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Lost in the Daintree
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By Aly Thompson

Touring the Daintree Rainforest wasn’t something that really interested Tallulah Benson. What with all the insects, animals, plants...and nature all around, Tallulah didn't think she could stand it! You see, Tallulah Benson was the type of person who doesn’t give a twig about the environment – the type of person who takes half hour showers, or never recycles, or kills every insect she sees. Not to mention she leaves her bedroom lights on all the time and thinks its alright to be chopping down rainforests for paper and hunting animals for meat!

However, although Tallulah was less than your average greenie, she was also definitely more than your average fourteen year old. She was very well-educated (who wouldn’t be, with British professors for parents?) and naturally kind-natured, not to mention strikingly gorgeous. But still, she couldn’t help dreading the educational holiday her parents had planned, to help her to see her mistakes. She had screamed and cried and yelled and stormed into her bedroom, slamming the door so hard behind her that it made the wall quake and crack, but her parents had stood their ground. And now there she was, on the damp-smelling row boat that was being steered by a silent, toothless, in-desperate-need-of-a-shower man from Perth. And Tallulah didn’t even like boats!

So as her parents chattered away about how excited they were to finally be touring a temperate rainforest, Tallulah was sitting, with her arms folded and her legs crossed, refusing to talk to her parents. Until they said, “and camping under the stars, oh how lovely!” which made Tallulah’s head snap up immediately and ruin her I’m-not-talking-to-you act.
“C-camping? You mean in tents?” she said cautiously.
“Of course, where did you think we were staying? A five star resort?” her mother replied.
“Well...yeah.” Sarah and John Benson began to chortle, then they started to giggle, then they were splitting their sides laughing!
“Five...star...resort! Oh Lu, you’re so funny!” John panted, smiling from ear to ear. Tallulah rolled her eyes.

When they arrived at the bay, Tallulah hopped out and flopped onto the sand, eyes closed. Her parents walked by her, still laughing, and helped the boat driver get their bags out. Soon, Tallulah noticed that it was very quiet. She opened her eyes and realised that it was sunset. She must have fallen asleep. The only sounds she heard were the chirping of the crickets, rustling of the leaves, and the gentle swoosh of the waves that were slapping the bay.
“I can’t believe them! They left without me!” she muttered, hopping up of the sand and scratching her arm absentmindedly. But the more she scratched, the more itchy it became and as she looked at her arm she noticed that it was bleeding – and there was a dirty great leech! Tallulah was too disgusted to speak. “Ew, ew, EW! First Mum and Dad just go off, now my AB negative is some other disgusting insect-thing’s dinner!” she cried.
She yanked the leech and with a blood-curdling squelch it came off and fell to the sand. Her arm was still bleeding so she took off her cardigan and tied it around the bite – that was something she got from books (she’s a city girl, remember!). She brushed herself for any other unwanted critters and then set off into the forest, in search of her parents, now itchy and freezing cold. “Mum? Dad? Where are you?”, she called. But only her echo answered her.

As Tallulah got deeper and deeper into the forest she realised that she was lost. Terribly. She was stuck in a place she hated and had never been to before and there were all sorts of dangerous things that wanted to eat her – according to Tallulah. She searched and searched, wandering unknowingly in circles, when she finally collapsed to the ground, tired, cold and hungry.

Tallulah began crying. She was, after all, a city girl and wasn’t used to insects and humidity and terrible hunger. “Oh, Mum. Why did you and Dad leave me on the beach? Why? Why?” Tallulah cried harder.

Suddenly, she heard rustling in the bushes, coming closer and closer. All thoughts of tigers and lions and even dinosaurs flooded Tallulah’s mind. Then something began to growl. She scratched crazily at her mosquito bites and pulled her cardigan off her arm with quivering hands, wrapping it around her shoulders. It was the end. “Goodbye, Mum. Goodbye, Dad. I love you!” She closed her eyes and waited for the pain. But it never came. Instead she was being squeezed so tight she couldn’t breathe. Anaconda! she thought to herself. She screamed, and the last twinge of hunger pinched her stomach, then everything was black.

“Lu? Lu? Tallulah, are you okay?” Someone was shaking her and she knew just who that someone was.
“Get off me!” Tallulah’s eyes snapped open and screamed in frustration. “I can’t believe you guys!” She stared at her parents’ distraught faces and shoved them away from her. “Why would you just desert me like that? I almost died of starvation out there not to mention being strangled by the biggest snake in the world!”
Then her parents started laughing!
“Oh my god! Are you guys for real? I almost died and you’re laughing?!” she said incredulously.
“Oh, Tallulah. We’re laughing because you never got strangled by any snake,” her dad said, after finally calming down.
“Why did you leave me – what did you say? I...huh?”
“That was us, silly!” Mr and Mrs Benson said together.
“Why’d you leave me on the beach in the first place, though? I mean, who does that?”
Sarah rolled her eyes. “We thought you were behind us – you were never the best hiker, so we thought you were just lagging behind. But then when we got to the campsite, we waited for hours and you never came.”
Tallulah was stunned. Her parents hadn’t left her after all! “Hang on – hours?”
Sarah and John nodded gravely.
“I suppose we’ll have to go home, won’t we?” Sarah said sadly. “I mean, you probably hate this place considering everything that’s happened.”
Tallulah shook her head indignantly. She had already caused her parents enough trouble.
“Of course not, Mum. Let’s stay! It’ll be so fun. First impressions aren’t always right, are they?”
Sarah and John were overjoyed. They beamed at each other and Tallulah and each put an arm around her. Their daughter had finally learned to appreciate nature, and they still got their rainforest tour, now with Tallulah to have fun with them too!
“Right you are, sweetie,” said John. “Right you are.”




Brian Falkner Books