Anyway, Barry had said he’d seen a huge creature emerging from the water, like an alligator, only it got up on its back legs and walked. When Bethany accused him of lying—he’d probably seen an alligator and was teasing her—he’d looked wounded and said it had a birdlike head with a long bill and why would he make up something like that? Why wouldn’t he? But Barry was insistent he’d really seen one, and then he’d shown her the scratch marks high up on a tree which came from the bunyip’s sharp claws.
The ten-year-old was almost asleep when she heard rustling nearby. She froze, her eyes growing wide as she turned in the direction of the sound.
“Ha! Gotcha!” Barry jumped out of the bushes waving his hands about, making Bethany scream.
“Barry! You scared me.” Bethany’s eyes filled with tears. She’d sat for hours and hours waiting and it was only Barry with his stupid baloney.
“Hey, don’t cry, Beth.”
“You’re mean,” Bethany said between sniffs.
Barry awkwardly put an arm around her shoulder. “I’m sorry. It was just a bit of fun.”
Bethany shrugged him off and stomped down the billabong. She should have known it was another one of his tricks, like the buried cookies.
“Hey wait! Don’t wander off,” Barry called after her, but she stuck her fingers in her ears.
His voice faded in the distance and Bethany slowed down as her anger subsided. Soon, all she could hear was the wind in the leaves, the crunching of her own feet on the sand, and the soft lapping of water. She sighed as she kicked off her sandals, clambered on a rock and dipped her feet in the cold water.
A bloop bloop sounded to her right and Bethany frowned.
“Go away, Barry,” she said, splashing the water with her feet.
The blooping sounded again, nearer this time, pushing ripples towards Bethany’s feet.
Barry didn’t reply, which felt a little strange because he always liked to gloat. Bethany turned to see a long creature with glossy black fur floating in the water, looking at her with large apricot eyes. She stared back, her mouth agape. The creature came closer, its nose wiggling as if it were sniffing her. Bethany slowly reached out her hand, longing to touch the soft-looking fur, but with a last suspicious look, the creature flipped over and dove back into the water.
Bethany tracked the ripples of its movement until she couldn’t see it anymore. She slipped off the rock, stuck her feet back into her sandals, then made her way home.
When she told Barry about the bunyip, all he said was, “Bunyips aren’t real, silly.”
Bethany didn’t believe him anymore. After all, she’d seen one.
Today's suggestions were:
- battledore, from Barbara Harrison
- bunyip or bilby, from Sharna Steinert
I went with bunyip because mythical creatures are cool! You may also realise that Barry and Bethany's descriptions of the creature are different... and that isn't a mistake! If you read the wikipedia link, no one actually agrees on what a bunyip looks like.
I generally choose the next word the night before or on the day itself, depending on when I'm writing the post.