer.
She liked to do things her own way, in her own time, so he followed her every dip and weave.
The boa around her neck bounced in time to her sensuous dance movements. He joined her mood, matching his steps with her rhythms.
The dance ended.
They bowed deeply, unmoving as if frozen in time.
Slowly they lifted their eyes to each other and the moment passed.
With a ruffle of her feather boa around her neck, Emulena moved around behind him.
She headed for the centrepiece of his dance floor.
‘Would you look after these for us; there is room for them here. Is that alright?’ Emulena pointed to some packages on the ground and, without waiting for an answer, added another. This she laid down delicately, with an agility belying her size and shape.
‘We all know, you will use your magic, as you naturally do. Please deliver them in your own way,’ Emulena turned to the other dancers who nodded in agreement.
‘I am sorry we cannot stay longer… places to find, things to do… You know how it is. Besides you have not enough food for us all if we stay,’ she said as the others mingled around.
Emulena fluffed up her feathers, turned and left the dance floor with a promise to get together, and do this again sometime.
Emund watched the main group of dancers. They promenaded in twos and threes as they followed in her wake.
‘She never stays for long, although she always comes back. None of them can ever settle in one place.’ he mused, and watched the dancers leave his dance floor.
‘I had better see to the new stocks while there is still daylight,’ he sighed.
Turning, he looked closely at the pale green coverings of the latest delivery.
‘I shouldn’t have too much difficulty with this batch,’ he said to himself. He examined the items individually, before covering each one with care.
One of them contained food. This he placed in the centre of the group.
He kept everything clean.
During the following fifty-five days, he concentrated for many hours at a time, never moving, regardless of the wind, rain or the sun’s burning rays.
Being alone was his choice.
He turned each package over every three hours and covered them again to ensure they all stayed in good condition and at a constant temperature.
Their colour would change soon.
He must stay alert.
At other times, as if to some unheard melody, he swayed from side to side.
He did not eat.
He did not drink.
Each morning, he looked up to greet the sun, knowing he had survived another day.
When he saw danger coming from the sky, or off the plain, and sometimes both at the same time, he dropped his head and long neck to the ground.
Only his eyes, under long lashes, moved as he watched the danger.
‘I’m a bush, I’m a bush,’ he said with voice hushed, willing the predators to go away.
‘Nothing to eat here,’ he repeatedly thought at them.
The disguise worked, he fooled both bird and dog.
He must stay alert.
He must survive, because other lives depended on him.
Occasionally he glanced over to where the dancers were only a few weeks before. ‘It would be nice to have some company,’ he wistfully told himself.
‘This single life has a lot to be desired, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be,’ he pondered, then returned to his lonely, seemingly unending task.
‘That’s close,’ he exclaimed, wondering what had disturbed him. The wide sky arched overhead, cloudless.
He rose on his long, malnourished and knobbly, stick-like legs to his feet.
‘CRR-ACK,’ again but this time he knew what it was.
He looked down towards the sound.
He saw the cause on the ground, at his feet.
‘The waiting is over,’ he exclaimed as one after another, the smooth, dark green shells cracked.
Wriggling, wet balls emerged.
He pranced and he danced, seemingly to defy gravity, in his celebration of their safe arrival.
The ‘balls’ became striped and fluffy in the warmth of the sunny day.
Wide mouths demanded food.
He quickly broke the unfertilised, central egg. What the youngsters did not eat the flies exchanged for maggots. The young chicks devoured everything whether it moved or not.
In due time, Emund nudged the brothers and sisters into a small group. He herded them towards new horizons, prancing and dancing, as they learnt all from their Dad-come Mum.
Eighteen months later, with the season changes, the families gather again as there is food for all.
His task complete, Emund gets the urge to dance again.
He turned for home to prepare the dance floor, unleashed he practiced the high steps. Begin again.
The Australian outback is a harsh and sometimes a dangerous place to live.
There is not always enough food for everyone.
Some have to go and leave loved ones behind in order to survive.
Emund must be willing to put his on the line for the sake of his family.